“I’ve always said I don’t run for office; I run from office,” the Florida Keys’ newest county commissioner told the Keys Weekly on May 2. 

Jim Scholl, former Key West city manager and naval aviator who commanded Naval Air Station Key West in the early 2000s, didn’t run for the office of county commissioner, but rather was appointed last week by Gov. Ron DeSantis to replace Eddie Martinez in the District 3 seat. Martinez resigned in December 2021 following his arrest on suspicion of domestic violence.

Martinez’s term would have ended in 2024, but because he resigned with more than 28 month remaining, Scholl’s appointment by the governor “only lasts until one week after the next general election,” Supervisor of Elections Joyce Griffin said, meaning the seat will be up for grabs this coming November.

Scholl said he plans to seek election to the seat in the coming election.

“Before I was appointed, I was already planning to run for Martinez’s seat this November as a Republican candidate,” Scholl told the Keys Weekly on May 2, after meetings with the county attorney, county administrator following his appointment.

His swearing-in ceremony will take place at the May 18 county commission meeting in Key West, which is the district Scholl now represents. 

Scholl’s District 3 seat covers the western part of Key West. Commissioner Craig Cates represents District 1, which includes the eastern side of Key West, Stock Island and Key Haven. In an odd bit of district numbering, Commissioner Michelle Coldiron represents District 2, which stretches from Boca Chica up to the Seven Mile Bridge, including the north side of U.S. 1 to 63rd Court in Marathon.

“I certainly understand the issues, I’ve been paying attention and I know everyone involved,” Scholl said, adding that he has maintained close ties and good relationships with the military leaders at NAS Key West as well as city of Key West and county officials.

He lists workforce housing, sea level rise and resiliency and quality of life for residents among his top issues and priorities for the county.

“We have some serious things to figure out when it comes to sea level rise and adaptability and which projects make sense to do,” he said. “When it comes to quality of life, investors buying up all property in the Keys obviously has a huge impact on quality of life, but of course, property owners have property rights. And our workforce housing situation is devastating to everyone,” he said.

When asked whether he thinks Key West’s and/or the Florida Keys’ relationship with the state legislature needs to be repaired, Scholl said he doesn’t believe so and added that he works well with our state representatives.

“Of course, some rhetoric gets stirred up in social media. People exacerbate a problem that may not even exist. It’s embarrassing and disappointing that we’ve lost our sense of knowledge from history lessons. The easiest way to cause big problems is to demonize something, and social media makes that easier than ever before.”

Scholl added that he recently spoke with Jonathan Gueverra, president of the College of the Florida Keys, about the demise of critical-thinking skills and Americans’ inability to be discerning in the information they absorb and believe. 

“There’s so much information now in the public domain, but no one wants to go to the actual source or use critical thinking to evaluate those sources,” Scholl said. “We all need to work together for the greater good, not personal gain. It’s embarrassing when the Oval Office becomes, or did become, vitriolic and utterly forgoes diplomacy.” 

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Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.