From left, Kate DeLoach, Audra Hill and Jason Koler.

Ever thought about running for school board, village council, county commissioner, a state seat or Congress? More than 20 people running for office or interested in a possible future run learned some of the campaign basics at a candidate “boot camp” on May 31 and June 1 at Founders Park Community Center. Organized by the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce, the boot camp was led by Kate DeLoach, lobbyist with The Southern Group; Audra Wallace, certified public accountant and founder of Tolley & Hill; and Jason Koler, publisher of Keys Weekly Newspapers and owner of Overseas Media Group. Attendees learned about the intricacies of campaign finance, campaign laws, the importance of community outreach, media relations and more. Guest speakers included county commissioner and former state Rep. Holly Raschein and former Islamorada councilman and current state Rep. Jim Mooney. “I think it’s incredibly important to know why you’re running for office,” DeLoach told the group during opening remarks.” The chamber hopes to host another boot camp for interested candidates in the future.

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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).