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The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

Rep. Salazar visits Key Biscayne for meet and greet

Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, running for re-election, speaks to community members and MAST Academy students
Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) speaks with members of the public at Milanezza Kitchen Bar Market in Key Biscayne on October 8, 2022. Photo by Matthew Bunch.
Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) speaks with members of the public at Milanezza Kitchen Bar Market in Key Biscayne on October 8, 2022. Photo by Matthew Bunch.

Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar came to Key Biscayne’s Milanezza Kitchen Bar Market on October 8, 2022, to give constituents a chance to get to know her and what she stands for.

Salazar is a journalist, author, and politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 27th congressional district as a Republican. She is currently running for reelection against Democratic Florida state senator Annette Taddeo. Like her opponent’s meet and greet the previous weekend, it lasted about 40 minutes, also beginning at 9:30, with local politicians like Joe Rasco and Fausto Gomez introducing themselves and giving constituents a chance to get to know them as well. Hermanos de la Calle founder and host Narciso Muñoz introduced the event, indicating both meet-and-greets were not partisan thing, but were a means of getting constituents informed.

Representative Salazar has been in office for the past 18 months; she states that she is a moderate Republican. Topics included her background, hurricanes, inflation, and immigration.  

The meet and greet was spoken in “Spanglish,” a mixture of English and Spanish. While the first topic covered was environmental protection, specifically a “natural fortress” of mangroves to protect from the dangers of hurricanes, the conversation quickly shifted to partisanship and a discussion of Salazar’s view of anti-American sentiments.

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“What I’m saying is that I am very concerned because what is happening in this country has nothing to do with what partisanship; you can be whatever you want to be. The democratic party has very noble people. Very good people that want to do good for the country, and I see it. And I work with them. The problem is that, unfortunately, within that Democratic party — and the GOP has their sins too — is that the problem that I see with what’s happening right now is that there is this force that is penetrating the country that is anti-American.”

She then went on to argue that she votes for what is in the best interest of the country and her counties and that she can vote for Democratic and Republican legislature, but that alleges the Democratic party is not doing the same.

“I vote what’s good for the district, environmental, the veterans, the elderly, lo que sea, whatever makes sense. But I see that, unfortunately, the other party is like rabiosos; they do not because they do not like the platforms the American exceptionality is standing on. And I do not like that.” ranks Salazar as the 49th most liberal member of the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives, placing her closer to the opposing party than more than 75 percent of other Republicans. She is characterized by the organization as a “moderate Republican leader.” 

“I talk to AOC [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez], I talk to Nancy [Pelosi]. I talk to everyone because I don’t care. Because I was a journalist, I don’t have to be there [Washington, D.C]. Mañana pierdo? I can go back to television, and make a lot more money, and work a lot less. So, I feel that I am here because I am a true public servant.” 

Both of Salazars parents were political refugees.

“In one generation, I was able to go from little Havana to the United States Congress.” Congresswoman Salazar stated, explaining both parents’ background as political refugees.

MAST Academy student Enzo Fouquet asked Salazar about the Electoral Count Reform Act of 2022 (ECRA), a bill in response to the insurrection that happened at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, which attempted to interfere with the counting of Electoral College votes as required in the United States Constitution. Salazar voted against a similar bill introduced in the House of Representatives and was asked, “why?” by a MAST Academy student.

“Elections belong to the states; they do not belong to the federal government … and I voted against it because I do believe that what the Democratic party right now is doing, because they are in power, is that they want to federalize the elections. And I do not like that because, you know, I like a piece of paper called the Constitution.”

MAST Academy students listen to Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar meet with the public at Milanezza Kitchen Bar Market in Key Biscayne on October 8, 2022. Photo by Matthew Bunch.

She had a lot to say about illegal immigration and about the Biden administration’s response to it.

“What’s happening on the border is terrible for all of us, being Hispanics, Latinos, como quieran llamarnos. It’s terrible. It’s giving us a very bad reputation and because it’s creating chaos in this country,” Salazar said.

“I think, besides protecting my district, [immigration reform] is going to be my legacy.”

The topic of immigration reform came up again when Representative Salazar spoke about her DIGNIDAD (Dignity) Act. In short, the act is supposed to give “Dignity” to illegal citizens by providing them legal working status and, eventually, a pathway to citizenship. The bill would also establish more border protection and authorize the Department of Homeland Security to request support from the National Guard. 

Yo siendo Republicanana, Le tengo mucha pena, lastima, consideracion, a aquellos que estan recogiendo, that are picking up the jalapeno peppers in southern California, or cleaning the toilets in Manhattan, or here, maybe back there [in the restaurant’s kitchen] peeling the potatoes. I feel very bad for those people. And I think they deserve something called dignity.”

She then went on to blame former President Barack Obama for not following through with his promises regarding immigration. A man in the audience (later identified as organizer, Democratic National Committee member, and political gadfly Thomas Kennedy) countered, stating that Obama did in fact propose immigration reform. Salazar countered, “Sir, don’t let them fool you.” She later referred to Kennedy, who is confirmed to be a constituent of the congresswoman, a “stalker.”

She then called on MAST Academy AP U.S. Government and Politics teacher Mr. Bunch to answer a question made by another constituent regarding what the current administration should do about immigration reform. Mr. Bunch [who is the adviser to The Beacon], stated his role as a nonpartisan educator, but Salazar repeated her request. Bunch began by giving the backstory, telling the history of the topic beginning with President Obama and Senator Rubio abandoning the topic. Rep. Salazar replied, “no, but forget anyone else … No, we do not need to talk about the past.” The exchange lasted for about two minutes, before the end of the question-and-answer session. Salazar met with constituents one-on-one in the restaurant before departing.

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