Collazo, Rizo compete for Oliva’s District 110 seat

Government By David Snelling, Reporter Wednesday, September 30, 2020

      A Republican and a Democrat who both live in Hialeah are trying to win a seat for the Florida House in November.

     Alex Rizo, vice chair of Country Club of Miami Community Council and elementary school teacher Annette Collazo are competing for the District 110 seat.

     The winner in the race will replace Speaker of the House Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, who is term-limited.

     Both candidates won their party’s primary election because they didn’t draw any opponents.

     George Garzia, a Republican from Hialeah and Miramar Democrat Diana M. Ahmed failed to qualify for the race, according to the Florida Department of Elections.

     District 110 is a vertical rectangle-shaped district which includes Hialeah, Miami Lakes and Country Club and ends at the Broward County border.

     Rizo, 52, leads in fundraising with $104,276, while Collazo, 36, has raised $100,255, according to the Florida Department of Elections.

     Rizo said he has served on the community council since 2015.

     Miami-Dade Community Councils make decisions on zoning projects for unincorporated areas.

    Rizo said he has lived in the district since he was 10 years old and knows it well.

    “I grew up here, went to school here, live here and my business is here,” he said. “I know a lot of the needs for this part of

Miami-Dade County.”

    Better education, lowering health care expenses for the elderly and stopping tax and hidden fee increases in the state’s budget are the issues Rizo said he wants to champion in Tallahassee.

     “The costs of healthcare are crippling,” he said. “I would like to bring the costs down, especially for elderly people.”

     Rizo said he has big shoes to fill if he wins the election.

     “Mr. Oliva did an exceptional job,” he said. “I hope to follow that up.”

     Rizo, who owns an education consulting firm, said he earned his bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences in 1995 from Florida International University and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University in 2000.

    Rizo taught at Barbara Goleman High School and served as an assistant principal at Hialeah and Lawton Chiles middle schools and American High School.

    He was principal of a Miami charter school before starting his own company.

     Rizo is divorced and has two adult sons.

    Collazo said she last taught at Miccosukee Indian school in Miami and she resigned to run for office.

     A former Miami Lakes resident, she said she’s campaigning for equal education and funding for public schools.

     Collazo said the state could do more for students and teachers in public schools, but that the focus appeared to be on enhancing charter schools.

     She said charter schools, which are public schools that may be managed by private entities, are getting taxpayer dollars while traditional public schools sometimes feel left out.

     “I have nothing against charter schools, and they have done great things for students,” Collazo said. “But the state should have proper oversight of all public and charter schools because it’s about taxpayers’ money.”

     Part of her platform is to develop programs for students with autism to help them learn on the same level as other students.

     “As a schoolteacher I identified these issues that affect the community,” she said. “If I can be a leader on these issues, I need to do it.”

     Collazo also said teachers should earn more money because “they have the greatest impact on their students,” she said.

     Her other priorities include expanding Medicaid and getting limestone mining companies to excavate rather than blast.

      Collazo graduated from Barbara Goleman Senior High School and earned her bachelor’s degree in economics from Florida International University, she said.

    She’s currently studying for her master’s degree in educational leadership from that school.

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