FLORIDA KEYS -- Voters in Islamorada gave a thumbs-up to the status quo on Tuesday, while Key Largo voters expressed a preference for change. Meanwhile in Marathon, voters looked ready to return two incumbents to the City Council, with one precinct yet to report.
In Islamorada, incumbents Dave Purdo, Ken Philipson and Ted Blackburn each won a second council term.
Purdo faced the stiffest challenge, taking down his hard campaigning challenger Travis Yednak by a margin of 52 to 48 percent.
"All the work I did paid off," Purdo said moments after the results were announced. "I wish Travis the best of luck. Right now I'm so god------ happy I don't know what to say."
Sitting Mayor Philipson had an easier time of it, defeating hotelier and staunch village critic Paul Bates by a 57 to 43 percent margin.
Blackburn swamped challenger Todd Chandler by a margin of 64 to 36 percent in a race that featured very little campaigning.
With four of the five Marathon precincts reporting, two-term incumbents Dick Ramsay and Ginger Snead were poised to win another two-year board term, while former councilman Chris Bull, who served from 2004 to 2008, appeared headed back to the dais.
"I'm always humbled by everybody and the outcome of this process," Bull said. "... I've always been a man of action. This will not be a caretaker council."
Ramsay led the Marathon vote in the at-large race, with 27 percent of the vote. Next was Bull with 25 percent, followed by Snead with 23 percent. On the outside looking in were former Deputy City Manager C.J. Geotis, with 17 percent and Florida Keys Journal publisher Larry Shaffer with 8 percent.
In the at-large race for two seats on the Key Largo Wastewater Board, voters selected former Free Press writer Steve Gibbs and incumbent Robby Majeska, who will serve a second four-year term. However, incumbent Charlie Brooks, was turned out of office.
With 250 absentee ballots from Key Largo uncounted, Gibbs led the vote count with 40 percent while Majeska had secured 31 percent. Brooks was 1,021 votes behind Majeska with 18 percent. Challenger Mike Black was bringing up the rear with 11 percent.
"I've pounded the pavements and I'm delighted that people have faith in me," Gibbs said.
He added that he is ready to focus on the $81 million debt Key Largo ratepayers are facing.
"I am going do everything I can to pay down our debt," Gibbs said.
Key Largo voters also turned out incumbent Tom Tharp in the race for Seat 4 on the Key Largo Fire-EMS Board. Volunteer fireman George Mirabella led Tharp by 405 votes with the 250 absentee ballots uncounted. Mirabella had 55 percent of the vote.
Funeral home director Tony Allen had an easier time in the election for Seat 1 on the Fire-EMS Board, garnering 60 percent of the vote against retired airline pilot Kent Van Winkle
In the small Middle Keys town of Layton, voters gave the thumbs-up to Mayor Norman Anderson, who won a fourth two-year term. He defeated challenger John Cromarite by a margin 78 to 46 votes
With the Key Largo absentee ballots and the Marathon precinct uncounted, favorites were on the verge of winning in numerous Keyswide elections as well Tuesday.
Undersheriff Rick Ramsay, a Republican, beat his Democratic challenger Tom Peteck, a recently retired deputy. He led by a margin of 57 to 43 percent.
Democrat Catherine Vogel, who defeated incumbent Dennis Ward in the August primary, will be the next Monroe County State Attorney. She was ahead of her ex-boss and former State Attorney Mark Kohl, a Republican, by 56 to 44 percent.
Deputy Supervisor of Elections Joyce Griffin will replace her boss Harry Sawyer at the top of the office. The Democrat led her Republican challenger Barry Gibson 55 to 45 percent.
Incumbent Andy Griffiths won a sixth four-year term on the Monroe County School Board, trouncing Yvette Mira-Talbott with a lead of 61 to 39 percent.
The race for the School Board's Seat 3 was too close to call at press time. Ed Davidson led John Welsh by 34 votes.
Republican Amy Heavilin will replace County Commissioner Elect Danny Kolhage as Monroe County Clerk. She was en route to easily dispatching Democrat Joe Allen leading by a margin 64 to 36 percent.
Another Republican, Jill Cranney Gage, swamped Green Party candidate Ollie Kofoid for the District 1 seat on the Florida Keys Mosquito Control Board. Gage was ahead by a margin of 69 to 31 percent.
But voters were likely to opt for incumbent Steve Smith, a Democrat, in the race for Seat 3 on the Mosquito Board. Smith, who would serve a fifth term on the board, was ahead of Republican Stephen Hammond by a margin 51 to 49 percent.
Keys residents gave the OK to two countywide referendums, one binding and the other non-biding.
In a non-binding question, voters said they'd like the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority Board to be elected rather than appointed by the governor. The margin was 69 to 31 percent at press time.
In the binding referendum, 68 percent had said yes to an extension of the one-cent infrastructure sales tax through 2033.
Results in races for Florida's 26th Congressional District seat, as well as Seat 39 in the Florida Senate and Seat 120 in the Florida House, weren't available at press time, as ballots were still being counted in Miami-Dade County.
Incumbent Republican David Rivera was facing Democrat Joe Garcia in the race for Congress.
Democrat Dwight Bullard was facing Republican Hopes in the race for Florida Senate. And Republican Holly Raschein was pitted against Democrat Ian Whitney in the race for State House.
Staff writer Josh Gore contributed to this report.