Lucía Báez-Geller on how she’d help Floridians in Congress

Image courtesy Lucía Báez-Geller campaign

By Giselle Balido

April 3, 2024

The daughter of immigrants is campaigning to create opportunities for Florida families that can’t afford rent. “They can’t put food on the table. We are absolutely in a crisis here,” Báez-Geller said.

“It’s our fundamental right to have representation that is working for us, the will of the people should always be governing,” says Lucía Báez-Geller, a South Florida Democrat campaigning for Florida’s 27th Congressional District in Miami-Dade.

The daughter of a Colombian mother and a Cuban father, Báez-Geller was the first in her family to go to college. Inspired by the power of education to change lives, she became a teacher in Miami’s public school system and eventually ran for Miami-Dade County School Board District 3, where since 2020, she has worked to improve South Florida’s public schools.

But after witnessing her students and their families face growing economic hardships and diminished opportunities to succeed, Baez-Geller decided to run for Congress to unseat the district’s incumbent, Republican US Rep. María Elvira Salazar.

“I knew that there was something more that I had to do, and I knew that this was the time,” Báez-Geller told Floricua.

We recently sat down with Báez-Geller for an interview. 

Floricua: The Supreme Court just upheld the 15-week abortion ban signed into law by Gov. DeSantis in 2022, which also means that a six-week abortion ban–with exceptions for rape, incest and to protect the life of the woman–signed into law last year will take effect. What are your thoughts?

Báez-Geller: What we see here is this is a very monumental issue. And for me personally, this is extremely important as a woman. As the mother of a daughter, I cannot fathom that she would grow up in a world with less rights than me. And we’re really taking away a woman’s autonomy, our fundamental right to have control over our bodies. And that’s really unfortunate. 

But for this year’s election, we had people from all backgrounds, all ages, that have been fighting to get abortion on the ballot. It’s definitely a step in the right direction that they are letting the people of Florida vote. And so, we have to all get together. We now have the ability to vote on this in November and we absolutely need to make our voices heard.

What would you say motivated you to run for office

I am the daughter of immigrants. I am the daughter of a Colombian mother and a Cuban father that came to this country looking for a better life. My father escaped communism and what I’m seeing now happening, especially Miami-Dade County, is really a rollback of a lot of those freedoms that I saw my parents, you know, sacrifice their family, their life to come here to this country for. That’s on a personal level.

RELATED: Maria Elvira Salazar’s history of opposing abortion rights

But I’m always an educator first. I’ve taught thousands of students over 15 years and every year I have seen my students lose the ability to fulfill the American dream, which I was able to do with effort and hard work. Now, as a school board member, parents are calling me because they lost their jobs, they can’t afford rent, they can’t put food on the table, and that’s what they’re calling their school board member about. 

You mentioned the loss of opportunities to fulfill the American Dream. What do you see as the most pressing issues for Floridians right now?

Right now, it’s all about affordability and the cost of living. We are absolutely in a crisis here. It’s about having more job opportunities and having infrastructure, because there are places in our county where people have to travel at least four hours to get to a job if they’re taking public transportation, and that’s unacceptable. And then there’s an absolute attack on our freedoms right now that so many of us as immigrants came to this country to find, and now they’re being rolled back.

My father left Cuba to escape communism. He passed away, but if he were alive today, he’d be horrified to see what is happening. Because Republicans are taking away our freedoms and our rights. Taking rights away from educators, dictating what people can or cannot read, meddling in my personal life as a woman, as a teacher, as a mother. That is unacceptable. Democrats are not doing any of those things; it’s the Republicans, and people need to be aware of that. 

What do you say about Gov. Ron DeSantis’ culture wars the book bans, the attacks on the LGBTQ community, the bans on teaching African American’s history of slavery?

What I see now is that Republicans are having a field day just creating chaos. They’re not governing, they’re not bringing any solutions. They’re only bringing problems right now. A lot of the advancements that we’ve had in Miami have been in spite of the current representation in Miami. They’ve happened because people from other states, Republicans of other states, have crossed the line to support bipartisan advancements.

