WITH A LOT IN COMMON, THE DETAILS DISTINGUISH FERNANDEZ, RODRIGUEZ

As Senator Anitere Flores terms out, Florida Keys voters are tasked with electing a new state senator to represent the Florida Keys. Democrat Javier Fernandez and Republican Ana Maria Rodriguez are vying for the position. 

Who are they? Both are Miami-born and -raised. Both have served a two-year term as a state representative in Tallahassee — she in District 105, and he in District 114. (Fernandez was appointed to the position by Gov. Rick Scott, then elected.) Both are married to doctors. Both have two children.

Rodriguez is the child of Cuban immigrants. She received a bachelor’s in communications from Florida International University and a master’s in leadership from Nova Southeastern University. Before her term in Tallahassee, Rodriguez served on the Doral City Council for eight years. She currently works with the Miami Association of Realtors, and previously had a position in the Baptist Health South Florida network. 

Her website lists a special section for her Keys platform: affordable housing, safety (law and order), the environment (coral reefs) and addressing tourism and traffic. 

Fernandez is one of four children, raised by a single mother who worked as a teacher. He graduated high school in Miami and attended Colby College in Maine. Later, he would get a law degree from University of Miami. His career experience includes work as an attorney, and as chief of staff for the mayor of Miami.

In October, Fernandez resigned his position in the house to concentrate on his run for the senate seat. He also moved to Tavernier in October. 

According to Fernandez’s website, the hot topics are growing the economy and fighting climate change.

The Keys Weekly posed the following questions to the candidates to answer in 100 words of less (answers are as submitted):

1. If elected, as a freshman representative in the state senate, how do you intend to maximize your presence in Tallahassee to best serve your constituents?

2. Both you and your opponent live on the mainland, and less than half of District 120’s constituents live in the Florida Keys. What steps will you take to make sure your Keys constituents are heard and their concerns addressed?

JAVIER FERNANDEZ
Democrat
Age: 44
Current job: attorney

1. In the Florida House, I have proven myself as a principled public servant with the ability to get things done who is willing to put people over politics. One example of the difference between myself and the opponent is our votes on the sunscreen ban pre-emption bill. I sided with the people of the Florida Keys and Key West in voting for local control, while my opponent sided with outside special interests. I am endorsed by Teachers, Firefighters, Police officers, and the Everglades Trust. Now, I humbly ask for your endorsement and your vote on or before November 3rd. 

2. I was born and raised in South Florida. I am also the only candidate for State Senate who lives in the district and the only candidate who lives in the Florida Keys. I have always maintained an open-door policy and look forward to representing all the residents of the Florida Keys on the issues that matter to us.


1. If elected, as a freshman representative in the state senate, how do you intend to maximize your presence in Tallahassee to best serve your constituents?

2. Both you and your opponent live on the mainland, and less than half of District 120’s constituents live in the Florida Keys. What steps will you take to make sure your Keys constituents are heard and their concerns addressed?

ANA MARIA RODRIGUEZ
Republican
Age: 43
Current job: legislator, VP at Miami Association of Realtors

1.  I will be well positioned to make an outsized impact for the Keys — far greater than my opponent — for several reasons: I will be a member of the majority party, I have strong relationships with the Senate leadership, a demonstrated track record of successfully working across the aisle to move legislation, and maintain deep ties to my colleagues across the rotunda in the House. All of these strengths will allow me to quickly advance policy and projects that are important to the Keys such as fully funding the Florida Keys Stewardship Act and ensuring the monies in the Sadowski Trust Fund are used for their intended purpose.  

2.  As the State Senator for the Keys, I will ensure Keys residents’ views are represented by being present in the community just as I have been during the campaign. I have attended dozens of events in the Keys in the past few months alone – my  opponent is nowhere to be found. That won’t change as your State Senator. The Florida Keys are a uniquely special place and its residents deserve a State Senator who best understands their needs. I will be present and accessible to Keys residents and that will ensure I am able to effectively represent their interests. 

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