facebook_pixel

Mary Barzee Flores

District 25

https://marybarzeeflores.com/

Attorney

Former Circuit Court judge, former public defender

Mary Barzee Flores is an attorney looking to unseat Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, one of the longest-serving politicians in Florida in the race for U.S. Congress District 25.

She’s previously served as a public defender and circuit court judge, and was on the verge of being appointed as a federal judge until her nomination was blocked by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in 2016.

Barzee Flores stepped into the District 25 race earlier this year, ditching the crowded field of candidates running for outgoing Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s seat in District 27.

Based on the questions you had for the candidates, and factoring in some relevant topics, we sent questionnaires to the candidates and asked them questions about the following issues: the environment, criminal justice reform, gun control, the economy, healthcare, Puerto Rico, and immigration.

Note: Some responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

How do you think the state should address the growing algae blooms along the coasts?

There maybe no greater resource our state has than it’s water. To address this environmental disaster the state must take aggressive action, enacting policies that will tackle the danger facing our water head-on. Regulators must use science and reason, not politics, to address all sources of pollution and other threats to our water systems.

Where do you stand on Everglades restoration and how do you plan to improve water quality across the state?

I support it. We must invest the necessary resources to finally complete the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).

Do you believe in man-made climate change and sea level rise? (yes/no)

Yes

How do you plan to mitigate the effects of climate change and build Florida’s resiliency?

South Florida is ground zero for climate change, and we must lead the way in combating it. We are already seeing the effects of stronger storms and increased flooding. By 2100, South Florida will be underwater – we cannot wait for action. As of January 2018, the Trump Administration has already overturned 33 environmental protections implemented under the Obama Administration, including green-lighting the dangerous and disrespectful Dakota Access Pipeline. We must start divesting from fossil fuels and invest in green energy. America needs to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and show global leadership in innovating for a sustainable future that incentivizes jobs in renewable energy. America cannot afford an EPA that does not protect the environment against those who seek to exploit nature and local economies through destructive drilling, fracking, and pipeline construction practices.

What’s your response to calls for ending the use of private prisons?

Together, we must stop this injustice by ending unjust programs that promote racial disparities, poverty, and prejudice. I will fight tooth and nail to end the war on drugs, cash bail, private prisons, and mandatory minimums.

What does effective gun reform look like to you? Do you think the reforms passed at the state or federal level in the wake of Parkland are sufficient?

I am 100% committed to taking on the NRA and enacting policies to end our country’s epidemic of senseless gun violence that for too long has left our most vulnerable communities to suffer in silence. Florida does not require background checks for private sales, and it is not alone in allowing this massive and deadly loophole to persist. 33 states have taken no action to close this so-called “gun show” loophole. Common sense gun reform is necessary to ensure the safety of our kids and our communities. Weapons of war have no place in our classrooms, neighborhoods, or public spaces. But we’ve been stuck with inaction and death because the NRA has billions of dollars – they’ve bought and paid for a Congress that will advance their agenda and their profit margins upon command. The NRA won’t be able to buy me and I’ll make sure that Congress listens to the American people and mandates universal background checks, closes dangerous loopholes, and reinstates the federal assault weapons ban.

What plans do you have to boost Florida’s economy and encourage smart job creation?

Raise the minimum wage to a living wage, at least $15/ hr. Pass tax reform for middle and working class families, not billionaires and giant corporations. Fully fund public pre-k through 12 education and expand job training and apprenticeship programs. Invest now in the economies of the future, things like wind and solar energy that has the potential to create millions of new jobs across the country.

What does an effective healthcare system look like to you?

Healthcare is a human right and thus should be truly universal and affordable for all. That’s good for families, it’s good for public health, it’s good for small businesses, and it’s most efficient for all of us. (We have subsidized healthcare for low-income folks and seniors for decades.) But we’ve been having a hard time making this patchwork system of ours work smoothly without people falling through the cracks. The good news is, we have a health insurance system that works. It’s called Medicare. But right now only our seniors are allowed in. In the longer term, the even more efficient option is to provide everyone basic health benefits through Medicare, just make it an American birthright. Now if our government is paying all of those bills, that’s a big number. But the research seems to suggest — even research funded by the Koch brothers — that the bill would be smaller overall than when all of us are paying insurance companies directly ourselves.

How much support should the federal government offer to Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria?

Our Government has a responsibility to help Puerto Rico and displaced Puerto Ricans because, while not an official state, are just as much a part of our country as any state. We must step up to the plate and provide Puerto Rico and it’s people whatever they need to rebuild and prosper.

What does effective immigration reform look like to you?

The immigrant dream IS the American Dream: if you work hard, and play by the rules, there are no limits on what you can accomplish here. So when I see that Donald Trump and the Republicans are trying to make it impossible to play by the rules by having families wait in unending, impossibly expensive immigration limbo and criminalizing Black and brown bodies not only at the border, but all throughout our nation, it makes me furious. When I get to DC, I will channel that fury into change and fight for permanent protection and dignity for all 11 million undocumented immigrants by paving their way to a realistic path to citizenship. We must also support TPS recipients by allowing them to choose their own journey, whether that be resettling back home, or here in the US, their new home. My husband’s family moved from Mexico to the Midwest in the 1950s, drawn by good-paying jobs in the steel mills and auto industry—jobs where hard work meant a good wage, good benefits, and the ability to create a good life for your family.

Do you support the presence of sanctuary cities?

Yes. On this issue, like so many other, politicians in Washington for too long have decided to play politics in order to fire up their base rather than put in the work necessary to protect some of the most vulnerable in among us. As a former judge, I understand where law enforcement is on this. When they don’t have sanctuary policies, they say it hinders investigations and crimes go unreported. When they do have sanctuary policies, they can’t call in the Feds when that would be helpful. This is an issue that uniquely affects our community, but it starts in Washington. We need comprehensive immigration reform that protects our borders and gives long-time community members who play by the rules and pay taxes a path to citizenship.

Do you support calls to abolish ICE?

We need federal officials to focus on violent criminals and drug gangs to keep our communities safe. That is supposed to be ICE’s job. Instead, we read headline after headline about ICE agents breaking up families that have been living here peacefully for years – taking a husband from his wife on their way to the hospital to have a baby, grabbing a father dropping his son off at school. But let’s be clear: those misplaced priorities are not the fault of your average ICE agent (who just reports to work every day like anybody else). The problem comes from the top, from this administration, which has a deliberate strategy of being cruel to immigrants to create controversy and divide average Americans against each other. And of course, if Congress wasn’t completely broken, we would have passed comprehensive immigration reform years ago, and these families would have legal status.

What action do you think the government should take on DACA?

We must end DREAMer’s uncertainty by immediately reinstating DACA until they, too, can secure citizenship in the only place they’ve called home–the US.