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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.