DeSantis appoints ex-state House rep to Keys commission seat after commissioner dies

·2 min read

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday afternoon that he appointed Holly Raschein, former Keys representative for the state House, to finish the remaining time left on Monroe County Commissioner Mike Forster’s term.

Forster died Sept. 6 from pneumonia caused by a weeks-long battle with COVID-19. He was 61. He was elected to the District 5 seat in November 2020 and his term would have expired in 2022.

Raschein, 40, represented District 120 of the Florida House, which includes all of the Florida Keys, from 2012 until she was term limited from running again in November 2020. She and Forster, a popular Keys restaurant owner, were close friends.

“No one will ever fill the shoes of Mike Forster, but I am deeply humbled and grateful that Governor DeSantis is giving me the opportunity to try,” Raschein said in a statement. “I have spent my entire adult life serving the Florida Keys, and I will work tirelessly to continue our common fight for a better environment and an even more resilient community.”

Mike Forster is seen here with several children in a village in Uganda, where he went on several annual missions to help poor children. The Monroe County Commissioner died of COVID in September.
Mike Forster is seen here with several children in a village in Uganda, where he went on several annual missions to help poor children. The Monroe County Commissioner died of COVID in September.

She began her professional career after graduating from Florida State University working as the legislative aide to Ken Sorensen, a Republican powerhouse who represented District 120 in the early 2000s. When he was term-limited out of office, he backed Democrat Ron Saunders to replace him.

Saunders successfully ran for the office, and Raschein became his legislative aide, a job she kept until she was elected in 2012.

During her tenure, Raschein, a Republican, was chairwoman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriation Subcommittee and the House Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee.

Since leaving the Legislature, she has been hired both as government relations director for AshBritt Environmental and market adviser for First State Bank of the Florida Keys.

AshBritt, a Deerfield Beach debris removing company, has a lawsuit against Monroe stemming from contracts the county made with other companies after the Category 4 Hurricane Irma in September 2017. Raschein said in an interview after applying for Forster’s seat that she would recuse herself on any matters the company had with the county.

DeSantis made the announcement about Raschein in a press release with no other statements other than she was his choice and information about her professional and academic background.

DeSantis’ media relations office said last week that other candidates applied for the county commission seat, but did not release a list of those names.

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