It’s time for the holidays in Key West

Key West Mayor Teri Johnston joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s been going on in the city.

The 20th anniversary of the Smart Ride for HIV AIDS awareness happened this weekend.

Johnston said, “They have been such a record setting nonprofit organization. I didn’t realize it until we put together the proclamation for them at City Hall a week ago last Thursday, but they are one of the very few if not the only nonprofit, that 100 percent of what they raise goes to the beneficiaries. That’s so unique in the in the nonprofit world. Every dime they raised goes to help eradicate HIV and AIDS. They have they have raised close to $15 million in their 20 years of riding that 165 miles down to Key West. They’ve just done a great job. It was a perfect day on Saturday. It really was magical and kind of bittersweet, because this will be the last one that will be sponsored for AIDS help, HIV. It was really kind of bittersweet. But what a great group of people and what a selfless noble act to ride 165 miles, particularly when you get on US 1, for the eradication of AIDS.”

Board members added to the Housing Authority has seen some discussion.

Johnston said, “In 2021, according to state statute, I’m allowed to increase the number of board members from five to seven. I brought that in front of the commission asking them to increase the number of board members so that I could add two new people, bring some new ideas, a fresh set of ideas to one of the most critical areas that we have in the city of Key West, which is housing. The Housing Authority actually manages over 10 percent of our entire housing in the city of Key West. So it is so important but particularly right now it is, but at that time in 2021 the commission went right down the line and said no mayor, we don’t want to increase the board. These are your selections. Make your selections. So indeed, I did that. I did that a week ago last Thursday. I had two very highly qualified people. Thaddeus Cohen was a previous planning director and probably knows more about housing than most people in the city of Key West. Also, Robert Cintron, who is a very respected attorney, has been in Key West since I think he was six years old. So I was quite surprised when five of the commissioners said, no, we don’t want your appointments. I actually went back 23 years and the commission had accepted the appointment of every single mayor in the previous 23 years. I believe one of the commissioners made a note and said, well, those appointments were just reappointments. I guess that takes me back also, because it’s called the mayor’s appointment, which means the mayor makes appointment, and the commission approves that appointment. What made it doubly interesting at that meeting was that we had just approved two resolutions, where the commission voted unanimously that they wanted to make their own appointments without any input from the commission for the planning board and the BVRAC board. So I think we’ve got some contradictions going on right there. But I’m going to continue to make appointments. I’m going to continue to bring them in front of the commission and really, it’s going to be incumbent upon them to tell the community why they wouldn’t want people who are highly qualified to sit on that board.”

One of the housing board appointees may be running for city commission.

Johnston said, “Well, anybody could run for City Commission. We’ve got three openings this year. So virtually anybody could be running. I hope they do. It’s a very noble position and I hope they do. But I had spoken a number of times directly with Thaddeus Cohen, who never made that representation. It had been made by I believe, Commissioner Lopez, and I believe by the chair of the BVRAC board, but it has not come from Mr. Cohen. So we’ll see what happens. But I’m going to continue to make appointments and bring them in front of the commission and we’re going to continue to have this conversation because it is such an important board and we do need a new set of eyes. We need new ideas. We need different skill sets, and I’m going to continue to bring people forward.”

The holiday parade is on December 2 with a record number of floats in the parade.

Johnston said, “It’s going to be an incredible year. Everybody came out, everybody wanted to build a float or be in the parade in some aspect. Before we even get to that, which is Saturday, December 2, starting at seven o’clock, we are going to have the lighting of the tree at Bayview Park, which is the first official sighting of Santa. So that will be in Bayview Park on Monday the 27th. We go right into then World AIDS Day and we will have a march starting at four o’clock from City Hall down to the AIDS memorial to recognize everyone who has lost their life to HIV/AIDS. The parade will be on Saturday. After that we’ll have an official lighting of the menorah in Bayview Park and I hope everybody comes out and enjoys the holiday season. We’re also going to have a special event out at the Truman waterfront this year, a holiday winter wonderland. So we’ve got lots of activities and the reason that it’s so important to all of us is there’s lots of activities for locals, lots of free things for locals. You can get out and enjoy our beautiful city with your family for free.”

City Hall will be closed on Thursday and Friday this week.

Johnston said, “Have a wonderful peaceful holiday season with your families.”