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Key expects few changes as honorary mayor


Last updated 10/8/2021 at 4:44pm

Miriam Key is serving as Fallbrook's new honorary Mayor. Village News/Shane Gibson photo

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

Miriam Key doesn't expect her Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce activities to change significantly now that she is the Fallbrook Honorary Mayor.

Key was announced as Fallbrook's new honorary mayor Sept. 15. "I'm honored. It's a privilege. Certainly humbled," she said.

The Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce also has ambassadors, and Key has been one for the past six years. "The dynamic may change a little bit what I do, but I'm still an ambassador. That hasn't changed," she said of becoming the honorary mayor.

Fallbrook's honorary mayor often represents the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce during visits to other towns, and chamber ambassadors don't necessarily make those trips. The honorary mayor's duties outside of Fallbrook sometimes entail explaining that the honorary mayor is not an actual political position.

The lack of political authority doesn't mean a total lack of political clout. "We can influence things," Key said.

Key speaks from personal experience. Key and Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lila MacDonald led the creation of the farmers' market in Fallbrook, and Key is now the organizer of the farmers' market activities.

Key spent most of her childhood in Germany. Her father is German and her mother is Italian. The family moved to California when she was 15 and she graduated from Pacifica High School in Garden Grove as did her husband, Darren. Key and her husband, who were high school sweethearts, will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary Oct. 11.

After graduating from high school, she attended Brooks College in Long Beach, where she majored in fashion design and art history. Her parents, Horst and Angela Braun, moved to Fallbrook in the late 1970s. Key and her husband moved to Fallbrook in 1988. "My husband wanted to get out of Orange County," she said. "He wanted land."

Key and her husband live in the Live Oak area of Fallbrook as do her parents, who have been married for 62 years.

The couple has three businesses. She designs jewelry and accessories. He has a handyman service. They are also health coaches and work with the health and wellness company Isagenix.

"We stay busy," Key said. "Busy people get the most done."

When Key moved to Fallbrook, she was a buyer for Gucci and commuted from Fallbrook to Costa Mesa. In 1993, they moved to the Houston area for work, but they kept and rented out their Fallbrook house. They weren't expecting to stay in Texas for 16 years but finally returned to Fallbrook in 2010.

"We love living here," Key said.

Key had been a Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce member from 1988 to 1992, although the membership lapsed when she was in Texas. "We joined the chamber again when my husband decided to be self-employed after a layoff," she said. "I was always self-employed."

Key rejoined the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce in 2015 and has been a member ever since.

The honorary mayor position is determined by which candidate raises the most money for a local non-profit organization. "I was named Ambassador of the Year this year, so I figured why not take the next step," Key said.

Key's husband was in the Air Force from 1979 to 1984, making him eligible for membership in The American Legion. An American Legion member must have served in the armed forces during a period of conflict but does not need to have experienced combat. A Veteran of Foreign Wars member must have served overseas during a period of conflict, although that can be in a non-combat position.

Fallbrook has more than 100 nonprofits. "It's a lot to choose from," Key said.

Fallbrook's American Legion chapter uses the VFW post for activities. The VFW was unable to hold fundraisers during the coronavirus siege, so Key chose that as her charity. "They're special to me and need the support," she said.

The fundraising began in late July, and the money was due Sept. 10. "My goal was between 12 and 15,000 thousand," Key said. "More is always better."

Key met the lower end of her goal, raising approximately $12,000 for the VFW.

"The honorary mayor is more of a fundraiser than anything else," Key said.

Key and her husband also volunteer for LifePointe Church and at Hope Clinic for Women.

"That's really the backbone of our community. It doesn't run without volunteers," Key said. "I'm privileged to be part of our community."


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