Florida Keys

Second-place finisher will be in runoff for Key West mayor after Wednesday’s recount

Margaret Romero
Margaret Romero

Former city commissioner Margaret Romero will be on the ballot in the Nov. 6 runoff in the Key West mayoral race, after a recount Wednesday determined she was the second-place finisher in Tuesday’s election.

Romero will face Teri Johnston in the November election. Johnston, also a former city commissioner, won 49 percent of the vote Tuesday for the mayoral contest.

Teri Johnston

Romero won 21.5 percent of the vote with 1,338 votes — 28 more than George Bellenger’s 1,310 votes, or 20.81 percent of the vote.

Because the difference between Romero and Bellenger was under a half-percentage point, a mandatory recount was held Wednesday.

This is Romero’s fourth try for the mayor’s office. The retired IBM executive consultant and only Key West native in this year’s race was first elected to the city commission in 2015 when Johnston stepped down. Johnston was term limited after serving two terms.

To win outright in the primary, a candidate must collect 50 percent of the vote plus one vote.

That turned out to be impossible Tuesday, with seven candidates for mayor splitting the votes.

Randy Becker came in fourth with 417 votes. Bill Foley came in fifth with 55 votes, while Sloan Bashinsky received 50 votes and Carie Noda, 48.

Key West hasn’t had a new mayor in nine years, since Mayor Craig Cates won his first bid in 2009, defeating an incumbent. Cates, who never lost a race, was term-limited. He said Tuesday night he will run for the county commission in 2020.

In Key West, mayors serve two-year terms and earn an annual salary of $22,499.