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Monroe County Leaders Bring Lionfish, Rum Punch And Affordable Housing Concerns To State Legislature

Hundreds of people enjoyed food, drinks and music from the Florida Keys at the state Capitol on Tuesday evening, the culmination of an annual lobbying trip that Monroe County elected officials and business owners use to share local priorities with state lawmakers.

City mayors, school board members, community college administrators and restauranteurs told legislators throughout the day about their biggest concern: affordable housing.

"It's paradise, and people want to live in paradise, so the price of houses are just going up and up and up," said Islamorada vice mayor Mike Forster, "which is really squeezing out the middle and lower class."

Forster is also the owner of the restaurant Mangrove Mike's. He served up local rum punch at the event — 50 gallons of it. 

Every year, he said, the event attendees drink it all.

Jessica Bakeman