Special Election

State Representative, District 114 Voter Guide

On November 1, 2017, Florida State Representative Daisy Baez resigned, prompting Governor Rick Scott to call a special election for the vacant seat. Members of the Florida House of Representatives serve two-year terms with term limits.

Early Voting for Special Election for Florida State Representative District 114 runs April 21-29, Monday-Friday - 8:00am-6:00pm, Saturday and Sunday - 8:00am-4:00pm at the following locations:

  • Coral Gables Branch Library
    3443 Segovia Street
    Coral Gables, FL 33134
  • Pinecrest Branch Library
    5835 sw 111th Street
    Pinecrest, FL 33156
  • South Dade Regional Library
    10750 SW 211th Street
    Cutler Bay, FL 33189
  • West Flagler Branch Library
    5050 W Flagler Street
    Miami, FL 33134

The Special Election for Florida State Representative District 114 is on May 1, 2018. Polls are open from 7:00am-7:00pm. Find your local polling station here

 
 

ANDREW VARGAS

  • Why are you running for office and what qualities, training, experience and skills do you bring to this position?

The candidate did not respond to request for information.

  • What are the 3 most important issues facing your community? For each concern, how do you propose to mitigate/improve/resolve the issue?

The candidate did not respond to request for information.

 
Javier_Fernandez_HD_114

JAVIER FERNANDEZ

  • Why are you running for office and what qualities, training, experience and skills do you bring to this position?

My siblings and I were raised by a single mother and Miami-Dade County public school teacher of 42 years.  Like many other working families today, she would not be able to what she did, supporting a family of five, as a teacher today.  I am running to be a voice for working parents like my mother, who work hard to live and raise a family, but which are being left behind due to state policies that exacerbate inequality by failing to adequately invest public education, provide quality, affordable housing, and support the development of reliable mass transportation. 

The issues I have prioritized in this campaign are not issues that are new to me:  I have spent the better part of my career working to address issues related to housing, transit and educational access.  My experience and knowledge regarding these issues is born of my work as staff in the non-profit sector, chief of staff to a local mayor, and as an attorney and volunteer.  The sum of these experiences has not only refined my understanding of the issues, but also helped make me a better listener, student of the process, and advocate.  If afforded the opportunity to serve our community, I believe that I will be a forceful advocate for our district in Tallahassee that will seek to opportunistically work with members of both parties to address the above priorities and many more impacting working families. 

  • What are the 3 most important issues facing your community? For each concern, how do you propose to mitigate/improve/resolve the issue?

Our community faces many challenges born of our state's failure to invest in key areas that burden or limit the opportunities of working families.  Chief among the challenges that our community faces are a crisis in the following areas:  (i) education; (ii) transportation; and (iii) gun regulation.  In the area of education, Florida is the 2nd worst state in the union in education funding with our annual contributions down an incredible 22% since 2008 when adjusted for inflation.  Teacher pay is down $5,000 annually when compared to wages in 1980 adjusted for inflation which has created a huge teacher retention crisis in this state.  The combination of both of these facts, when further coupled with our state legislature's penchant to underwrite charter schools and vouchers, has had significant adverse impacts on our children, particularly those from households of modest means.  In order to mitigate against these ill effects, we need to:  (i) ensure that the base student allocation is, at a minimum, adjusted to account for the impact of inflation annually; (ii) increase the base student allocation to a level consistent with 2008 funding levels; and (iii) increase base teacher pay and benefits to help mitigate the retention crisis which are have a destabilizing effect within our classrooms.

In the area of transportation, our state and county have for decades neglected continued investment in the maintenance and expansion of our existing systems.  This lack of investment has resulted in ridership reductions in recent years born of the lack of system reliability and exacerbated by our failure to adopt complimentary land use policies which support ridership.  The failed policies of elected officials at the state and local levels have exacerbated commute times and required residents to drive further to and from work in order to find affordable housing at a tremendous cost to both household budgets, quality of life and the quality of our environment.  In order to mitigate these effects, we need to:  (i) develop a state-sanctioned framework that allows us to capture tax increment along newly formed mass transit corridors to help fund both the capital construction and operation and maintenance of such lines; (ii) require that state investment in mass transit be conditioned upon the adoption of minimum density standards that compliment and support ridership; and (iii) direct such future public infrastructure investment into areas that are least susceptible to climate change. 

