The Monroe County Commission has a new member: Holly Merrill Raschein, who will succeed late Commissioner Mike Forster on the dais representing District 5.
Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Raschein, a Republican and former state Representative from Key Largo, to complete Forster’s term. Earlier this month, Forster died of pneumonia linked to COVID-19. He was 61.
Raschein last week sent DeSantis an application to serve in Forster’s seat, which represents Key Largo and Tavernier, through 2022.
Others followed, including former state Representative candidate Rhonda Rebman Lopez and Tony Allen, a funeral home owner and chairman of the Key Largo Fire and EMS District.
A 5 p.m. news release Friday announced DeSantis had selected Raschein to replace Forster, whom the DeSantis honored Sept. 17 by directing the flags of the United States and Florida to be flown at half-staff at the Murray Nelson Government Center in Key Largo and the Islamorada Administrative Center and Public Safety Headquarters.
Raschein said her appointment to the Monroe Commission is “bittersweet.”
“A brilliant public servant was taken from us far too early, and no one will ever fill the shoes of Mike Forster,” she told Florida Politics. “But the people of Monroe County deserve Mike’s legacy to be continued, and I am deeply humbled and grateful that Gov. DeSantis is entrusting that task to me.”
Raschein served eight years in the Florida House representing District 120, which covers Monroe County and southern Miami-Dade County, before becoming term-limited last year.
Shortly after leaving office, she took a job as Director of Government Relations at AshBritt Environmental, which describes itself as “a national turnkey rapid-response disaster recovery and special environmental services contractor.”
She is also a market adviser for First State Bank of the Florida Keys, according to the news release and her AshBritt bio.
Raschein was born in Anchorage, Alaska, and moved to Florida in 1999. She earned a bachelor of political science from Florida State University and a master of public administration from Florida International University.
Before running for office, she worked as a legislative aide for Republican state Rep. Ken Sorensen in District 120. After Sorensen reached term limits, she continued to work in the office under Democratic state Rep. Ron Saunders.
In 2012, the state’s legislative districts were reconfigured and Saunders opted to run for the Florida Senate. Raschein ran for his seat and won.
While serving in Tallahassee, Raschein was chair of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriation Subcommittee and the House Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee.
Following Hurricane Irma in 2017, which struck the Keys as a Category 4 storm, she worked on the state’s local emergency response.
“I have spent almost my entire adult life serving the Florida Keys,” she said Friday. “Our people gave me that privilege for eight years in the Legislature, and I will use their gift to continue our common fight for a better environment and more resilient life.”