The University of Miami College Democrats (UMCD) hosted a political forum between State Representative Annie Betancourt and award-winning Spanish TV journalist Lorna Virgili last Friday in the University Center Ballrooms, just days before the two faced off in today’s Democratic primary in the hope of winning the newly-created House of Representatives seat of Florida’s 25th U.S. Congressional District.
The two candidates are hoping to beat out South Florida Republican stalwart Mario Diaz-Balart.
Over 65 University of Miami students attended the meeting. UMCD President Christian G. Wilson moderated the forum between the two candidates. Questions ranged from domestic issues such as proposed economic development for District 25’s impoverished areas to international issues such as the need for peace in the Middle East.
Education and economic development were at the forefront of both of the candidate’s important campaign issues. While Betancourt often cited her political experience, Virgili continually emphasized that she would bring new energy to Congress as a political novice.
“It was reassuring to know that two women with so much political drive are competing for the district seat,” said Jacqueline Koch, a sophomore majoring in English Literature. “They both seem eager to transform the Florida education crises and well-equipped to deal with international affairs. Florida needs a new voice, and it will find a powerful one in these women.”
Both candidates failed to mention the environment even once during the forum-a startling fact for hopeful representatives of a district whose gerrymandered boundaries spans West Hialeah to Homestead and even to Naples and covers wide tracts of the Everglades.
Betancourt has served as a Florida State Representative for South Florida’s District 116 for eight years, having been re-elected every two years since 1994 by a large percent. Her campaign to be a congresswoman is being sponsored by Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth and State Senator Kendrick Meek.
Virgili started as a political reporter for Spanish TV station Telemundo in 1992.
In 1999 she was chosen as the Washington Correspondent for Univision’s 31 network affiliates and 500 markets throughout the United States. It was through her position as a national political correspondent that Virgli worked closely with members of Congress and was inspired to run for the House.