A look at the democrats running for seat to be vacated by Ros-Lehtinen

(WSVN) - It’s a seat in Congress that has been in Republican hands since President Ronald Reagan, but the district went heavy for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and it could be the Democrats’ best chance to pick up a new seat as they try to take back the House of Representatives. 7’s Jeff Lennox has a look at the Democrats running for District 27.

For close to 40 years, Senior U.S. Representative from Florida Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has shuttled back and forth from South Florida to Washington working for her constituents.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: “Every day I get up and pinch myself asking, ‘Do I really have this job?'”

But her work as a U.S. congresswoman is quickly coming to a close.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: “It’s been the greatest honor of my professional life to have represented our community for so many years.”

Looking to take over the District 27 seat is a field of five Democrats. The party is hoping to flip the seat in a district that voted for Hillary Clinton by the highest margin for any Republican-held district.

We start with Donna Shalala, who is no stranger to life in Washington D.C. She served under President Bill Clinton as his Secretary of Health and Human Services and she also held the position of president of the University of Miami.

When it comes to immigration, she plans to take on President Trump on the issue of ICE.

Donna Shalala: “The problem with ICE is the president of the United States who personally set those policies.”

Next is State Representative David Richardson. Elected to the State House in 2012, he was the first openly gay man to serve in the Florida Legislature.

Speaking on immigration, Richardson wants to take a page out of history.

David Richardson: “We need to go back to what we had before 2002, have an enforcement mechanism, but we do not need military-style tactics addressing immigration issues.”

Miami Beach City Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez is also in the running. This South Florida native said she’s a proud single mom who fights for an equal paying field for all.

She too, sounded off on immigration.

Kristen Rosen Gonzalez: “We don’t need to militarize ICE and terrorize refugees and immigrants, and people who are coming here who are actually doing a lot of jobs that other people don’t want to do.”

There is also Matt Haggman, who worked as a reporter at the Miami Herald. On his webpage, he says gun violence, health care and immigration are among the first issues he would tackle if elected.

Matt Haggman: “This is a 15-year experiment. ICE was started in 2003. We were able to enforce our immigration laws before under the Immigration and Naturalization Service. We can do so again.”

Rounding out the field is Michael Hepburn. The president of a nonprofit is looking to pave a path for tuition-free colleges, and he aims to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Curbing gun violence is also part of his platform.

Michael Hepburn: “Three hundred-something million guns in America. One of the things we talk about, me and my running mate, it’s time to stop all imports and exports on guns, period. Why not have a ban on all semi-automatic weapons?”

After the Parkland massacre, Hepburn is not the only candidate with opinions on how to handle gun violence in the U.S.

Matt Haggman: “The second amendment is a bedrock part of our Constitution, but it’s time we start talking about how we’re going to bring an end to gun violence in America, which is a uniquely U.S. problem.”

The final topic came with varying takes: transportation in the State of Florida.

David Richardson: “The decision needs to be made at the local level. I do believe that there is a place and a need at the Federal level for transportation funding.”

Donna Shalala: “Get a big infrastructure bill. We need a big investment for Kendall, but for our entire community because our politicians have never seriously dealt with the traffic issue. It’s gonna take Federal money.”

Michael Hepburn: “One of the main things I do with our residents is educate them about taxes and options we have as far as even getting to the point of suing Miami-Dade County to recoup some of the money that wasn’t spent on the things it was supposed to be in the first place.”

The primary set for Aug. 28. Early voting begins on Monday in Miami-Dade County and Saturday, Aug. 18 in Broward County.


Miami-Dade County voting

Broward County voting

Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.