Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Cates wants a 4th term; backs off 24-hour shelter

Mayor Craig Cates, re-elected barely three months ago to a third term, formally announced Monday he will run again for the city's top elected job on Nov. 4.

Cates filed paperwork with the Monroe County Supervisor of Elections, which lists all campaign finance reports and other required documents on its website, keys-elections.org.

"I want to see our projects through," said Cates, 60, a Conch who retired from owning an auto parts store and is former professional car and boat racing. "Key West needs consistent leadership. It's an important time in the city."

Cates, thus far the sole candidate to file for mayor, ticked off a list of construction projects dotting the island that he wants to remain in office to help oversee -- the transformation of Glynn Archer School into City Hall, a new fire station on Angela Street, a new transit center on Stock Island, a new sexton's house in the city cemetery, the state's rebuilding of North Roosevelt Boulevard, and the private sector's reconstruction of four hotels near the city's Triangle entrance.

As for social issues, the island's homeless problem remains as part of the mayor's priority list but with one major revision: Cates said he will no longer push for a 24-hour homeless shelter to replace the city's overnight bunkhouse on Stock Island.

Cates said he is only concentrating on ensuring the city keeps the Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter (KOTS) open on College Road to meet the legal obligation that wards off civil lawsuits in Florida.

"I still believe we can still improve on quality of life and the economy," said Cates, who pointed out that under his watch reports of crime have declined and the economy has grown.

Cates on Oct. 1 defeated repeat challenger Margaret Romero, a city government critic who appears at almost every commission meeting, but not by the overwhelming margin he did the year before. He blamed his stance on the channel dredging study and a 24-hour homeless shelter for the narrower margin of victory.

Following the election, Cates said he will follow the majority's wishes and not support a study on dredging the channel to better accommodate cruise ships, and stick to an overnight homeless shelter.

This year's election is for a two-year term. In 2012, the city halved the typical mayoral term to one year in order to synchronize city elections with statewide elections.

Should Cates draw an opponent before the qualifying period (June 16-20), he will run first in the Aug. 26 primary.

If a runoff is necessary, voters will return to make a final selection for mayor in the Nov. 4 general election.

gfilosa@keysnews.com

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