Former state Rep. Holly Raschein is back serving Florida Keys constituents, this time as a county commissioner.
Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Raschein to the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners’ District 5 seat on Sept. 24. Raschein, who served eight years as state representative and serves as government relations director for AshBritt, will fill the seat of Mike Forster, who passed away from COVID-19 on Sept. 6. Raschein submitted her application to the governor’s office for Forster’s seat on Sept. 13.
Raschein will serve through 2022. An election will then take place for the remaining two years of the term for District 5, which serves Key Largo and Tavernier.
Raschein told the Weekly that it’s a bittersweet appointment for her. She said she was made aware of DeSantis’ decision an hour before the announcement went public. She was officially sworn in Sept. 28.
“It’s surreal, and it hit me Monday afternoon when I had a moment of meditation and thinking about Mike and this amazing community,” Raschein said.
Raschein had known Forster since her early days in politics as a legislative aide. Forster’s public service began in the early 2000s as an Islamorada Local Planning Agency member. He would then serve five terms, or 12 years, as an Islamorada council member before going on to become a county commissioner in November 2020.
“A brilliant public servant was taken from us far too early, and no one will ever fully fill the shoes of Mike Forster,” Raschein said. “But the people of Monroe County deserve Mike’s legacy to be continued, and I am deeply humbled and grateful that Governor DeSantis is entrusting that task to me.”
Among those recommending Raschein to DeSantis was Monroe County Mayor Michelle Coldiron.
“I thought that people in the Upper Keys right now are hurting because of the loss of Mike. Holly and Mike’s philosophies are similar, and people who voted for Holly also voted for Mike all these years,” she said. “It made perfect sense to appoint Holly.”
Serving as a member of the Florida Housing Finance Corporation board of directors, Raschein is also on the boards of the Mariners Hospital Foundation, Leadership Monroe County, and Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition. She’s a past member of the Florida Defense Support Task Force and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Florida State University and master’s in public administration from Florida International University.
“I have spent almost my entire adult life serving the Florida Keys,” she said. “Our people gave me that privilege for eight years in the (state) Legislature, and I will use theshoalspharmacy.com/pharmacy-services their gift to continue our common fight for a better environment and more resilient community.”
Coldiron said she foresees Raschein being ready once commissioners gather for a regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 20 at the Marathon Government Center.
“I know Holly; she will do what I did, which is have lots of meetings with staff, meet with department heads and hear directly from departments on what their issues are,” she said. “She’ll read up on the travel study we’re doing, ROGOs and what county commissioners voted on to spread them out to 2024 and 2026. She’ll also see where our priorities are and then decide her priorities too.”
Raschein, who will be at the Oct. 20 meeting, said she’s keeping Forster’s executive assistant, Corie McGraw-Abel.
“Mike had a lot of irons in the fire, and I want to stick to that promise and continue his projects,” Raschein said. “She knows what’s been going on since Mike brought her on board, and there’s no better choice than her.”