MARATHON — Four candidates are vying for two Marathon City Council seats in play in this November’s election. They are Lynny Thompson, Trevor Wofsey, Greg Coldiron and incumbent Luis Gonzalez.
Seats are at-large, meaning that the top two vote-getters will be elected to those open seats.
Qualifying ended at noon Aug. 10. Early voting begins Oct. 18 and runs through Oct. 29. Election day is Nov. 2. and is considered an off voting year in Monroe County. Only Marathon and the city of Layton are holding elections, which typically reduces voter turnout.
This week, the Free Press is profiling Luis Gonzalez, Marathon’s current mayor, who is running for his second term on the council, although not as the mayor, which rotates each year. As of Aug. 15, he had raised $13,020 in financial support for his campaign.
Gonzalez, who has lived in Marathon since 1989, was born and raised in Key West and graduated from Key West High School. He and his wife have worked in the Monroe County school system and have two sons who teach at Marathon High School and a daughter who teaches at Stanley Switlik Elementary.
Gonzalez is the longtime owner of Gonzalez Landscaping, which has had a contract with the city of Marathon for landscaping services for multiple years, although Gonzalez emphasized “it is not a problem because I have recused myself of all votes relating to my company’s contract.” Along with his brother, the company employs 10 people.
Gonzalez said he is a diligent public servant. His motivation to run for the first time three years ago was due in large part to the encouragement he received from many community members. He also said he had a desire to serve his community, but acknowledged he weighed how he’d balance business with family and council duties.
He believes the most rewarding part of his council position is helping people. He recalled a situation involving an elderly woman who lived on 110th Street and was having sewer issues after Hurricane Irma. The sewer system had collapsed and she had struggled to find a solution before Gonzalez got involved. Within a short time, the problem was resolved.
“This type of success has given me the motivation to continue serving on the council,” he said.
Gonzalez enjoys working with the current group of fellow council members on projects. He credits city staff, former City Manager Chuck Lindsey and current City Manager George Garrett for their help in bringing him up to speed. When asked about the learning curve during his first term, he admitted the role was different from what he expected, and that “everything has a price tag and not everything can be done.” He said he is very conscious of how taxpayer dollars are spent and the recently discussed property tax increase was difficult for him because this was the first time the rate had increased since he’d been elected.
Gonzalez added his top priorities going forward, if re-elected, would be working with at least one new elected councilperson this year and three in 2022, when current councilmen Dan Zieg, Steve Cook and John Bartus are termed out. Next year, he would be the senior council member if re-elected and that number of new people could present a completely new dynamic for the city going forward.
“Most importantly, I want to continue to find the balance in city decision-making so that residents feel comfortable calling Marathon home,” Gonzalez said. He said he has been very supportive of finishing the redevelopment of the skate park at the Marathon Community Park, a splash pad as well as the Quay property.
Gonzalez was the only candidate to collect signature cards of registered voters to qualify for this year’s election.
“I’ve always based my decisions on the greater good of the city,” he said. “I’m focused on our parks and beaches, because it’s rewarding to see our community use and enjoy them. The more our parks are used, the better.”