“Doral will always be home”
By: María Alejandra Pulgar
@marialepulgar – NAHJ #37172
Photo Credits: Meredith Geddings – FL State Legislature
Ana Maria Rodriguez, former Councilwoman for the City of Doral was elected on November 6th as Representative to the Florida Legislature for District 105, which includes portions of Miami-Dade, Broward and Collier Counties.
Sworn-in for her new office on November 20th, during the organizational session of the legislature, Rodriguez is very enthusiastic to continue in public service, after successfully doing it in Doral for eight years. District 105 “goes from Doral to Naples and from Miramar down to the Hammocks. It is a much bigger space to cover than Doral. Now I am representing a much larger area.”
Rodriguez was chosen vice-chair of the Miami-Dade State Representatives delegation and has also been designated to participate on the subcommittees of Business and Professions; Civil Justice; Health Quality; Higher Education Appropriations, and Public Integrity and Ethics. “We have both Republicans and Democrats, it is a bipartisan delegation and I feel we all have good intentions to work together, which is very important.”
The 2019 Legislative Session is scheduled to begin on the first Tuesday of March. Until then, Rodriguez continues getting ready, meeting with her constituents at her district offices and other events to address their needs.
Running for higher office: a life changing decision
“I think in life you have to live each phase to the fullest and during my tenure in the Council, I served to the maximum capacity that I was able to. Now that I have moved on to the next phase of my life, I feel satisfied and content, because I think I did as good as a job as I could on the City Council” explains Rodriguez.
“I am excited for my city because I feel it is going to stay on a good path right now and I feel that my talents, relationships, and knowledge are going to be helpful to Doral in a different capacity in the Legislature.”
Legislature University: Learning to work at State level
After her swearing-in ceremony in November in Tallahassee, Rodriguez attended, along with the rest of the Freshman Class of Representatives a program called Legislature University, “where each staff director from the different departments taught us the basics with regard to filing legislation and other activities that are going to be part of our job. It was very informative.”
“The training was very thorough because it talked about how the State works with the Federal Government; how the State Medicare and Medicaid work; what is the State doing about water quality, which is a very important issue for me. I learned a lot about that.”
The training included the State Budget process, ”because by the Florida Constitution the only thing we are required to do during the session is to pass a budget, all other laws are extra. […] Every year we have a budget we have to stick out and that is why our State actually has reserves. We have a very good model.”
They were also instructed about session protocol, which was very important, especially for freshman representatives who do not have previous experience in public office.
“I have experience obviously because I was at City Council and you have to follow protocol and it is similar”, explains Rodriguez. ”You have to do everything in a very proper way, and it is very important to receive the training because a lot of people do not have the experience.”
Balancing Family, Job and Public Service
Staying organized is a key component for Rodriguez’s success. Being a wife, mother, full-time employee and now State Representative, she credits her husband Clemente for providing her the stability and support needed to perform all her tasks.
“He is my right hand, an incredible partner. He helps me a lot with the children. Sundays are the days for all of us to get together with the family; I usually do not do any events on Sundays, but the rest of the week I run full steam with all the activities.”
“My family is very supportive. It is hard, but you value more the time that you are together, you appreciate it more, because it is more limited, but you try to make more quality time when you are together.”
She is also very appreciative of her employer, Miami Association of Realtors, who has supported her to continue working while serving in office. “I am thankful because my employer allows me to serve. And my husband is so incredibly helpful and supportive; I could not do it all without him.”
Doral will always be home
Rodriguez and her family continue to live in Doral, although she travels twice a month to the other parts of her district and will have to be staying in Tallahassee during Legislature Session.
“I try to go to the other side of the District twice a month and to Broward too. As I work full time from Monday to Friday, I do a lot of my constituent activities either early in the mornings before coming to work, or in the evenings.”
She will have an office on the first floor of the Doral Government Center. During Session, Rodriguez will be living in Tallahassee from Tuesdays to Thursday, at a house, she is renting with other representatives and she can walk to work. “A lot is going to be changing. But home will always be Doral.”
Ana Maria Rodriguez has come a long way since serving in the Parks and Police for Kids board before running for Doral Council, but she has not changed her character. “I think it is important being genuine, truthful, never lie! If you ever lie it will come back to haunt you.”
“People will have more respect for you when you are truthful. If you want to serve, do it for the right reasons, not for personal gain. People will see right through you and you will not go far. I want to continue serving, for the greater good.”