Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Bates files for Blackburn's open seat

ISLAMORADA -- Coconut Cove Resort owner Paul Bates filed last week for a fifth run at the Village Council. He'll vie in November for the council's Seat 4, which is being vacated by Mayor Ted Blackburn.

Bates is the first to announce a run for Blackburn's seat.

A longtime outspoken village critic, Bates enters this election campaign less upset with the Village Council than during any of his four previous runs. He's pleased with the board's decision last year to replace his biggest nemesis, the Weiss Serota law firm, with an in-house village attorney, though he gives much of the credit for that move to himself.

"Weiss Serota was fired and there's not one person who worked harder in the community for that," Bates said.

Bates also takes credit for the departure in February of village manager and planning director Ed Koconis due to a contract dispute with the council.

Still, if elected he says he'll push for more reform, including a simplification of the planning and building codes in order to make selective enforcement more difficult. Bates is also calling for the writing of an ethics ordinance that would apply to village staffers and council members alike. And he's campaigning for the ouster of Building Director Gerry Albertson, with whom he has butted heads both administratively and in the courts.

At present, Bates is fighting three lawsuits against the village, including a federal discrimination case he brought last year after Albertson and the village sought to shut down the power at an 11-room bed and breakfast building on the Coconut Cove property that is also home to Bates, wife Magda and their five children. The village and state fire marshal assert that the building does not meet fire codes.

Bates last ran for the Village Council in 2012, losing to incumbent Ken Philipson by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent.

In addition to Bates, incumbents Philipson, Deb Gillis and Mike Forster are presently slated to run uncontested for Village Council seats. The one competitive race, thus far, is for the council's Seat 2, in which incumbent Dave Purdo faces former Councilman Bob Johnson and former State Attorney Dennis Ward.

All three men said last week that they will continue to run for Seat 2 despite Blackburn's decision to step down.

"I would have a very difficult time switching given the contributions already received and the literature already produced," Johnson said.

At the end of the May reporting period Johnson had raised $3,800, Ward had raised $2,000 and Purdo had raised $350.

rsilk@keysnews.com

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