Sabrina Bousbar shares why she’s running for Congress

Sabrina Bousbar

Image courtesy of the Bousbar Campaign

By Giselle Balido

May 14, 2024

Bousbar, who is running to unseat Republican Anna Paulina Luna in November, talked to Floricua about what is really causing high prices and inflation, and who’s restricting freedoms across the state.

Ask Sabrina Bousbar why she decided to go into politics, and the Pinellas County born and raised daughter of Moroccan and Colombian immigrants will unfailingly reply: “My family.”

“My parents are immigrants. They came to this country about 34 years ago and from a young age they taught me the importance of having the ability to stand up for what you believe in so that you can show up for your community.”

Those early conversations inspired Bousbar, who might otherwise have become a marine biologist, to follow her heart and her conscience.

She has served as a senior advisor in the US Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), supporting federal, state, and local health agencies during the pandemic. She also helped support communities recovering from mass shootings and natural disasters, and provided relief to millions of children, families, and seniors in Florida and nationwide.

Today, as she runs for Congress to unseat Republican Anna Paulina Luna, Bousbar sat down for a one-on-one interview with Floricua.

In Florida we’ve had more than 20 years of a Republican majority in the local government. What have we seen as a result of that?

Everything from the books being banned to the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, to even redrawing districts, which is considered gerrymandering. We’re seeing a time where inflation is super high in the state in comparison with the nation, where insurance is more expensive than we’ve seen before, where Social Security checks no longer can help our seniors when it comes to paying their bills, and they now have to work again.

Inflation and affordability are big concerns to Floridians. When pinning responsibility for this situation, many voters look to the federal government. Are they right?

A lot of people like to talk about insurance, for example, or the affordability crisis. And I tell them that’s on your state legislature that is in charge of reining in prices, and of your county commissioners when it comes to housing and affordability. It’s not your congressional member, it’s not your president. It’s not your senator, it’s actually your state legislature. These local elected officials are the ones who actually have a lot of say in what you’re doing.

What does that mean, in lay terms?

The way I explain it to a lot of people is the federal level gets all the money from Congress; they pass the budget. Then the agencies take that money, and they give it to the states. And what’s unfortunate with Ron DeSantis is that he didn’t want the Biden money, even though it was federal government money that was passed for the betterment of our state.

 

RELATED: Sabrina Bousbar: Florida women are waking up with fewer rights today

 

What examples do you have of this?

The biggest thing I tell people is when you look at the Biden-Harris administration, the first two years they passed the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Chips and Science Act. I mean, there’s so much great legislation that was passed that gave money to these states, and unfortunately, we had governors like Ron Desantis who did not want to accept that money, who did not want to claim that money as a Biden-Harris administration bill.

I tell people a lot of the time that I get it: the president is the end all be all. But also, you have to realize it’s federal to state to local. And so, if you really want to blame the inflation and all the issues that you’re encountering right now, don’t blame the president. You have to look at your own government who is governing the state.

When I am talking to a voter who might not be super involved in politics and they actually never realize that they’re like, ‘Wait, he didn’t want money from the federal government?’

In your opinion, why does DeSantis reject the federal money coming to our state?

Outside of working at the Department of Health and Human Services, I also worked in the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach at the White House. And it was incredible to see these Republican governors who did not want to work with us; they refused to take our money because they didn’t want it to be like a win [for the Democrats].

The best example that I’ve given people recently is the immigration reform bill that was in the House. Former President Donald Trump saw that this was an issue that they can win on in November, so they were petty enough to retract that bill and retract the Republican support so that they wouldn’t deliver a win for the Biden Harris administration.

 

RELATED: Anna Paulina Luna’s history of opposing abortion rights

A big part of the Latino population in the state has bought into the baseless notion that Democrats are communists or socialists. How do you counter that?

I was a regional organizing director in South Florida for 2020. I saw that everywhere every Latino voter, every person I spoke to, said ‘You all are socialists, you are communists, you are taking us back to where we ran away from.’ And of course, I was like, ‘no, no, no, no, no!’ So, when I speak to people about it, I always say, ‘tell me why you feel that way. ‘ A lot of the time they’re like, ‘oh, well, you know, you want to give everything for free to everyone,’ and I’m like, ‘no, we don’t.’ So, what I really do when I talk to people about the socialism, communism aspect, I [say] ‘Look at the Republican Party. We have Donald Trump who literally said in a Times interview that he would literally want to be a dictator.’ If anything, he’s the fascist. He is actually trying to do what they ran away from.

How can the Democrats convey that message?

At the end of the day, it’s how do we turn it around and say, you know, the Democrats just want the government to work. And so, it’s reminding people that we are not socialists, we are not communists. We are the party that’s for the people and wants to ensure that you have the ability to live healthily and safely.

You are running in November against the Republican incumbent Anna Paulina Luna. How do your positions differ from hers?

She is one of the congressional candidates that wants a national abortion ban. She wants women to suffer and to potentially die, because she wants an abortion ban. Like I said, [abortion] is between the doctor and the woman. Whether you’re religious, whether you’re not, whether you have different beliefs, it is so important that your government is not deciding those health decisions for you. That is between you, your doctor, your family. Additionally, she is denying the climate crisis. She says that she’s an advocate… but we’re not seeing actual action around that.

When she ran back in 2022, she said that she was going to bring inflation down. Inflation is double the amount in this district than it is across the nation. And so, the difference between me and Anna Paulina Luna is that I have the federal government experience and actually got things done for the American people, while in her two years as an elected official, she has gotten absolutely nothing done for this district and actually has caused more harm than good. She voted to cut Social Security by a trillion dollars. She doesn’t want to expand Medicaid, which is something that people desperately need when the number one reason families are going into debt is health care bills.

Political pundits have said they sense a growing voter apathy that might mean a low voter turnout in November. How do you convince people to vote?

I tell people ‘Your vote is your voice.’ So, when you think ‘I can’t afford rent’ or ‘I can’t afford to get the groceries I need to get to feed my family’ or ‘gas is super expensive,’ [my] message to everyone is that you have to vote if you want your voice to be heard. It is crucial that we all vote in every election.

I tell everyone ‘Do not just vote during presidential years, you need to vote during the midterms. You need to vote during the special elections. You need to vote during the municipal races.’ Iwillvote.com is the easiest website to go to make sure you’re registered to vote. That’s the beauty of this country: that your voice can truly be heard when you go and vote.

Author

  • 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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