Bike, Walk, Transit and Streets for People Need New Talent on City Commission – That’s Why We’re Voting for Dr. Ryan Barnett in District 6

By Chris Hamilton, September 29, 2020

There are those of us, especially at Friends of Car-Free Key West/Duval Street & Historic Downtown who are impatient for needed change. We want pedestrian only blocks along Duval and perhaps adjacent streets, parklets to replace some on-street parking spaces and wider, people-oriented sidewalks downtown with more shade trees, street furniture and opportunities for art and retail. We envision a network of protected bike lanes crisscrossing our island and more bike parking at destinations. We want improved public transit that includes simplified routes, increased frequency and a fare-free service. We expect better managed parking that allows downtown residents to park near their own homes.

Doing these things will improve sustainability and our environment, increase health, boost local business prosperity, promote equity and bring about happiness too. It will be difficult to expect any of this wonderful change to occur if we have the exact same City Commission we had when the election process started.

District 6 in red is the heart of downtown Key West.

That’s why we need a new, fresh voice on the City Commission, otherwise we’ll just get more of the same. And that’s exactly where we’re headed if the 15-year incumbent in the District 6 race for Commissioner is elected again. We’ll have the same exact Commissioners and perhaps many close 4-3 losses on creating a positive future on our issues. That’s why we support Dr. Ryan Barnett for District 6 City Commissioner. We need to turn those losses into wins.

In the run up to the August 18 City of Key West primaries we conducted research on the voting records of the Mayor and Commissioners and we asked those running for office and their challengers thirteen questions on bike, walk, transit and streets for people issues. With this data we gave out grades (see chart below) and made recommendations in all the races (Mayor’s race; District 6; District 3; Other Commissioners). There’s only one race left to be decided. Six of the seven slots on the Commission are set for the next two years, with the seventh, District 6, in a runoff between 15-year incumbent Commissioner Clayton Lopez (D+) and challenger Dr. Ryan Barnett (B). Here’s how we made the case for Dr. Ryan Barnett in July: Grading the Candidates on Bike, Walk, Transit and Streets for People: District 6.

We need at least 4 reliable votes on Commission to move our agenda forward. Dr. Ryan Barnett will be one of those votes.

Politics and thus change is a numbers game. Four votes are needed to move forward legislation. Three of the seven who currently sit on the dais (Johnston, Weekley, Kaufman) are stalwart supporters on bike, walk, transit, and streets for people issues, having all received grades of B+. We need a reliable 4th vote because the others’ grades, especially Commissioner Lopez, have been less supportive. To be clear we have high hopes for Commissioner Davila and perhaps Commissioner Hoover to also emerge as more reliable votes on our issues. But based on the data, Dr. Ryan Barnett can be that 4th vote. If others emerge too, great! Here’s why.

Mayor Johnston (B+) has an ambitious agenda for revitalizing Duval Street, making more room for bicyclists and pedestrians on our streets, getting parking policy right and enhancing Key West Transit. In the face of Covid era realities and climate change Key West is going to need brave new approaches to these issues. We owe it to the Mayor to give her the votes for positive change. Based on our analysis, we believe Dr. Barnett shares the Mayor’s agenda and can be that reliable vote for needed action and change.

Dr. Ryan Barnett will bring needed understanding and change on bike, walk, transit and streets for people.

While we like and respect the service of the gregarious long-time Commissioner Lopez and his vociferous voice on national politics, that’s not enough reason to vote to extend his tenure to 19 years when little progress has been made on our issues. Commissioner Lopez’ votes and answers to our questions demonstrate a tendency to favor 20th century car-centric solutions. Especially troubling as District 6 is the heart of a tightly woven historic downtown that needs more room for people not cars. Dr. Ryan Barnett has demonstrated in his answers to ours and others’ questions, that he has a better understanding of these issues, they’re interconnectedness, and that he isn’t afraid of changing some things to make them better.

If you were trying to line up at least 4 votes for progressive change on bike, walk, transit and streets for people issues, it is obvious from the data that we’ll have a much better chance getting things done putting Dr. Ryan Barnett and his Grade of B on the dais and not Mr. Lopez’ Grade of D+.

That is why we are endorsing Dr. Ryan Barnett for City Commission in District 6. It is time for a fresh start and new talent.

Friends of Car-Free Key West & Duval Street/Historic Downtown City Commission Scorecard on Our Issues

Commissioner Jimmy WeekleyDistrict 1B+
Commissioner Sam KaufmanDistrict 2B+
Mayor Terri Johnston MayorB+
Commissioner Gregory DavilaDistrict 4C+
Commissioner Mary Lou HooverDistrict 5C
Commissioner Billy WardlowDistrict 3D-
Who do we want being the potential swing vote?
Challenger Dr. Ryan BarnettDistrict 6B
Commissioner Clayton LopezDistrict 6D+

Dr. Ryan Barnett’s response to 13 questions from Friends of Car-Free Key West

Commissioner Lopez’ response to 13 questions from Friends of Car-Free Key West

Grading the Candidates on Bike, Walk, Transit and Streets for People: District 6; July 21, 2020 This is the full article we published in July. We encourage you to read this as its full of data, analysis and other sources of material that back up our endorsement.

Grading the Candidates on Bike, Walk, Transit and Streets for People; July 20, 2020

Grading the Candidates on Bike, Walk, Transit and Streets for People, Mayor’s Race; July 24, 2020

Chris Hamilton
Chris Hamilton

A native of the District of Columbia, where for a couple decades+ he led the nationally renown Commuter Services unit for Arlington County, VA’s DOT, Chris has lived in Key West since 2015. He lives car-free downtown and works and volunteers for a couple non-profits.

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