Roberto “Robbie” Alonso has taken the first steps toward emulating his grandfather’s career in public service.
Roberto Alonso Sr. was the first vice mayor for the Town of Miami Lakes and served on the council from 2001 to 2008.
The elder Alonso always made sure to travel to the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee during the annual legislative session to lobby state officials for money for town projects.
His grandson Robbie Alonso, 13, recently participated in the Florida House of Representatives’ Page and Messenger Program.
“It was a great experience working with the state representatives and senators,” Robbie said. “I got to see and do a lot of great things. They taught us a lot about how state government works.”
Robbie is in 7th grade at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami.
He spent four days in April during spring break, volunteering for state representatives and senators in Tallahassee.
Robbie’s service trip was a family project: He was accompanied by his father, Realtor Roberto Alonso and mother, business owner Alexandra Alonso and his brother Oliver, 10.
The family lives in Miami Lakes.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the family drove their RV to Tallahassee and stayed at a motor home resort.
Fla. Rep. Alex Rizo, R-110, whose district includes Miami Lakes and Country Club of Miami, nominated Robbie for the Page and Messenger program.
Rizo said it was a pleasure to sponsor Robbie for the program and said he has a bright future.
“I have known him for a few years, and I’ve seen his growth as a student and as a young man who’s interested in helping out his community,” Rizo said.
The teen was prominent among the student volunteers, the first-term legislator said.
“When we [representatives and senators] spoke
to Robbie’s class of pages and messengers, what stood apart in my eyes was he took on a leadership role,” Rizo said.
Rizo also was impressed with Robbie’s level of maturity during his visit.
“When we asked him questions like where he came from and his interests, I knew he has a future in politics, but more along the lines of public service,” he said.
As part of his duties, Robbie said he brought documents to lawmakers to help them prepare for hearings.
He also sponsored two mock bills: One to increase funding to buy athletic equipment for high schools because, he said, some schools don’t have enough gear for athletes.
The second mock bill was to schedule road construction at night, to avoid traffic congestion during daylight hours.
His extra-curricular activities helped to prepare him for debates at the Capitol. Robbie is chair of the Student Council and
a member of his school’s speech and debate club.
“It was pretty cool that he came up with the two mock bills by himself,” said Roberto Alonso, who serves on the Miami-Dade County Planning Advisory Board. “He loved every minute he was there.
“From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., he was involved in his duties and as a parent, it’s humbling to see him take on the initiatives,” he said. Robbie said the experience sealed his decision to run for political office someday, and to be like his grandfather.
While on the town council, Roberto Alonso Sr. championed efforts to turn a tot lot into the greenspace and recreation facility that became Royal Oaks Park, at 16500 N.W. 87th Ave.
The 2014 dedication of the community center at the park drew more than 200 people to see it named for the late vice mayor.
The year before, Alonso Sr., 63, had died from cancer.
In addition to being a councilman, Alonso Sr. was a commercial real estate agent.
He discovered a vacant parcel on Miami Lakes Drive at Northwest 77th Court, which belonged to the Florida Department of Transportation.
For years, the county had sought to find a place for a fire station in the northwest section to improve emergency response times. It built Fire Rescue Station 64 on the property Alonso Sr. found, and a plaque inside the firehouse salutes him.
Roberto Alonso said
his father’s activities in the community went beyond politics and included raising funds to help build Santa Barbara Catholic Church in Hialeah Gardens.
Rizo said Robbie’s role model left big footprints in town.
“Maybe years from now, I’ll see [Robbie] on the Miami Lakes town council,” Rizo said. “His future needs to be written by himself. He’s in control of his future.”