By Larry Kahn


Several Monroe County elected officials were automatically sent back to office without opposition Friday when the weeklong period to qualify for the ballot this year was complete. Some races, however, are crowded -- there are 10 candidates for the Mosquito Control Board.

Re-elected to four-year terms are Republican Sheriff Rick Ramsay, Republican Property Appraiser Scott Russell, Democratic Elections Supervisor Joyce Griffin and Democratic Tax Collector Danise Henriquez.

Republican Clerk of the Court Amy Heavilin, however, who early in her term encountered accounting problems, has two opponents: Republican Kevin Madok, director of strategic planning for Monroe County, and Democrat Ron Saunders, a former state legislator. He’s now the attorney for the County Clerk’s Office — so he’s running against his boss. Heavilin and Madok will square off in the Aug. 30 primary.

Democratic county commissioners Danny Kolhage and Heather Carruthers were re-elected in Key West districts 1 and 3, respectively, and get another four years. But Republican Commissioner Sylvia Murphy of Key Largo has an opponent in District 5 in Robert Majeska, now a member of the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District Board. They will meet in the primary.

Veteran School Board member Andy Griffiths (District 2, Key West) will serve another four years but board member Ed Davidson (District 3) from Marathon has a challenger in Mindy Conn from Sugarloaf Key. School Board candidates run unafilliated but this race, too, will be decided Aug. 30.

There is no shortage of candidates for the county Mosquito Control Board, which has been dominated with the issue of possibly using genetically modified mosquitoes to control the insect that spreads dengue fever and the Zika virus. The plan is to alter male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in a lab, then release them in a test program in the Lower Keys neighborhood of Key Haven. The males would have DNA that, after they mate with a female, would kill off their offspring. Oxitec calls it “self-limiting.”

First-term Republican Jill Cranney-Gage (District 1) of Key Haven hopes for another four years but she two opponents: Democrat Kathryn Watkins and Green Party member Oliver Kofold.

In District 3 (Key West), incumbent Democrat Steve Smith has drawn opposition from Republicans Stephen Hammond and Brandon Piper. Hammond and Piper will meet in the primary and the winner will face Smith in the Nov. 8 general election.

In District 4, Republican Commissioner Bill Shaw of Marathon isn’t running again. Seeking to take his place are Republicans Janet Wood and Larry Zettwoch, both of Islamorada, and Democrat Stanley Zuba of Tavernier.

In Key West, Mayor Craig Cates has three challengers: Perennial election candidate Sloan Bashinsky, Randy Becker and and “Krane” Karsch. This is a two-year term and candidates run with no party affiliation. Commissioners Billy Wardlow (District 1) and Jimmy Weekley (District 3) were sent back to office for another four years but Commissioner Clayton Lopez (District 6) drew a challenger in Nathan Brock.

On the judicial front, attorneys Sharon Hamilton and Rob Stober qualified to run to replace Judge Regan Ptomey, who is retiring from his Upper Keys County Court bench. Judicial races are nonpartisan. County judges serve four years.

For the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District, Gary Bauman, Dennis Caltagirone, incumbent Steve Gibbs, Sue Heim and Eddie Martinez are running. Gibbs’ term (along with Majeska’s) is expiring. These races are nonpartisan.

For the Key Largo fire board, incumbents Tony Allen and (Seat 1) and Bob Thomas (Seat 5) were sent back to office. For Seat 5, now held by Marilyn Beyer, Frank Conklin and Dan Powers qualified to run.

The county clerk, property appraiser and tax collector earn $110,441 annually. The sheriff makes $119,390. The elections supervisor’s salary is $92,354. A county commissioner’s salary is $44,503, School Board members receive $30,118 and Mosquito Control Board members make about $19,500, depending on if they hold a title such as chairman.

Candidates for Marathon City Council and Layton City Council qualify from Aug. 2 to 9. In Islamorada, the qualifying period is Aug. 16 to 23.