LAYTON -- In a town of less than 200 residents, the mayoral race is beginning to heat up as the incumbent and challenger battle for each vote leading up to the Nov. 6 election.
Mayor Norm Anderson, 64, said his track record of increasing fire hydrants and keeping a transparent office as the town's top executive speaks for itself.
Anderson says his hard work helped secure a 50-acre donation from Pete Riley that doubled the town-owned land. He said his contacts throughout the Florida Keys are also an asset.
"I've got a great relationship with the county," he said. "They're only a phone call away."
Anderson is being challenged by commerical fisherman and former councilman John Cromartie, who lost his council seat in 2011 by three votes.
In a statement to the Free Press, Cromartie, 59, laid out a series of changes he wants to make if elected, including firing Skip Haring, the mayor's administrative assistant.
Cromartie also said he wants to close the town's debit card accounts for staff and cut reimbursements to a "bare minimum."
"As mine will be the last signature on every city check, if any discrepancies occur with city funds, the buck will stop with me," Cromartie wrote. "I feel changes are needed and if elected I can be instrumental in making those changes."
Anderson said issuing debit cards was at the advice of the city's attorney and the accounts are checked daily by the city's clerk, who herself carries a town-issued card.
Unlike his opponent, Anderson declined to spell out his platform.
"I do not say what I plan on doing because my opponent will steal it from me," Anderson said.
Cromartie also is critical of Anderson's behavior at council meetings, which he characterizes as unprofessional and inappropriate. Anderson dismissed such assertions as not true.
Anderson said he spends about 20 hours a week working the unpaid position and pulls office hours about four days a week.
"Let him run a negative campaign if the thinks it's going to work for him," Anderson said. "It's going to be a close election, and the voters understand what I've done for them."
Anderson said being a traveling salesman who specializes in building materials keeps him on the road a couple days a week, but he considers himself available to constituents 24 hours a day.
"If you can't win on your own merit, let him keep slamming me," Anderson said of Cromartie. "I'm going to take the high road."
Cromartie also said the city needs to increase the number of bids it gets for town contracts, including lawn maintenance, which is provided by a company Haring owns.
"I'm going to run on my own merits," Anderson added. "It's a free country, [Cromartie) can say what he wants."