Naples Daily News: New chapter with Mary Barzee Flores in Congress
For Congress to change its ways of not getting important problems solved because of polarized politics, it means thanking some familiar faces for their long service and giving a promising new leader an opportunity to step forward.
With that in mind, we recommend 25th Congressional District voters send former judge Mary Barzee Flores to Washington to replace a congressman who has served eight terms since 2002.
There’s no disputing that Mario Diaz-Balart deserves tremendous gratitude for specific programs and grants he steered forward for eastern Collier County.
However, after those 16 years, we sit here with putrid water-quality problems when Washington, through eight-year Republican and Democratic administrations, failed miserably to deliver on what was promised in 2000 to be a 50-50 partnership with the state on Everglades restoration. Freshmen Florida congressmen Francis Rooney and Brian Mast have moved the needle the past two years.
Families and seniors struggling to make ends meet worry about medical expenses, medication costs or affordable health insurance while fearing financial ruin from serious illness. They sit here in a political crossfire of Washington finger-pointing instead of healthy handshakes across the aisle.
There are kids and young adults known as Dreamers who, through decisions made by parents to reside in this country illegally, are pawns in a political party push-pull over immigration reform. They can’t get assurance of their future.
Two prominent Florida Republicans from Naples have cited the need for federal term limits. That should apply to Republicans and Democrats.
We’ve taken a slightly different view. Voters shouldn’t be hamstrung by having to select an ill-prepared candidate to replace someone with long service, just because of arbitrary term limits.
Here, however, Barzee Flores is imminently qualified and well prepared. If not for a Washington-style political maneuver, she’d be a federal judge. As a South Florida native who’s served as a circuit judge, federal public defender and attorney, she knows the region and issues. She vows to represent everyone and to do so on both the east and west coast sides of this cross-state district.
“As a judge, I ruled on the merits,” she said. “I didn’t care if you were a Republican or Democrat. … You do what’s right and it has nothing to do with party affiliation.”
Asked about an immigration reform first priority, she didn’t hesitate: Take care of Dreamers. Diaz-Balart reverted to the multifaceted approach, including Dreamers, that’s for years bogged down in Congress.
Barzee Flores on climate change: “South Florida is ground zero for climate change, and we must lead the way in combating it.” Diaz-Balart’s response was that he needs to see a bill to convince him.
Democrat Barzee Flores is adamantly opposed to more offshore drilling. Republican Diaz-Balart in June sided in a mostly party-line vote against an amendment to further restrict expansion of offshore drilling.
Barzee Flores talks passionately about her concern for tens of millions of Americans without health care and people scrimping on medications because they can’t afford more. She suggests exploring how modifications of a single-payer system might be a solution. Meanwhile, a Congress that desperately needs a transfusion of new blood remains mired in how or whether to modify the Affordable Care Act.
We certainly don’t wish to see Diaz-Balart’s public service end. That would be a loss for District 25 and South Florida, given his institutional knowledge and stint as an appropriations subcommittee chairman. However, opportunities will arise for administrative posts or other Florida elective offices.
We endorse Barzee Flores as a new face for Congress.