Key West will soon elect our new Mayor. I am asking that I be your choice and here are a few reasons why.

Key West is no doubt unique and is blessed with a hard working, diverse and creative population. A big part of that diversity is found in our local businesses and the uniqueness of our surrounding ecosystem, unlike any on the planet. Being a business owner, I know that a healthy environment is essential to a strong economy. Neither can stand alone and as your Mayor I am prepared to keep both key assets strong. But we must appreciate the service that our natural environment provides, with unending sunshine that can be captured as solar energy, tree canopies that can be nurtured and preserved to protect us, clean waters that support our recreation and fishing industries, and a seaside community that visitors love. I think, that as a community we can make smart use of our natural resources and set an example as the cleanest island community in America.

Key West is first a locals place, where our families and children need support to maintain a quality of life. This means we need green spaces where our kids can play, a system that allows us to house, feed and educate our families and to catch a break when prices are skyrocketing. Specifically, we need to fast track permits for first time homeowners and make City Hall a service oriented operation at all levels. Quality of life has a lot to do with affordability and the challenge should not be too complex to tackle, whether it be housing, insurance or government services. I am prepared to be your offensive line to keep our city livable and our kids able to enjoy a life here.

We’ve not made it easy for our local businesses to prosper, particularly following Hurricane Irma. We need to make sure years of regulations don’t add up to red tape, delays and the shadow of code enforcement at every turn. I also feel that we need to plan for the unexpected, create contingencies and rainy day funds and instill good management practices, including consideration of cost/benefit for budget outlays.

Our city must be a secure place to live. When disasters strike, we not only need to know what to do, but be able to do it with adequate supplies of fuel, emergency supplies and a reliable, professional communications system that provides accurate information, if we are forced to leave our homes. We will become known as a community able to adapt to storms, weather changes and rising tides without having lives destroyed in the process.

For those who ask when the next generation will step up and take responsibility, I am answering that call following a period of community service. For more than twenty years my family and I have expressed our love for Key West by volunteering, planting trees, building protection of the reef and waters into our business and showing up when a need arises. This not only taught our son valuable lessons but prepared me and my wife, Carla, for a time when we could give back with public service.

These are a few reasons why I should be your next Mayor. I will work to earn your vote. I will be thoughtful about your needs. And, I will proudly protect the many riches we enjoy in America’s Southernmost City. For me, this is all about our community, our future.

George Bellenger