Chris Massicotte

There’s some new competition for a seat on the Monroe County Board of Commissioners (BOCC).

Chris Massicotte, a Democrat with a background in accounting and political campaign advertising, wants the District 3 BOCC seat, which is currently held by Commissioner Jim Scholl and covers the western part of Key West, including Old Town. 

Massicotte filed paperwork on Feb. 1 to announce his candidacy, placing him against the incumbent Scholl, a Republican and former Key West city manager who was also commander of Naval Air Station Key West. 

Scholl was appointed to the BOCC by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis after former commissioner Eddie Martinez resigned in 2021 amid a domestic-violence arrest and questions over his legal residency. 

His campaign website and fundraising platform promises that Massicotte will act as a budget watchdog that he says BOCC sorely needs, with a current county budget that sits at $667 million. 

“No other county in Florida spends as extravagantly,” Massicotte said. 

He called out the five-member commission for spending less time holding public discussions than in years past. 

“Over the past two years, as our budget has swelled, the monthly meetings have paradoxically shortened,” Massicotte says on his site. “There’s been a noticeable decline in discussion and engagement from commissioners.”

Massicotte moved to Key West in 2017 after a vacation to the island. He’s a co-founder of Duval Street Media, a marketing firm; has been involved in the Safer Cleaner Ships campaign that led to a reduction in the size and number of cruise ships coming to Key West; and is on the boards of Fair Insurance Rates Monroe, which fights Tallahassee for fair windstorm insurance rates, and the Key West AIDS Memorial.

In the Keys, rising property taxes hit renters the hardest, he said, because long-term rental properties lack homestead exemptions. 

“I’m tired of watching my friends have to leave the Keys, not because they want to, but because they are left with no other choice,” Massicotte said. “The actions of the BOCC over the last two years have made the problem worse, not better.”

Although county commissioners each represent a certain segment of the Keys, they are elected by all voters in the Keys. All five current commissioners are Republicans.

Two more BOCC races

Also seeking reelection is County Mayor Holly Raschein, a Republican who served eight years in the Florida State House before being appointed to the BOCC by Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

Raschein, who holds the District 5 office in the Upper Keys, so far has one challenger on the ballot: perennial Republican candidate Jose Felix Peixoto.

Commissioner Craig Cates, of Key West, is running for another term without competition as of press time. Cates represents District 1, which is the eastern part of Key West, Stock Island and Key Haven.