In May, Kolhage announced he would not seek a third term on the Commission in 2020. But in October, Kolhage decided to call it quits before that election, stepping down from his District 1 seat effective Nov. 30.
“It has been my honor and privilege to serve Monroe County for more than 45 years,” Kolhage wrote in a resignation letter to DeSantis. He served as the Monroe county clerk for three decades prior to his position on the Commission.
Kolhage said health issues did not contribute to the decision to step down.
Cates was one of three people who filed to replace Kolhage in the 2020 election. Now, DeSantis is placing him directly in the District 1 seat until that Nov. 3 contest. The Governor is given power to fill vacancies on the Monroe County Commission.
Cates, a Republican, served as Key West Mayor from 2009 until 2018. He is a fourth-generation resident of Key West and will serve out the duration of Kolhage’s term.
District 1 covers parts of Key West, Key Haven and Stock Island.
Come November, Cates will be forced to defend the seat and earn support from voters. Monroe County Tax Collector “Dee Dee” Henriquez has filed to run as a Democrat. Stock Island resident Andy Williams is also running on the Republican ticket.
Cates has been the top fundraiser so far, pulling in more than $52,000 through November. Henriquez has added nearly $12,000. Williams has collected just $100 since entering the race in October.