In this image provided by the candidate, Charlles Collins is seen. He is running for Key Biscayne Mayor against incumbent Joe Rasco (KBI via Charles Collins)
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Charles Hyatt Collins, a former County sound engineer and union representative, filed paperwork to run for mayor of Key Biscayne, saying financial transparency is his primary campaign issue. 

Collins is challenging incumbent Joe Rasco. He said a new state disclosure requirement — called “Form 6” — spurred him to run. For the first time, the more stringent asset disclosure rule is being extended down to the municipal level.  

Officeholders have long had to fill out state financial disclosure forms in Key Biscayne, but until now, municipal officials and candidates were only required to complete the less stringent Form 1. Last year, the Florida Legislature mandated that local office holders and candidates had to file the more robust Form 6.

The Village Council earlier this year voted to join dozens of other towns, cities, and villages challenging the Form 6 law in court on privacy grounds, but the case is still pending. 

“[The candidacy is] a strategic attempt to impact the litigation that the Village has filed against the state for injunction to withhold personal information and financial disclosures,” Collins said.

Collins said in email correspondence with the Independent that he asked Key Biscayne Village Clerk Jocelyn Koch, including other officials, if his upcoming candidacy automatically covered him by the class action at the July 1 deadline. He said he also emailed the legal counsel at the Florida Commission on Ethics. 

He learned that the official Village policy is that the clerk will only qualify candidates with a Form 6, he said.

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Koch said that Form 6 will need to be be submitted for candidates to qualify. Candidates have until June 14 to complete the filing process. Rasco said Friday he intended to file Form 6.

In response to questions, Collins touted his labor record.

“I have 40 years of successful experience as a labor negotiator and union representative, 35 years of which was at the third largest Parks department in the country,” Collins said. “So, there’s not a lot I haven’t dealt with involving employee relations and achieving a successful outcome.”

Collins was a shop steward for Local 199 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union representing thousands of Miami-Dade County workers, the union said.  Local President  Seadoreia Brown said Collins was “very vital in growing his department with union membership” in the County’s parks department.

He also said that solving traffic issues on the Rickenbacker Causeway will be a top concern. “Without money and fundamental change in management, there is no answer. What I need to see is a bold political will for change,” he said. 

Collins is a Coral Gables native and said he has been a local of Key Biscayne off and on since 1952 and is committed to maintaining its sustainability and culture. However, he stated that he still needs to develop a campaign platform. 

According to his LinkedIn page, Collins studied business at the University of Miami from 1990 to 1991 and chemistry and physics at the University of Florida from 1973 to 1976. He’s a founding member of the Village of Palmetto Bay, also according to the profile. 

Collins didn’t comment about Rasco’s shortcomings, saying that he’s known him for a long time and has worked together. But he added he opposes gentrification.

“I think everyone realizes that there’s an amount of gentrification taking place,” Collins said. “I grew up in Miami. I’ve seen a lot of neighborhoods gentrified. It’s very hard to push back.”

This story was updated to reflect comments from the Village Clerk

BIILY JEAN LOUIS is the senior editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. A native of Port Au Prince, Haiti, Jean Louis  has worked for Bloomberg and the Baltimore Sun. He is a corps member of Report for America

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BIILY JEAN LOUIS is the senior editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. A native of Port Au Prince, Haiti, Jean Louis  has worked for Bloomberg and the Baltimore Sun. He is a corps member of Report for...