RELATED: Video: Lucía Báez-Geller explica por qué se postula contra María Elvira Salazar en Noviembre

But in Miami-Dade that is not true. Our Miami-Dade representation in D.C. is voting against us time after time, and then coming back and taking credit for the money that has passed because other people have shown support for the community. And so, it’s very important that we come out, that we speak up and that we show that we are sick and tired of dishonest politicians that are absolutely ready to play games with our lives. It’s dishonest and it’s treating their constituents as if we don’t know any better. But luckily, we do, and our final word will be in November in our vote.

You have repeatedly said that Rep. María Elvira Salazar, whom you are running against, takes credit for obtaining funding for local projects – like a children’s hospital, the Miami International Airport and small businesses in Miami, among others – despite having voted against funding them. And as you’ve said, she is not alone. What are some of the reasons why these politicians are voting against their constituents’ interests, in your opinion?

Some people like to put their party politics, their self-interest, above the people. That’s why we need people that are willing to protect and to serve the community. Unfortunately, many of our leaders tell us one thing when they’re here and then they go to D.C., and they lose their way. They try to do whatever is going to get them re-elected or make sure that they align with their party. 

I know very well the sacrifices that our constituents in Miami-Dade are making for their families every single day. I know it because I watched my single mother make these sacrifices. I watch the parents of my students make these sacrifices and then we’re working really hard and people over there are working against us every day and, and that’s not acceptable.

‘Local is everything’


Many are unaware of the impact that voting for their local representatives can have, and only go out to vote in the “big” or general elections. How important is it to vote local?

We’re seeing elections being held in municipalities with only 10%, 11% of voter turnout. That is absolutely unacceptable. We live in a democracy, and we have to make sure that we have engaged and informed voters about all the different branches of government. And especially here. 

Local is everything. You have to start at the local level. What are your local leaders doing? But a lot of times it’s a very hard process to get people to understand exactly what is at stake when we elect these leaders. We say all the time that elections have consequences. And I think we absolutely need to explain that to people, that this is what happens when you vote for extremists. This is what happens when you don’t take time to inform yourself about what’s on the ballot, about what decisions are being made. And we have to explain to people that they have to take part in their democracy. Just being in a democracy is not going to ensure you your rights. As we see right now, you have to take action, you have to be able to, to, you know, use your voice and use your platform to make the world that you want just being in this country is not enough. You have to be an active participant.

What do you say to people who have lost faith in the process?

First of all, it’s important that every person understands that they have power; that their vote is their power. And that even if the person that they wanted to win doesn’t win, they still have power as a resident and a citizen of this country. 

And so, when they have an issue, it doesn’t matter how small, whether it’s a pothole in front of their house, there is somebody in their local government whose job it is to make sure that gets taken care of. 

Also, you have to be looking at what resolutions are being introduced by your local government. There are many ways to attend meetings, to show up, to speak out. Local politicians and politicians at every level, including myself, have to support the will of the people. It’s time that people that are in charge put their personal interests and their self-interest to the side and actually go with the will of the people.

We’re seeing a step forward in Florida with abortion being on the ballot. It’s the will of the people, 1.4 million people signed the petition. So, the truth is that people have power and the more that they engage with that power and leverage it and use it to take care of any issues, the more that politicians are going to see that they need to be concerned with the people and not with themselves.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

It’s our fundamental right to have representation that is working for us, the will of the people should always be governing. And that’s why it’s important that every single person that can go out and vote. If there are any impediments to your vote, make sure that you register to vote by mail or that you have a voting plan to vote early, or that you find a way or an advocate to take you.

Imagine what can happen when we have a representative who’s going to work for us, not against us. We need to receive more, not less. Miami-Dade families are in need and it’s time for change and leadership and I’m going to be bringing the type of leadership that Miami-Dade County needs so that we can all move our families forward.

Báez-Geller will face former Key Biscayne Mayor Mike Davey in the Primary Election Aug. 20. The General Election will be held Nov. 5.


  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.



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