Tarracino was politically active in Key West politics running for mayor four times before winning office in 1989 by only 32 votes out of more than 6,000 cast. He sought to "limit Key West's growth and to keep its reputation as a refuge for eccentrics and renegades who had found their way to the southernmost point of the continental United States." As mayor, he preserved Key West's daily sunset celebration but he lost a bid for re-election in 1991 to Dennis Wardlow, "prime minister" of the tongue-in-cheek protest secessionist Conch Republic. Tarracino spoke of his two-year term in the office as "the greatest two years of my life."
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