Raschein sworn in as new county commissioner

Monroe County District 5 Commissioner Holly Raschein is sworn in by Deputy Clerk Jennifer Belz. Her son, Drake, was present at the ceremony. CONTRIBUTED

Former state Rep. Holly Raschein is back serving Florida Keys constituents, this time as a county commissioner. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Raschein, of Key Largo, to the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners’ District 5 seat on Friday. Raschein, who served eight years as state representative and currently works 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.

She was officially sworn in at the Murray Nelson Government Center by Jennifer Belz, deputy clerk, on Sept. 28.

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 shortly after the announcement that it’s a bittersweet announcement for her. 

Former state Rep. Holly Raschein speaks with Monroe County Commissioner David Rice during a Mote Marine Laboratory event in Islamorada in May. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

Raschein’s 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,” she 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.”

Serving as a member of the Florida Housing Finance Corporation Board of Directors, Rashein’s also on the Mariners Hospital Foundation Board; Leadership Monroe County Board; and Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition Board. She’s a past member of the Florida Defense Support Task Force and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Florida State University and master of 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 their gift to continue our common fight for a better environment and more resilient community.”

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.”

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Jim McCarthy is a northerner 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 his graduation from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 3 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. Behind every community is resiliency and resolve in difficult times. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim serves as President of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. “It’s a group that lives by the motto ‘Service Above Self,’” he says. “We’ve done service projects at the Tavernier nursing home, sitting down and socializing with residents. “We’ve also supplied cameras to young students exploring the Keys ecosystem.” Jim loves sports, family and time exploring underneath the water depths.