A woman who was running before the Key West City Commission was arrested Tuesday, along with her stepson, after police were called to their home two nights earlier over a family argument.
Kimberley Denney Highsmith, 52, and Thomas Highsmith, 18, were each arrested on felony charges and transferred to the county jail on Stock Island.
She will run on Nov. 8 with Lissette Cuervo Carey for the District 4 committee seat, which has been left wide open after incumbent Greg Davila said he would not seek a second term.
The arrests came two days after Thomas’ father and stepmother had argued all night. He tried to intervene and she “got extremely physical with him,” he told police.
The family conflict on Sunday night escalated when Thomas said he threw water directly at his stepmother — and she in turn hit, punched and scratched him, according to arrest reports.
The two criminal cases began Monday morning after Kimberley Highsmith called police to the family’s home after her husband and Thomas’ father, attorney and Monroe County School Board member Bobby Highsmith, put the family’s dogs in his vehicle and said that he “was ripping them off”. with the SPCA,” the police said.
Police said she “seemed extremely emotional” as she spoke to them.
Bobby Highsmith returned home with the dogs and put them in the fenced yard while the police were still talking to his wife. He asked officers to speak to them and one replied, “No, sir.”
Police told Kimberley that a problem with the pets would legally be a civil matter.
Thomas was at school Monday morning.
Kimberley Highsmith said Thomas threw water on her and that “she was defending herself”, and that he may have gotten some minor scratches on his neck as a result, police said.
She sometimes described her relationship with Thomas as “volatile” and “aggressive”. She later declined to speak to the police.
Thomas, a Key West High School student, first met officers at the school, 2100 Flagler Ave., on Monday as he left class. He wouldn’t answer their questions or say how he got at least two scrapes, each about an inch long, on his neck, the reports say.
Officers said Thomas “appeared to be very distraught and emotional” during the short time they spoke to him.
The next day, Tuesday, he told police that his scratches “were the result of him throwing water on her,” the report said.
Thomas was arrested in high school around 1:40 p.m. and taken to prison in handcuffs.
His stepmother was arrested at 5:15 p.m. at the Key West Police Department headquarters on North Roosevelt Boulevard after she said she didn’t want to talk to them and said she would get a lawyer. They immediately handcuffed her.
Both were released from prison at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, without having to pay bail. Each has a court date set for September 30.
Bobby Highsmith declined to comment when reached by an FLKeysNews.com/Miami Herald reporter via text on Wednesday. He said both family members have lawyers: Hal Schuhmacher represents his wife and Michael Halpern represents his son.
Schuhmacher said he could not answer any questions on Wednesday. Halpern did not respond to a text message
Kimberley Highsmith and Carey are actively campaigning to join the 7-member City Commission.
In the August primary, Highsmith came out on top in a four-person race, with nearly 46% of the vote.
But that wasn’t enough to win outright, so the top two voters will meet in the November 8 election.
Carey, a Key West resident and former City Hall employee, was behind her by nearly 30%.
Only voters living in District 4, which is made up of neighborhoods in the New Town area that includes the three major supermarkets and several retail chain locations, decide the commission race.
Candidates for committee do not run by party. But during the campaign, Highsmith called herself “a Democrat married to a Conch Republican,” saying she knows how to compromise in politics.
People born in Key West call themselves “Conchs.”