“I’m running for Congress because I believe our politics and our politicians have gotten too small and the challenges we face are too big.”
– Mary Barzee Flores
Mary Barzee Flores was born in Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital. Her father, Austin Barzee, was a veteran of World War II, and managed a fish and tackle store in Miami. Her mother, Margaret, was an Air Force officer in the Korean War, and a registered nurse.
Mary grew up in a small house outside of Little Havana, just blocks from the Flagler Dog Track, with her brother, Bill, and sister, Anastasia. The Barzee siblings attended Miami-Dade public schools and Mary graduated from Coral Gables High.
Mary attended the University of Miami, and majored in music, hoping to become a classical conductor. While an undergraduate, Mary’s mentor in the music program suggested that she pursue an MBA or a law degree, warning that women had a tough road in the music business and an advanced degree would help her professionally.
She took his advice and enrolled in the UM law school, where her passion for the law and the administration of justice was born.
After law school, Mary worked as an attorney in private practice only briefly, before joining the federal Office of the Public Defender in Miami, where she served for 12 years.
While in the public defenders office, she met, fell in love with, and married, Hector Flores. They have been together for 28 years and have two children, Riley and Adrian.
In 2002, Mary decided to run for an open seat as a Florida Circuit Court Judge. She was elected without opposition and in her time on the bench, earned a reputation as a tough but fair, and well-respected, judge.
After nearly eight years on the Circuit Court, Mary retired and went back into private practice. But just a few years later, she again answered the call to public service, when President Barack Obama nominated her for a judgeship on the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida.
Despite initially recommending her nomination to President Obama – along with his fellow Florida Senator, Bill Nelson – Sen. Marco Rubio prevented Mary from ever sitting on the bench. Rubio cited two, small political donations from the 1990s – to the ACLU and EMILY’s List – for his decision to block her nomination.
Like Judge Merrick Garland – and dozens of President Obama’s other, well-qualified, judicial nominees – Mary was never even given a hearing in the Senate judiciary committee, much less an up or down vote on her nomination.
Mary is running for congress because she remains committed to public service, even more so after experiencing, firsthand, how petty our politics have become.
Mary lives in Coral Gables with her husband, Hector, and their two children, Riley and Adrian Flores. Riley is headed to Northeastern this fall to major in neuroscience; and Adrian is going to be a junior at Coral Gables High, his mother and sister’s alma mater.