by SC Reporter Reese Holiday
Jason Maughan’s roots run farther than Sanibel.
With the first of his family arriving to the island in 1959 from Ireland, Maughan followed his roots out of his home country and eventually became a part of Sanibel. In a completely new terrain, Maughan didn’t know what to expect from the island, but Sanibel made sure to embrace him with open arms.
“The citizens of Sanibel, it could have been one of those things is here’s some Irish kid, we’re going to ignore him,” Maughan said. “But that wasn’t what happened to me. I was looked after by just about everybody on the island.”
As Maughan grew up, he eventually left the island, studying political science at Stetson University. Maughan then broadened his lawyer education by attending Gonzaga University School of Law for the U.S, and then studying European Union law in Ireland so he could practice in Europe.
After school, Maughan had the credentials to practice law in several different countries, but he and his wife chose to come back to Sanibel. He opened his own law firm on Sanibel in 2004, which he said he uses to fight for the rights of those on the island.
“I live on the island, I care about it a great deal, I have a lot of experience in the issues that we deal with,” Maughan said. “I’m proud to have said that I’ve fought for people who may not be my friends or don’t like me. I fight for people’s rights and people who are protected by the law to make sure that their rights are protected.”
Aside from practicing law, Maughan has also had experience on city council. He ran in 2017 and won but had to resign in order to run for a seat with the Florida House of Representatives.
With three months left on his city council term, Maughan thought he would be reappointed to the council after his losing his bid for the house of representatives. Instead, the council decided to do an election for the open seats. Regardless, Maughan’s vision remains the same.
“My vision for the island is to maintain it has a sanctuary island,” Maughan said. “One of the concerns I had is we were spending too much time making Sanibel a destination for tourism. The real reason that people would come here in the first place is because of the community it was.”
Maughan said dealing with COVID-19 on the island remains a priority, but he also said that island’s water quality is of the upmost importance. He added that while it will take more than Sanibel to solve the water quality, the solution can start right on the island.
“What I think is the biggest issue running forward is how we maintain our water quality stance and push for action,” Maughan said. “To maintain that going forward, that’s by having a budget that stays within the parameters of the money we can rise and finding ways that this community itself can plug the budgeting gap at the state level by taking actions here.”
Ever since arriving to Sanibel, the island has treated Maughan well. He said he wants to pay back the Sanibel community that embraced him by continuing to protect their rights and represent their voices.
“I have always truly believed that the citizenry of Sanibel, without exception, are good people who deserve good representation that is not interested in personal success or vendettas but is only interested in serving that community as an honest sounding board and representative,” Maughan said. “That’s really what I want to be.”