District 103 candidates know Miami Lakes

Government By David Snelling, Reporter Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Two Republican candidates with ties to Miami Lakes hope to be the one to challenge incumbent Fla. Rep. Cindy Polo, D-Miramar, who represents District 103 and was unopposed in the current race.
Seeking to run against Polo are attorney Thomas Fabricio, 43, of Miramar, and Miami Lakes Vice Mayor Nelson Rodriguez, 51.
District 103 includes parts of Doral, Medley; Hialeah Gardens; Miami Lakes; Palm Springs North and Miramar.
Early voting began Aug. 3 for the Aug. 18 Primary Election.
There were some surprising endorsements on the GOP side of the race.
Rodriguez’s ex-colleague on the town dais, former Councilman Frank Mingo, endorsed Fabricio, as did Fla. Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr. and former Fla. Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.
Mingo vacated his town council seat early in 2018 and unsuccessfully ran against Polo.
Fabricio said Diaz’s endorsement was a big boost to his campaign.
“I am beyond honored to be endorsed by Senator Manny Diaz in my race for Florida House of Representatives,” Fabricio said.
Rodriguez, a Coral Gables firefighter-paramedic who’s recovered from COVID-19, was endorsed by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
He also announced endorsements by the Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police, the city of Coral Gables; the Fraternal Order of Police District 6 which represents Miami-Dade Public Schools Police; Hialeah Police and Miami Police.
The newspaper’s editorial board chose Rodriguez for “his deeper community service and expertise in public safety” and having “a willingness to address some gun safety issues.”
Rodriguez told the Sun Sentinel he favors requiring background checks on gun buyers and a three-day wait on private sales.
Rodriguez told the newspaper he holds a concealed weapons license and would have voted against a 2019 bill that allowed teachers to be armed in class, something Fabricio supported.
“Both men have refreshingly avoided attacking each other, and both would be problem-solvers in Tallahassee,” the publication said July 8. “They are workhorses, not show horses.”
Rodriguez said GOP endorsements for Fabricio caught him by surprise.
“Senator Diaz personally told me months ago that it would be wrong of him and the Republican Party to endorse a candidate prior to the primary election,”
Rodriguez told The Miami Laker. “It is unfortunate that Senator Diaz and former Councilmember Mingo have decide to endorse my primary opponent.”
Mingo and Diaz could not be reached for comment.
Another endorsement was startling.
In March, the South Florida Council of Firefighters endorsed Polo.
The council picked Polo over Rodriguez because she supported a bill which allows firefighters diagnosed with cancer to receive disability and death benefits.
Rodriguez, who’s serving his second four-year term and is term-limited this year, said he has support among those in the fire service.
“Although I have received many calls from firefighters that are disappointed with the council for not endorsing one of their own brother firefighters, they have given me their personal support for my candidacy,” he said.
The Coral Gables Professional Firefighters Association endorsed him, according to the Florida Department of Elections.
Polo, 42, was born in Rhode Island. Her parents, who were born in Colombia, moved the family to Hialeah when Polo was a toddler.
She graduated from Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School in 1995 and earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Florida International University, where she also obtained a master’s degree in business administration.
The 2018 high school shooting massacre in Parkland prompted her to run for political office.
She pushed for a special session to discuss gun control laws but didn’t receive enough votes in the house for it to proceed.
Polo said it has been an uphill battle to get compensation for owners of homes damaged by blasting but that she will continue to sponsor legislation to allow them to sue mining companies.
She said a recent study blamed homeowners for property damage.
“They said the homeowners slammed their doors too hard,” Polo said. “That’s a slap in the face.”
Polo also said she will fight for higher wages for Florida’s working class.
Polo was endorsed by SEIU, the union of health care professionals and public employees, and said the Broward County Council of Professional Firefighters and the South Florida Police Benevolent Association back her, too.
A former communications director for the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, Polo is a stay-at-home parent to her son, CJ, 4.
Rodriguez has served on the town council since 2012, said he has lived in Miami Lakes since 1992 and been in the fire service for nearly 30 years.
He graduated from Monsignor Edward Pace High School and earned his firefighter certification from Miami Dade College.
Rodriguez said his campaign focuses on solutions to the effects of blasting; traffic gridlock in the district; education funding for public schools and affordable homeowners’ insurance for senior citizens.
“As a homeowner affected by the blasting, I can personally relate to the constituents’ problems because my pool and pool deck have cracks,” he said.
Rodriguez is married with three children.
Fabricio, a former Miami Lakes resident who attended Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High, said he graduated from Coral Gables High School.
He said he earned bachelor’s degrees in English
literature and political science from Marymount Manhattan College in New York.
He obtained his law degree from Nova Southeastern University and practices insurance law at a Fort Lauderdale firm.
“If someone slips and falls in your house, the homeowner’s insurance company hires me to defend you in the civil case,” Fabricio said.
If elected, Fabricio said he will work on tax relief for senior citizens.
Fabricio is married and has two small children.
As of July 31, Polo had raised the most campaign contributions: $65,857, followed by Fabricio with $53,568 and Rodriguez who had $32,452.

Photos courtesy of the
candidates’ campaigns.

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