Rick Haskins plans to be a full-time mayor.
The real estate broker and Key West native filed his paperwork on Monday, officially entering the Key West mayor’s race.
Haskins will face incumbent Mayor Teri Johnston and former city commissioner Mark Rossi, who owns Rick’s/Durty Harry’s entertainment complex on Duval Street.
“I’m confident Key West will win on Aug. 18,” Haskins, 47, told the Weekly on June 2. “I know I’m the man for the job, but whether I’m Mayor Haskins, or just Rick Haskins, I know I can bring enough attention to the issues that are most important to our residents to ensure that Key West wins in August. I’m with the residents 100%.”
Haskins said he plans to spend the summer meeting with and listening to island residents.
“But listening means nothing if you don’t hear people, and then take action to get things done,” he said. “As a real estate broker, it’s my job to bring people together and make a connection so each side feels that they’ve gotten a good deal. That’s what I can do with this community, and I don’t do anything halfway.”
He said he doesn’t need to take a position on the ongoing cruise ship debate, “because the voters will decide that issue, and whatever they decide is what I will fully support.”
He resigned his position with Vacasa vacation rental company last week, and intends to campaign — and then, he hopes, serve as mayor full time and nonstop.
His top priorities include improving the city’s affordable and public housing developments; protecting the Key West Wildlife Center, where Haskins worked and volunteered for years, and bringing business back to Key West.
“I want to bring the Key West Housing Authority — the city’s biggest landlord — full circle,” he said. “We need to take more pride in those neighborhoods, and I know money is always an issue, but there are plenty of positive changes we can make without a lot of money. We need a better plan than what we have now.
“My platform starts with those three priorities, but will include anything that’s important to the people of this town,” he said.
Haskins spent nine years in the U.S. Navy after high school, and helped South Florida recover from Hurricane Andrew. He then worked in Big Pine Key following Hurricane Georges in 1998 and in Key West following Wilma and Irma.
The Haskins family name has been familiar in Key West and throughout the Florida Keys for several generations. Rick Haskins’ uncle, Henry Haskins, served as Monroe County sheriff in the 1960s. The Senior Citizen Plaza on Kennedy Drive now bears his name. And his brother, Tommy, heads up the family’s plumbing business, Haskins Plumbing.
“Conch kids of my generation were raised right,” he said. “It’s great to see the people I grew up with taking leadership roles in our city, and it’s time to let our parents know they did a great job.
“I want to bring my leadership to revitalize the local industries while taking pride in what it means to be a Conch,” he said, adding that he will always be reachable and available to the people of Key West.
Haskins said he will hold an official, socially responsible, campaign launch event on June 13 with details and location to be determined.