Finally, in the area of housing, our legislature has exacerbated the current crisis by failing to fully appropriate resources levied in service of creating more affordable and workforce housing stock and instead diverting those resources to reduce taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Floridians.  The result is that our community contributes surtax to the state while more than 250,000 households are cost-burdened and less than 3,000 new units of affordable/workforce housing is produced annually to meet the demand.  To mitigate the current crisis, I will work with other members of the House - Democrats and Republicans alike - ensure that the full scope of resources is appropriated for its stated purpose and that South Florida gets its fair share of such resources.  In the alternative, I will seek to eliminate the levy and the attendant burden on our local real estate sector. 

 
Liz de las Cuevas HD 114

LIZ DE LAS CUEVAS

  • Why are you running for office and what qualities, training, experience and skills do you bring to this position?

Miami-Dade County and District 114 have been my home since the early 70’s. I have been married for 25 years to a wonderful and supportive husband and I have 2 adult children who attend Florida State University in Tallahassee.

Over the course of 15 years I have prepared myself for the opportunity to represent my community, union members, and district 114 in the Florida Legislature. As an expert in my field, I am confident that my current educational level, past professional experience and extensive understanding of organizational leadership will allow me the basic fundamental principles necessary to understand the challenges minority working classes endure when under represented.

Our community has not received the necessary solutions it requires in order to properly address the problems that continue to plague us.  From providing a world class education for all our children to fostering an environment for strong economic growth that creates opportunity and quality jobs for everyone; alleviating traffic congestion on our roads, including reforming our toll system; to addressing the needs of our community's most vulnerable residents.

Unfortunately, our former state representative failed us and violated the people's trust. Our community deserves better representation. It is my intention to bring my many years of public and private sector experience to restore the public’s trust in their elected officials and become the strong voice our community needs in Tallahassee.

I was raised in a family and community with strong moral and ethical values. As a mother, educator and professional I will always represent the people not the party. I have over 35 years of professional experience in the field of finance and education.

I earned my Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from the Fischler School of Education; my Master’s degree in Business Administration from the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business; and my Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Sciences.  All attained at Nova Southeastern University.

Over the past several years I have been privileged to serve on numerous community boards where I have contributed to the development and improvement of societal concerns and the overall improvement of educational policy, content and curriculum.

Although I am very satisfied with my personal accomplishments my most valuable contribution has been to my community where I have coached students to stay in school or take an alternative path and graduate with a high school diploma.

  • What are the 3 most important issues facing your community? For each concern, how do you propose to mitigate/improve/resolve the issue?

Education. Funding for public education needs to be one of our highest priorities. Without education we are contributing to generational poverty and illiteracy.

I believe all students in Florida, regardless of geography or socioeconomic backgrounds, should have an equal opportunity for a high quality public education. To achieve this objective, state and local governments must fund education at levels that ensure equity and adequacy. Florida is a diverse state and all districts have varying needs such as heavy populated areas or areas that have increased homeless population. Therefore, it is prudent to provide flexibility in operating funds to meet local and state goals.

Charter schools should play a role in our public education system by offering an alternative to students who are under performing, demonstrate language deficiency or needed additional supports to meet graduation requirements. Although, charter schools could meet the same requirements as traditional public schools there needs to be tighter controls to operate, with mandatory teacher certification, compensation and benefits package, and a mandated minimum cost to operate. We need to implement adequate policies to regulate funding for charter schools and how funds are allocated toward services.

In a recent school board meeting for MDCPS on or about January 2018, it was noted that charter schools continue to under-perform public schools by less than 50% when meeting graduation requirements.

