State Rep. Holly Raschein and Islamorada Councilman Jim Mooney, who’s running for state representative. CONTRIBUTED

Florida State Rep. Holly Raschein knows what it takes to represent the unique 120th district, which comprises the Florida Keys and a portion of southern Miami-Dade. Having served nearly two decades advocating for constituents, Raschein is endorsing longtime resident and current Islamorada councilman Jim Mooney in the race for District 120. 

In her endorsement announced Friday, Raschein says she’s confident that Mooney’s knowledge, experience and passion for service will best serve the district. Raschein has served as representative for District 120 since 2012. She’s set to to term out at the end of this year.

Raschein added that Mooney’s a “tremendous steward of the environment,” community-minded and an overall “good fit in Tallahassee” as an advocate for residents. 

“As someone who’s lived down here for many years, he understands what it means to represent an area with such unique challenges we have,” Raschein told the Weekly on Friday morning. “He knows the fabric of the local community and he shares that through his leadership at the local level. Jim has earned my whole-hearted endorsement.”

Mooney, who’s one of three on the Republican side vying for the seat, told the Weekly that Raschein’s endorsement “means everything.”

“To have her put her trust and faith in me, that alone speaks volumes,” he said. “The fact that she takes it the next step further and understands the efforts I’ve put in the Keys over my lifetime — trying to be a steward of pretty much everything that has to do with South Florida in general — it means a lot to me.”

The Republican candidate told the Weekly when he announced his run in May 2019 that he heard from a number of residents and leaders who thought he should pursue the seat. He’s lived in the Keys his entire life and has been a school teacher, coach and small business owner.

Serving on the Islamorada dais for a number of years, and serving twice as mayor — notably during and after Hurricane Irma — Mooney said he thought long and hard about running for the state seat before ultimately deciding. 

Fast forward to today, Mooney says he’s continuing to get out in the community, but in a different way in the current pandemic as a volunteer at meal and food distributions throughout the Keys. Mooney said he had a decision to make: bang on doors in a time of crisis to campaign and secure petitions or give a helping hand where it’s needed.

State representative candidate Jim Mooney and Lee Young, campaign manager, spend time with Violet Wahba, owner of Key Lime Tree, handing out hot meals this past week. CONTRIBUTED

“I think I made the right decision in helping people in a time of need,” he said. “The job situation is dire.”

Mooney is also working alongside the four other village council members as a slow reopening continues.

Mooney says he’s not running for office to get his “name on the door in Tallahassee.” More, he says he’s doing it for the love of the state as a fifth-generation Floridian and a resident of the Keys since he was young. 

“I’m a guy who just cares. I love the Florida Keys,” he said. 

Overall, Mooney says there’s plenty of challenges to tackle from the Everglades to saltwater intrusion. 

“I will have no problem leaning on Holly’s expertise to help me through some difficult, mind-boggling situations. I’m sure it gets very convoluted quickly. I’m just going to get up there, if elected, and do what I can do and learn from those who she helped teach,” he said. 

Mooney is joined in the race on the Republican side by Key Largo resident Rhonda Rebman Lopez and attorney Alexandria Suarez. On the Democratic side, Key West’s Clint Barras is vying for the seat. 

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