Representative Jim Mooney is running for reelection in the Florida House of Representatives for District 120 after a pretty successful first term.
Mooney joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about everything he has learned during his tenure.
He has served on a number of different committees and brought in some different initiatives.
Mooney said, “When you go up there, regardless of your background, certainly having some local government experience is a help for sure, as far as just understanding some of the processes.”
He learned that a person needs more people to get initiatives passed. In local government, it may be just five or six people who need to agree – it’s vastly different in the state.
Mooney said, “Our initiatives were really driven by the county and the city. The county has things they need. Our plans for this year was the anchoring bill of Key West. That was very important to the City of Key West and that area. I know that it started with 300 buoys and that was part of the bill for the 21 session was 300 buoys. So we had to morph that as they went back, the stakeholders went back and looked at it again and again and again and realized 100 would work, plus there was 50 more going in…so it was really 150 of them.”
What the bill did was put everybody north of Marathon in a position of needing to move their boats every 90 days.
Mooney said, “It took a while to convince people that didn’t seem fair that everybody could stay in one spot and once the mooring fields are in place, everybody else has got to keep moving. Don’t get me wrong, we need mooring fields in the upper Keys and from Marathon north. We really don’t have mooring fields, per se.”
A lot of the work force use the mooring fields.
Mooney said, “It was very important to me to make sure that they’d have to pack up and move a nautical mile, it’s not always a great place to anchor a nautical mile. Continue to get some mooring fields put in there. So that was a pretty big initiative.”
The number one priority of Monroe County is the stewardship money.
Mooney said, “That’s sort of our lifeblood to continue to take care of the environment. So those are super important.”
Sheriff’s Housing, was an interlocal agreement between Key West and the Sheriff’s Office, would provide 50 units of affordable housing to be constructed for employees of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
Mooney said, “What we had to do with that was go outside of ROGO (the Rate of Growth Ordinance). When you’re in Tallahassee and you say ROGO and they look at you like deer in headlights. They have no idea what that means. We all know what that means. It’s an ‘oh gosh’ moment, but we got that through.”
Another bill was for Keys Energy so a takeover couldn’t occur without the voter’s consideration.
Mooney explained, “In Jacksonville there was a potential sell-off of their utilities without asking the stakeholders, aka the citizens paying all the bills. It didn’t go very well for them. So we tried to make sure that couldn’t happen pretty much south of the Seven Mile Bridge without the voters choice.”
Six of his bills got across the finish line and signed by the governor.
Mooney said, “All in all it’s been I think a very successful first term.”
In terms of education in Florida, secondary education is ranked pretty high in the country.
Mooney said, “One thing I really did enjoy was the assessment, getting rid of all these critical tests that we’ve taken that when I first starting teaching in the 70s it was like oh my god, these kids, they’re throwing three quarters, a nickel and a dime out there and calling that a test. I was like, what are we doing?”
High school kids will be required to take a class on how to balance a checkbook.
Mooney said, “I think most teachers would agree that that should have been started a very long time ago, not in 2023. It’s going to go into effect next school term, but my gosh, why in the world would it take that long to teach kids how to just balance a checkbook?”
Lifelong learning and earning skills are other big focuses.
Mooney said, “Sort of taking Shakespeare out of it for a lot of students and putting in real time jobs, real important jobs to all of us. We need somebody to fix our water supply system coming into the house. We need an HVAC person. We need electricians. We need all the plumbers. We need all those people and yet we don’t emphasize the need.”
Mooney reminded listeners that ordinances are part of the checks and balances system.
He said, “We have to have those in place and there’s a way to…come to the meeting, you express your concerns, you sit down with staff and members of council and you say guys, this sounds great, not a bad thing, here’s where it goes south and you listen to them. Everything affects somebody else differently than it affects the next person. It’s very important to listen to constituents.”
To contact Mooney, email [email protected] or call him at 305-522-3383.