MARATHON -- Half of the candidates for the Marathon City Council can expect to be successful during the Nov. 4 election.
The six candidates are vying to fill three at-large seats. The three with the highest number of votes will be sworn in for two-year terms.
Real estate agent Trish Hintze, former mayor Mike Cinque and incumbent Chris Bull were the most recent to file for public office. They join businessman Eric Myrmel, retired orthopedic surgeon Daniel Zieg and electrician Bill Kelly III, who filed earlier in the summer and where profiled in a previous Free Press article. All qualified for the non-partisan race before the city's Aug. 12 deadline.
The three open seats are held by Mayor Dick Ramsay and Councilman Rich Keating, who are termed out after three consecutive two-year terms, and Bull.
According to the latest Supervisor of Elections figures, candidate Kelly has raised $6,810 for his campaign, while Zieg has $6,000, Myrmel $950 and Hintze $500.
Kelly's largest contributions came from Timothy O'Connell ($300), Dick Ramsay, city mayor ($250), Robert Guerin Jr. ($250) (all of Marathon and listed as retired), as well as Glenn Schofield, a contractor of LaBelle, Fla. Other business contributions came from C.B. Schmitt Real Estate ($300), David Douglas Engineering ($200) and Glitterati Hair studio ($150).
Zieg's largest contributions came from Marathon Jet Center ($500); Virginia Ehrhorn, retiree of Redding, Conn. ($500); and Greg Goldiron, an individual with rental housing ($200).
For his campaign, Myrmel received $300 from Realtor Brian Schmitt, $250 from Shelter Bay Marina and $100 from Tony Vescolani, a resident of Lansing, Mich.
Hintze has received $250 from Malcom Kaiser of Key West, $100 from Realtor Ben Daniels and $50 from David Peck.
Hintze is the sole woman running for office and has years of involvement in the Middle Keys Republican Club, serving in the past as treasurer and president, and as a member of the Republican executive committee. A single mother, she has a 26-year-old son who is a Marathon High School graduate and serves in the Coast Guard in Marathon.
Hintze said she first got involved in hometown politics at age 18 in Cleawater, where she went door-to-door for a candidate running for public office. She moved to the Keys in 1998, where she worked at a dentist's office on Big Pine Key, developed information technology skills and later earned a real estate license.
Hintze served on the Lower Keys Board of Realtors, which involved meetings and some travel, but that responsibility is complete, she said.
Bull, who has launched a Marathon Proud initiative (www.MarathonProud.org), says he intends to keep his focus on community improvements.
"Marathon Proud is about making our 'Main Street' better through collaborations with the city, chamber of commerce, businesses and the community," he said.
As an example of a needed improvement, he cites the bike/jogging path on Aviation Boulevard, which "is skinny, not lit and simply crumbling in places. There is very little landscaping or rest areas or trash cans along the route. It's just not that friendly of a bike path right now."
Bull also wants to change existing U.S. 1 lighting, which, he says, "resembles industrial lighting or something you would see on the turnpike."
Meanwhile, Bull says he has been the go-to council member for roadway and infrastructure improvements around 33rd and 35th Streets. What began as a Florida Department of Transportation re-paving project has been expanded to include safety elements such as street widening, an extended turning lane down U.S. 1, traffic pattern enhancement for Fishermen's Hospital and relocation of the county library.
Bull said he is a long-term planner and insists the city's 10- and five-year plans are revisited. Prior to his serving on council, he said the council for three years was not involved in long-term planning.
"The five-year capital infrastructure plan was not publicly discussed," he said. "Now, we are looking down the road, making progress and following the plan."
If elected in November, Cinque would have sat out his requisite year before serving again. Marathon's mayor before being term limited out almost a year ago, Cinque said he debated with himself whether the time was right to return.
"I am fortunate to have the time and resources," he said.
Cinque owns the Stuffed Pig Restaurant at 35th Street, as well as an adjacent trailer park. He also owns a horse farm in Ocala. Involved with incorporation of Marathon 15 years ago, Cinque has stayed involved in municipal matters. He counts among his accomplishments the installation of state-mandated advanced sewage treatment in the Middle Keys.
"Without the sewers, nobody could redevelop our old buildings. Now that wastewater services are in place, houses and businesses can be improved," he said, adding that he is for "smart growth."
Cinque said he would like mom-and-pop businesses to be at the heart of redevelopment, so they can hire local people and pay good wages. He said he believes in taking care of the retirement community and maintaining the integrity of residential areas.
A catalyst for pursuing office again is the slow progress on city hall, Cinque said. Also, he questions why the city's proposed budget includes a 12 percent increase in general revenue. He said the council needs to better supervise spending.
Cinque suddenly finds himself having to deal with a lawsuit, in which he is specifically named, which was theatrically served to Mayor Ramsay last Thursday at the capital improvements budget meeting. The lawsuit alleges Cinque used land belonging to Overseas Liquor without permission to run a sewer line to his property, thereby diminishing the value of the property, and conspired with other city officials to pass an ordinance to limit liquor sales.
Cinque has gathered documents to refute the suit, calling it a "frivolous pack of lies." He also questioned the timing of the lawsuit, which was served after he qualified for public office. He said he knew about the lawsuit because he received an intent to file notice last December, so the timing of the lawsuit makes him believe it "is nothing but politically motivated."
All candidates' contact and campaign finance information is listed at www.keys-elections.org.