We need to increase teacher salaries to meet national average for entry level teachers, implement steps for years of service, reduce healthcare costs, and increase allocation toward FRS by 3%.

All dedicated tax dollars, special bills, referendums, and any other monies designated for public education should go straight to fund our public education system.  I support the realignment of tax from consumer spending to be applied to public education. I do not support expansion of any program that uses public funds or tax dollars for any form of private use or education.  I do not agree with taxpayers utilizing tax dollars to pay private schools; private education is optional and at the will and expense of that family. Public funds in education is for public schools not private ownership.

If elected, I would fight for the reduction of unnecessary testing that does not justify a student’s academic success nor should it justify a teacher’s incentive especially if she is ESE certified or works with our under-performing students.

Standardized testing is not always a bad word, limited standardized testing is necessary to gage our students’ strengths and weaknesses when meeting academic standards. As educators it is important not to over-do any one area when teaching basic fundamentals. The same is said for too many standardized tests that rob our students of valuable instructional time because we are teaching to the test. In all fairness, we need some form of testing to better understand academic levels and proficiency in learning or teaching.

High-stakes test results are not always bad. Limited testing can provide sufficient results to assist teachers in creating a learning plan based on student's needs—with some added benefits in the long run. Test results can be used as a tool for progress, not as judgment for ability or intelligence, test results provide evidence as to how well, or poorly, a student is performing. Access to this information will prove helpful to make more informed decisions about where and how a student can access their education.

I do support a limited amount of test information to be utilized as a tool for school accountability. I do oppose a one size fits all approach when assessing a school grade.

Traffic. It is import that we consider the improvement of our public transportation system such as our current metro-rail that is not serving our communities past Dadeland. We have spent millions of dollars and to no avail, if our metro-rail system actually traveled past Kendall Drive into homestead we could eliminate the everyday congestion, and improve our daily commute. Additionally, we need to re-access and reform our current toll system.    

Development and the Environment. As a long-time resident and educator in our district, I am always concerned with any zone changes that will adversely impact our communities because of high density development, increased traffic and how it will impact the quality of our lives.

Simply stated, when you choose to move south or less populated areas you have made a conscious decision that you want more green areas, less traffic, a well sustained ecosystem together with peaceful quality of life.  Areas such as Cutler Bay and surrounding communities need to be protected from over development and the damaging of our ecosystem. Therefore, only well-planned developments that maintain our communities’ quality of life standard should be considered by our residents and I will always support our residents.    

Rising Sea Levels

Our current drainage system, septic tanks, wells and seawalls are no longer enough to protect our residents from flooding and the challenges that we will all endure unless we adequately prepare.

One of many suggestions is to continue funding NOAA and the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, and the Sea Grant Programme who brings together 17 different universities to study sea level rise challenges and solutions. Once we have gathered sufficient data we should also consider reviewing Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Programme to receive adequate funding together with tailored guidance on how to improve our cities and protect us from sea-level rise.

As overwhelming as this problem may seem we need to consider breaking it down into smaller pieces because every area faces a different challenge. If we initiate numerous strategies, they can scaffold and work together to overcome numerous challenges at different stages.

So let’s consider some items such as Flap Gates to keep seawater from coming up through drainage systems, the strengthening of seawalls especially if they are leaking, too short or non-existent, Tidal Valves allowing storm-water through but not saltwater it looks like a big rubber tube and can be attached inside storm drains, and some pump stations in designated areas to ensure our businesses are operational.    

Increase Recycling

Yes, I am a proponent of protecting our environment for the sustainability of future generations. This however requires community involvement for it to have longevity.

Although plastic bags can be convenient, we must consider the harmful impacts to our environment, such as our oceans, rivers, lakes, forests and wildlife that inhabit them. If we all work together to reduce or eliminate the plastic bag use we can all contribute to protecting our communities, ecosystems and relieving pressure on our landfills and waste management.