With current state Rep. Holly Raschein terming out in 2020, candidates are lining up in hopes to represent the Florida Keys and south Miami-Dade in Tallahassee. Newest candidate Rhonda Rebman Lopez wants to make the islands a better place to live, work and play.
Rebman Lopez officially filed for state representative in District 120 in September, joining Islamorada councilman Jim Mooney and Homestead lawyer Alexandria Suarez on the Republican side. A primary is scheduled for Aug. 18, 2020.
“The reception has been amazing and people have been so supportive,” Rebman Lopez said in a recent interview with the Weekly. “People who I don’t even know in the Keys have called and spoke to me about the office.”
Born in Florence, Alabama, Rebman Lopez moved to South Florida with her family 30 years ago. She now lives in North Key Largo with her husband, Jorge, sons, Benjamin and Noah, and two rescue dogs, Spot and Lola. Today, she serves as president of PECO International Electric, a third-generation family business — an established electrical exporter in the southeast region of the U.S.
Rebman Lopez said her family’s always had property in the Keys while her husband’s family has resided in Sugarloaf Key since 1971. She said her family’s always been active Keys fishermen.
“The Keys is such a unique place as far as the community goes as a whole,” she said. “We all just connect on so many levels as far as wanting the best for our God-given environment. There’s nowhere else on Earth that you’ll find a natural, beautiful habitat.”
Rebman Lopez has begun to make her rounds since joining the race. Just last weekend, she stopped by the Conch Scramble charity golf tournament to witness dressed-up participants play a little golf on the water. The next day, she made an appearance at the 20th annual Take Stock in Children Backcountry Challenge at the Elks in Tavernier.
“I enjoy the diversity of the Keys and I really enjoy talking one-on-one on the priorities in keeping the Keys wonderful,” Rebman Lopez said.
For the past 25 years, Rebman Lopez has dedicated her time to helping nonprofits like the American Cancer Society. Here in the Keys, she’s supported organizations such as the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary and the Florida Wildlife Society.
One of Rebman Lopez’s reasons for running is supporting local taxpayers by continuing to secure state funding for programming, water quality projects and the emergency center operations, to name a few. She also wants to work for the district’s small businesses.
“I know firsthand how important they are to our local economy and how burdensome regulations and unnecessary taxes can negatively affect a small business’ ability to survive and create jobs,” she said.
Top priorities include workforce housing, the environment and growth control. Traffic safety is also of concern, specifically over Card Sound Road and the serious and fatal crashes.
“I want to advocate better safety measures for our traffic and safety from Card Sound, as well as the Stretch and U.S. 1 in the Keys,” she said. “There have been way too many accidents and fatalities.”
“As for growth control, we want to keep the Keys unique,” she continued. “What’s unique about it is the fact it’s not overbuilt and it’s not metropolitan.”
The wife of a retired Naval fighter pilot and a mother to two young men, Rebman Lopez says she wants local families to feel protected in their neighborhoods and schools. She also wants to ensure first responders have the resources they need to provide the best care.
Overall, Rebman Lopez says she wants to continue the great work Raschein has done for the community.
“She’s worked tirelessly and has brought a lot of money back. As a fellow female, I’m proud of the work Holly’s done in Tallahassee for the environment and Keys issues,” she said.”
More information is at voterebmanlopez.com.