Holly Raschein: 'Socially Moderate' Republican to Target Wastewater, Property Insurance
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Birthplace: Anchorage, Alaska
Residence: Key Largo
Education: Florida State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science
Previous Public Office: None.
Family: Husband, son
Did you know? Is a ballet dancer (I love it; any chance I get, I take a class."); born and raised in Alaska, and "would love to" meet former Gov. Sarah Palin: "She did wonderful things for our state; she took on a corrupt Republican party and really cleaned up the state. Say what you will about her nationally, but she did a wonderful, amazing job for Alaska."
Monroe County's new representative is no freshman to state politics, and her legislative experience and priorities reflect the ideological diversity of her district and the issues important to its constituents.
"People always assumed I was a Democrat," Rep. Holly Raschein, R-Key Largo, tells Sunshine State News, referring to her service as a legislative aide to former Rep. Ron Saunders, D-Key West, from 2006 to 2011. "But they always forgot that my first job was for a Republican, Ken Sorensen [of Key Largo]."
Raschein's election to the Florida House of Representatives in November might be her first foray into elected office, but she has called the Florida Capitol her second home since 2001, when the junior poli-sci major at Florida State University began working full-time at Robert M. Levy & Associates, a government relations firm located in Tallahassee.
She went to work for Sorenson right after graduating college, serving as his aide while he represented District 120, which includes Monroe County and parts of south Miami-Dade. After he was term limited, Raschein kept her position working for Saunders, his successor.
"Ron always said we had a very bipartisan office, very much like our district, which is very half-n-half, so it was a good match," she says of the "six wonderful years."
She "can't be more pleased" with the committee assignments given her by House Speaker Will Weatherford, each of which she requested for their special relevancy to her district.
Besides the important Economic Affairs and Local and Federal Affairs committees, she sits on the subcommittees for Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations ("That pretty much sums up my district as a whole."), Transportation and Highway Safety ("[Monroe County's] one highway is the lifeblood of our community."), and Veteran and Military Affairs (her district includes a Navy base and borders an Air Reserve base).
Her legislative priorities may not make for the most thrilling of headlines, but they're important to her constituents.
"My No. 1 priority is completion of the Florida Keys wastewater plan," she explains, referring to her HB 467 ("Bonds for Everglades Restoration"), which would allow the Legislature to allocate an extra $50 million to her district for the construction of stormwater management and sewage facilities. "Anything involving environmental funding is huge to me; I am extremely supportive of all Everglades restoration efforts and want to see those continue and even be funded more, if possible."
Her second priority, HB 819 ("Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology"), increases the number of members who sit on the state's hurricane methodology commission and requires that body to perform annual (instead of biennial) assessments on the estimated costs of hurricanes to the Sunshine State.
"Property insurance is a huge deal down in the Keys," she explains. "We represent a large amount of risk, but we have the strongest building codes, so it's a matter of finding that balance between those two issues."
A self-styled "fiscally conservative, socially moderate" Republican, Raschein is proud of several alliances she's already formed with legislators from the opposing party. HB 467's Senate companion has been filed by Democrat Dwight Bullard of Cutler Bay, and she's the principal co-sponsor, with Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, of HB 3 ("Child Safety Devices in Motor Vehicles"), which would require all 7-year-olds below 4 feet 9 inches in height to sit in booster seats while driving in cars.
She is also the chief co-sponsor of Democratic Joe Saunders' HB 653 ("Prohibited Discrimination"), which adds sexual orientation and "gender identity" to the list of characteristics against which private businesses cannot discriminate in the provision of employment or services.
Insisting that the measure, opposed by many of the state's social conservatives, makes good civic and business sense, she says she's "working to bring as many of my [Republican] colleagues on board as possible."
Reach Eric Giunta at email@example.com or at (954) 235-9116.