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The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

Senior Issue 2024
June 5, 2024

Candidate for U.S. Congress Annette Taddeo visits Key Biscayne, meets with MAST Academy students

MAST Academy senior Lourdes Villela shakes hands with Florida state senator Annette Taddeo. Photo by Matthew Bunch.

On October 1, Florida State Senator Annette Taddeo came to Key Biscayne’s Milanezza to give her potential constituents a chance to get to know her and what she stands for. 

Taddeo is running for the seat representing Florida’s 27th District as a Democrat; her opponent is Republican incumbent Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, who attended a similar event at the same location exactly one week later

The “Meet and Greet” lasted about 40 minutes. It began at 9:30, with Key Biscayne mayoral candidates Joe Rasco and Fausto Gomez introducing themselves. Hermanos de la Calle founder Narciso Muñoz, founder of Hermandos de la Calle — which hosted the event — was there as well. Topics included her background and what made her want to become a “public servant,” hurricanes and hurricane relief, the property insurance crisis, building codes, and immigration.  

Taddeo was born in Colombia. Her father was an American fighter pilot that fought in World War II and the Korean War.

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“I get my fighting spirit from my dad,” Taddeo said.

Taddeo also credited her fighting spirit to the extensive number of surgeries she had to undergo to fix a cleft lip, 19 in total.

She and her family fled Colombia after her father was kidnapped by members of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army (FARC). Her father escaped, but they had to leave because they were now in danger. She was the first to leave Colombia; she left alone and went to Alabama, where she finished high school while learning to sustain herself and learn a new language. 

Her ambitions for public office began when she was in college. She was running for secretary of her class, and she had put up posters all around the school. And on the day of the election, she felt the impact of discrimination.

“My posters no longer said ‘Annette Taddeo for secretary.’ Secretary had been crossed out and it said, ‘Annette Taddeo for deportation.’ ” She then continued to say that she lost the election and that it was a very difficult lesson to learn.

“I lost that election, but I gained so much more.”

“I won, and I became the first Latina Democrat in Florida history to serve in the Florida Senate. Y la primera Colombiana tambien,” Taddeo said about her 2017 victory. “We need to be there for people when people need us. And that’s what I did, and that’s what I do all the time, represent everyone for five years proudly, got reelected again, because people know that although I am a very proud Democrat … I am much more about putting country first.”


She then ended her speech and moved on to crowd questions. The first question was about education, specifically about, “stopping DeSantis from ruining education” through the banning of books.

“I have been in Tallahassee fighting the fight, and I am a proud Jewish Latina, and I can tell you that the history of this world is riddled with situations where people do not want us and our kids learning about history … but if we don’t learn history then history will repeat itself … How do we beat him? By showing up to vote.

“There are also a lot of lies and a lot of misinformation about what is taught in our schools. I know that there are things that are being said that are taught to 3- and 5-year-olds. And that has never happened, and it was never a part of our curriculum. But again, when you cannot get elected on a job well done, you have to come up with incendiary things to excite a base.” 

A question about immigration reform came next, to which Senator Taddeo answered that, “we have to pass comprehensive immigration reform” and that she would be highly critical of anyone that says otherwise. She also stated that the number of visas granted must be raised immediately. She criticized Gov. DeSantis’ migrant flights from Texas to Massachusetts through Florida.

“I do not think that Hispanics or any immigrants should be used as political pawns. … The taxpayer dollars being used for this is also inappropriate.” 

MAST Academy’s Enzo Fouquet was the last to ask a question, focusing on climate change:

“As a young person, climate change is not just an issue, it is the defining issue of my life, so in light of hurricane Ian, Floridians are facing the full force of the climate crisis, what are your policies to mitigate and adapt to this crisis?”

Taddeo replied in support of significant government action to combat climate change and support mitigation.

“Climate change is real, and unfortunately, we have too many politicians who don’t want to talk about it don’t want to plan for it, and unfortunately, we have been warning for a while, and we were told that we were being ridiculous and that it wasn’t real, the reason we are having such stronger hurricanes is because of climate change… so how to mitigate it? There are lots of ways, but a lot of the job of the congressperson is to bring back the funding to do that.”

The topic tied back to immigration when Taddeo stated that climate change will be a huge push and pull factor in immigration.

The event concluded with face-to-face discussions with voters in the audience, including other MAST Academy students.

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