May 22, 2019

ISLAMORADA — An Islamorada Village Council member will set his sights on a term in the Florida Legislature.

“It’s tough to keep a secret in the Florida Keys,” Jim Mooney said of his planned campaign for Monroe County’s District 120 seat in the Florida House of Representatives.

No one has yet formally filed to seek the District 120 seat, now held by Republican Holly Raschein of Key Largo. Raschein was reelected last year to her fourth two-year term and will step down in 2020 because of term limits.

“I’m a big believer in home rule. I believe the Florida Keys know how to take care of our citizens,” said Mooney, referring to recent attempts by state lawmakers to curtail regulatory action by local governments.

He also wants to continue Raschein’s work to secure more state funding to protect water quality.

“Those are big shoes to fill, but we’ll figure it out along the way,” he said. “We’ve been talking to some really informed people. On the whole, things look positive.”

Mooney, 68, is a lifelong Upper Keys resident who graduated from Coral Shores High School and came home to Islamorada after attending the University of Miami.

He was elected to Islamorada’s first-ever village council in March 1998 with a nearly 3-to-1 margin over his opponent. Mooney lost a narrow race in 2002 but returned to the board a dozen years later. He was unopposed for his third consecutive term in 2018.

Mooney has been a partner in several Upper Keys retail businesses, but now primarily focuses on his real estate career.

Mooney was an active supporter of Islamorada’s ordinance that prevented new chain-retail stores from opening in the village. That rule was overturned in a 2008 court decision, which still rankles the Republican.

“We incorporated to keep the big-box businesses out of here,” he said in 2017. “Islamorada was one of the last places in the Florida Keys that had not been inundated with the cubes.”

Mooney said he expects to file election documents with the state “within the next few weeks. This [campaign] started more than a year ago.”

Statewide, about 152 candidates have filed to run in 2020 for the Florida House. Only a handful, including District 120, which represents the Keys and south Miami-Dade County, have not drawn official entries.