Alliance seeks to keep residents apprised of village issues

An aerial of Snake Creek Bridge in Islamorada. DAVID GROSS/Contributed

A recently-formed “alliance” is setting out to keep Islamorada residents up to date and informed on the various matters happening in the village.

Creation of the Islamorada Community Alliance began last year by residents Cheryl Meads, former councilwoman and current South Florida Water Management District governing board member; longtime resident Capt. Ed Davidson; resident Sue Miller; John Kocol, former Island Hammock Pet Hospital owner; and Tom Raffanello, resident who’s running for county commission. 

Raffanello said the ICA’s mission focuses on the people by giving them the necessary information on everything from village government to issues surrounding vacation rentals and traffic. He also said the ICA is dedicated to the village’s unique ecology and lifestyle. 

“Our constituents are the residents of Islamorada. Their issues are our issues,” he said. “We don’t have an agenda. We reflect (the community’s) agenda. We just give them the facts on what’s happening with these different issues.” 

Through the ICA, he said, an educated public is a “public that won’t let things get by them.”

“Things should all be transparent. We all agree to that,” he said. “And sometimes in the past they haven’t been.”

The Islamorada Community Alliance’s mission is “to provide the Islamorada residents with information about events occurring in our community that will impact our quality of life, preservation of our native ecosystems, land development, lawful and transparent governance.”

The ICA is optimistic with the current council, Raffanello said. He also commended councilman Henry Rosenthal for his work on the canceled pedestrian bridge project by Founders Park. The group will continue to back things that are good for the people and environment, he said. 

“We’re not trying to force anything. We just want to get behind things that make sense, and we want to support the residents in what they want,” he said. 

The ICA is chartered as a nonprofit that’s funded through member donations. The group doesn’t accept donations from any commercial entity. More information is at

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Jim McCarthy is a Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 3-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, mixed martial arts and golf. He loves to hit the links and play some softball with his Make A Play team. He also enjoys time with family (he's expecting a little boy in October).