Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke to Monroe County and local municipality government officials on Tuesday about a range of topics, from hurricane recovery to canal restoration. Alongside him at Coast Guard Station Marathon was Lieut. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, Department of Economic Opportunity Director Ken Lawson, Secretary Noah Valenstein of Environmental Protection, and Florida Department of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz.
During the roundtable before the press conference, Monroe County Mayor Sylvia Murphy voiced her concerns on behalf of the citizens of Monroe County regarding housing and the environment. She said she was happy DeSantis came to the Florida Keys, even though his trip was short. “He listened to our concerns and I think he really understands that water quality is our backbone. He also knows we are still trying to undo Hurricane Irma,” she said.
Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi also spoke at the roundtable. “It is clear the Governor and Lt. Governor understand the needs of the Florida Keys and we look forward to working with them to enhance paradise,” he said. Monroe County Commissioners David Rice and Michelle Coldiron, Monroe County Emergency Management Director Marty Senterfitt, and other County staff were also in attendance as well as State Attorney Dennis Ward and Monroe County Clerk Kevin Madok. The U.S. Coast Guard, City of Marathon, City of Key West, City of Key Colony Beach, Village of Islamorada, Florida Keys Community College, and multiple other agencies were represented at the briefing.
During the press briefing, DeSantis said he knows the Florida Keys were ground zero for Hurricane Irma. His staff is streamlining the hurricane reimbursement process for future hurricanes. He has also tasked the Department of Economic Opportunity with Rebuild Florida – a program created to help those affected by Hurricane Irma recover.
DeSantis commended Monroe County government for the complete overhaul of the wastewater system from septic to sewer. He said he wants to shift the focus now to the more than 500 canals in the Keys by announcing a multiyear Canal Restoration Work Program. Monroe County Director of Sustainability Rhonda Haag said canal restoration is one of the most important pieces to improving and restoring Florida Keys waters.
Along the same lines, DeSantis and Lt. Gov. Nunez, who has a home in Islamorada, recognized the importance of focusing on the Everglades, the health of Florida Bay, and the Tamiami Trail project, as well as coral restoration.
“We have a good plan to achieve a lot on behalf of the folks in the Florida Keys,” DeSantis said.
The complete “live” briefing is on the Monroe County BOCC Facebook page, www.fb.com/monroecountyflbocc. More pictures from his visit are at www.flickr.com/monroecountybocc.