Exclusive Interview with Jim Mooney, Announcing his Run for Holly Raschein’s Seat in the State House

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Jim Mooney, District 120, election, state representative

He was 99 percent sure last year about a run for state representative with current Rep. Holly Raschein terming out in 2020. Last week, Islamorada native and current councilman Jim Mooney finalized that decision. He’s 100 percent in.

It was a year and a half ago when Mooney heard from others that he should pursue Raschein’s seat. Thinking long and hard about a potential run, Mooney, a Republican, says he also heard from some people in Monroe County he highly respects who told him to go for it.

“I was like, yeah we’ll see,” Mooney said in a recent sit-down with the Weekly. “Then there’s the moment where you go, shoot, have I lost my mind? And what if I’m going to spend the summer somewhere else? Then I thought, ‘Yeah, I’m not going anywhere.’”

Mooney is well attuned to the government scene, having served as mayor and councilman of the village for a number of years. He’s also visited Tallahassee on several occasions for Keys Day, witnessing the basic interworking of it all. Mooney said he could have served one more term on the village dais. The decision to forgo that wasn’t easy, he says.

“I spoke to my daughter and my son and my fiancée, and the village and Roget (Bryan) and Seth (Lawless),” Mooney said. “I asked them point blank where would I better serve the village and the Keys. And they said Tallahassee. I hate just walking away from things when you still have more time available.”

Growing up in the Keys, Mooney is very well familiar with the issues — water quality especially having been around it since he was a kid. Mooney says water quality and building a resilient Florida Keys is everything at the end of the day.

“We know it can be done,” Mooney says. “My philosophy is every step taken is a positive step.”

Mooney admits that filling Raschein’s shoes wouldn’t be easy. He said she’s been inspirational and “a super rock star.”

“She’s so well respected up there,” he said. “She worked for Ron Saunders, a Democrat. She worked for Ken Sorensen. She earned her spot, and those are two really good guys who worked hard to take care of the southern district. Holly earned it all.”

Mooney says he believes he can bring continued knowledge of the Keys to Tallahassee. And having watched session before at the state capitol, he notes that it’s a much bigger arena.

“I don’t mean that from workload or numbers of people, but everybody’s fighting for the slice of the pie,” he said. “We’re District 120, and we have tons of needs that other districts maybe don’t. It’s going to be a delicate balance act how you get what you want and help them get what they want, and hope you can meet somewhere in the middle.”

Mooney says if he’s fortunate enough to win, he feels he can get the job done.

“It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m excited about it. Of course, I got to win,” Mooney said. “I have good support down here. The Florida Keys is my home, and Islamorada is my home.”

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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).