Gov. DeSantis appoints 3, sends 5 back to Lower Florida Keys Hospital District Board

3 appointees donated to him.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is sending three new members to the Lower Florida Keys Hospital District (LFKHD) Board of Commissioners, where they’ll serve alongside five current members he just reappointed.

Their appointments come in the wake of a packed meeting this month at which residents of the 26,000 city of Key West shared concerns that many of their health needs — including cancer care — aren’t being met locally now and conditions may worsen.

One new Commissioner and two returning members donated to the Governor’s election and re-election campaigns, state records show.

That includes newcomer Richard Toppino, a construction executive who currently serves on the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority and previously sat on the Monroe County Housing Authority.

Between 2008 and 2022, Toppino made $14,250 in state-level donations, including $5,000 in 2019 to DeSantis’ now-closed political committee, Empower Parents PAC — then named “Friends of Ron DeSantis.”

Another new member is Mary Spottswood, who works as the in-house counsel for Spottswood Companies, a Key West-based real estate investment business whose subsidiaries include travel platform Brightwild and developer Keystar.

The third new member, Erica Sterling, is a partner at Spottswood, Spottswood, Spottswood & Sterling PLLC, a Key West Law firm linked to the Spottswood Companies.

While Sterling did not donate to DeSantis, she did make a $250 contribution in 2020 to Doral Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, whose district covers all of the Florida Keys.

The returning members include:

— Chair Leslie Thompson, the Director of Exceptional Student Education for Monroe County Schools. She is the recipient of the 2010 Service Above Self Award from the United States Coast Guard, 2008 Monroe County District Ambassador of the Year Award and 2003 State of Florida Administrator of the Year Award from the Florida Department of Education.

— Vice Chair James “Doc” Muir, a retired FedEx Corp. pilot and U.S. Navy veteran. He donated $25 to DeSantis in 2022.

— Secretary Kathryn Ovide, manager of Sunset Marina and former Director of Customer Service for the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority. She is also the founding member of the Lower Keys Heart Council. Of nearly $2,000 in state-level donations Ovide made since 2006, about $240 went to DeSantis between 2018 and 2022.

Mary Chambers, President of Earleton-based MyCera Inc. and a former School District Superintendent of Alachua and Monroe counties. She currently serves as Treasurer of the Monroe Education Foundation and Monroe Tropical Research Nonprofit.

Stephen Hammond, a realtor with LoKation Real Estate and a member of the Key West Association of Realtors.

LFKHD is a special taxing district the Florida Legislature created in 1967 to fund and maintain hospital provisions for residents between Key West and the Seven Mile Bridge. That includes a lease to Key West HMA, a Tennessee-based limited liability company that operates the Lower Keys Medical Center acute care hospital; and the Key West Health and Rehabilitation Center nursing home.

Spottswood, Sterling and Toppino fill one vacancy and replace Sue Harrison and Jay Levin, the Board Treasurer.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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