Monroe County Commissioner Heather Carruthers moved to Key West 16 years ago. As with many people who relocate to the Keys, her decision was spontaneous.

She travelled here for a vacation, envisioned her future back in New York City and, despite a stable career in marketing, realized that she wanted something more comfortable than the Big Apple could offer. Six months later she moved.

That doesn’t mean to say Carruthers slowed her pace once she made a tropical island home. Right off the bat she and her partner at the time purchased a guest-house and became hands-on managers. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun, but in time Carruthers sold the business and became involved in public service like never before.

Carruthers is currently one of five commissioners representing a county that stretches from the Everglades to Key West, the southernmost point in the continental U.S. It’s a job that is responsible for a range of significant projects not covered by federal or local government: disaster relief, transportation and a recent billion-dollar waste-water project - not particularly sexy, but incredibly important to the region.

Carruthers is particularly proud of her role reining in county spending. Like many local officials a pressing goal is ensuring that Key West remains an affordable place to live, particularly for the elderly and those working people needed to sustain a burgeoning tourist industry.

Nowadays Carruthers balances those responsibilities with family, a partner of 11 years and a 3-year-old daughter. She’s enjoying time on the water and resuming classical singing performing with the Key West Masterworks chorale.

– AP