Incumbent Key West Mayor Craig Cates was re-elected Tuesday, defeating two challengers he had beaten in previous elections.
Cates, who will serve a two-year term, received 53.13 percent of the vote (2,677 votes), besting Margaret Romero (43.66 percent, 2,200 votes) and also-ran Sloan Bashinsky (3.21 percent, 162 votes).
If Cates hadn't received a plurality Tuesday, he and the No. 2 vote-getter would have gone to a Nov. 4 runoff in the nonpartisan election.
"My friends and supporters have been behind me from the start and the citizens of Key West have sent a positive message that they want to keep Key West going in a positive direction,” he said. “I’m always positive. I think Key West is the greatest place in the world and I think we can continue to be the greatest.”
Cates will be termed-limited out in two years. He says this was his fourth election in five years and he feels like he’s been running continuously. He says it’s an honor to be elected to a fourth term, a record not held in Key West since the 1970s.
He had good words for Romero.
“She ran a good campaign, she ran hard,” he said. “When you’ve run four terms, there are a lot of issues that people can pick on. That’s why I think it’s difficult to get re-elected that many times.”
Romero says the numbers prove many residents want change.
"I think the vote proves he doesn't have a mandate," she said. "I think it proves a lot of people like what I say and do. I ask the tough questions and that's what I'm going to continue to do."
She doesn't know if she'll run in the future, but says she will continue to be a participant in policy discussions facing the city.
"I'm not going away; I didn't go away after the last election. I won't go away now," Romero said. "I will continue to be involved, continue to be a community advocate. I think that's the most important thing."
Romero thanked her supporters and says she's proud of accomplishing what she and her team did, even with raising just a fourth of the money that Cates did.
Bashinsky is glad to see the end of another election cycle.
"If I won this race, I'd be the most surprised person in Key West," he said. "I was never happy to be in the race. I didn't want to run. I ran because I was told to run. So I ran."
He added, "Margaret and I raised serious issues, but apparently those issues weren't important to the voters. They were just voting for the person -- the issues weren't a part of the process."
Like Romero, Bashinsky says he will continue to be an advocate for issues he holds close to his heart and be an outspoken proponent for change.