Candidates for Florida State Representative campaign at Coral Gables Library, stress importance of down-ballot voting

Supporters of candidates Daisy Baez and John Couriel encourage voters to elect their candidate to represent Florida State district 114. Marcus Lim // Assistant News Editor
Supporters of candidates Daisy Baez and John Couriel encourage voters to elect their candidate to represent Florida State district 114. Marcus Lim // Assistant News Editor

Living in the shadow of the widely-talked about presidential race, candidates for Florida State Representative appeared at the Coral Gables Library to promote themselves and secure much-needed votes on the last day of elections.

Candidates Daisy Baez and John Couriel are running against each other for state representative of Florida House District 114. Making a presence known at the voting location, Baez, Couriel and their supporters hoped to convince voters that they should not only focus on the presidential election but on items down the ballot that impact local politics.

“People are paying a lot of attention to the national races and not enough to local races, and the local races really impact your day-to-day life,” Baez said. “They are the people making decisions that will have an impact on your children and family.

Baez, a U.S. Army veteran, was actively involved in the healthcare industry and acted as a community activist. She said she hopes, if elected, to advance economic development that preserves the heritage of the community, address women’s rights and work to fund and reform education.

“There are many things that state representatives can do to help, which also includes transit and infrastructure or voting access, important things for the local community,” Baez said. “Hopefully we spend more time educating people on the importance on local elections.”

District 114 is made up of areas from West Miami and South Miami, including Coral Gables, and extends to Cutler Bay. The elected representative will serve a two-year term and can serve no more than four consecutive terms.

Couriel, a former federal prosecutor, boasts a strong resume of prosecuting health care fraud, human trafficking felons and violent crimes. He spoke about the direct impact local government have, making it important for voters to choose their state representative.

“State representatives do more to impact people’s day-to-day lives than the president does, things like quality of our school, the taxes we pay on our real-estate, the roads or our environment,” he said. “It is important people inform themselves on who their state representatives are, who their state senators are and go vote, participate in the process of selecting us and holding us accountable for the choices we make.”

Miami resident Christopher Felton said he was voting for Couriel, who Felton called “hardworking.” He said it is important for voters to know what they are voting on beyond that race at the top between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

“You have to look at politics as a whole, you can’t just look at the top of the ticket, there is a lot more that is happening than Hillary or Trump,” Felton said. 

Couriel said his priority as representative would be to implement judicial and criminal law reform, and workforce development. He said he would do more to invest in vocational and technical training programs, not just for young people, but for mid-career people to give them more skills.

The Coral Gables Library was quiet, with voters trickling in the morning. There were more campaigners and canvassers than there were voters, yet the candidates stressed the importance of reaching as many voters as they could.

“I was here through the early voting process and saw tens of thousands of votes be cast, now I want to see those who have not yet voted,” Couriel said.