A Race to Watch

Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez (Democrat) running for the redrawn Florida Senate District 37 wrote to us. We contacted the office of the incumbent Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (Republican) but there has been no reply.

This is a battleground district with approximately 86,000 registered Democrats, 81,000 Republicans and 71,000 Independents.

The incumbent, three term Senator is a fiscal conservative that has taken independent positions. During the last session, he single-handedly killed “campus carry” bill favored by the NRA — His record otherwise supports NRA causes.

Rep. Rodriguez, a vocal critic of for-profit colleges believes the State has to do more to improve public education. His defense of the environment has taken him to be a vocal critic of Florida Power and Light.

Rep. Rodriguez wrote:

By voting Jose Javier Rodriguez, voters can expect me to continue working hard every day for our communities. For 4 years I’ve had the honor of representing much of the Cities of Miami and Coral Gables as well as the Village of Key Biscayne in the State House. In that time I stayed close to residents, working on issues in the district; labored hard to successfully advance policy in Tallahassee benefiting us; and battled powerful interests to protect us from bad policy.

Properly providing for education is the Legislature’s constitutional duty. Funds for public education are, however, routinely diverted. That’s why as ranking Democrat on the Finance & Tax Committee, I fought stubbornly for four years to change funding formulas. This year we won progress with $428 million extra for local schools (reallocated away from wasteful projects). Florida’s teachers (FEA) have endorsed me because of my record in battling under-funding and over-testing in our schools.

For my work on a range of environmental issues, I also have the endorsement of the Sierra Club. I have been one of the strongest and most outspoken advocates in protecting our water supply, Biscayne Bay and the Everglades National Park. On clean energy and consumer issues, I have battled our utilities and have been strongly advocating against the misleading, utility-backed so-called “Smart Solar” amendment. Finally, I helped convene a small bipartisan group of state legislators addressing climate change issues and hope to continue that work.

The best thing Florida can do to further economic development, diversify our economic base and grow the number of good jobs is to focus on building a strong education system and healthy infrastructure. That’s why as the Vice-Chair of the Miami-Dade Legislative Delegation, I have advocated for and had success in helping the delegation begin to work towards long-term strategic goals for our community especially in education, transportation and healthcare funding.

Finally, on the topic of homelessness I support innovative local programs tried at the local level and advocate greater funding for those that work. Substance abuse accounts for the chronic homelessness of many of our neighbors. That’s why I’ve also supported legislation that helps our criminal justice and public health systems better address addiction-related issues.

Giving someone your vote is not something you take lightly. If you vote for me, know that public service is something I take very seriously.

Jose Javier Rodriguez, (305) 854-0365, @JoseJavierJJR