Living

“The moment that we place people above politics we will be able to achieve more of our goals as a nation.”
– Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera

For over 40 years Bettina has served the people of South Florida as a community advocate, business owner, and elected official with a record of developing solutions to our region’s most pressing issues. Bettina is focused on putting people above politics, providing results instead of partisan bickering, and doing what she has done her entire career, rolling up her sleeves and getting things done.

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Education

We must give our public school system the tools they need to succeed. As a mother and grandmother, I believe we must ensure parents are the ones who decide what the best education option for their individual child is. That is why I believe in strong public schools as well as school choice and supporting charter schools.

We need to expand education choices – including advocating for more vocational training and proficiency in the skilled trades, as well as ensuring Florida continues to have exceptional higher education options.

No conversation of education is complete without addressing the mounting student loan debt crisis. In our country there is more student loan debt ($1.48 trillion) then credit card debt ($1.03 trillion), this is having a direct negative impact on our economy on multiple levels, as recent graduates are feeling financially strained. I will propose positive, sensible solutions to help students secure loans and job security.

Action
We need to modernize and increase investments in our education system, at all levels.

Miami Dade teachers should be better paid, and be incentivized, on a merit based system, for their work. Our school’s teaching method should be revised to better cater to student’s individual needs and talents. We should examine what kind of curriculum best prepares today’s students for successful futures, including considering mandatory subjects like civic education, STEM, emotional intelligence and assuring strong mental health with activities like exercise and meditation.

I would be an advocate for more Federal monies for the Federal 504 and IDEA programs that were created years ago to identify character and behavior issues at a young age but have not been properly financed nor enforced.

We need to eliminate federal funding for the Promise Program that was used in Broward County and does not allow for crimes committed in high school to be reported to the local police.

I would be a proponent of the dual graduation program giving vocational schools the same weight and resources as traditional college classes. Lastly, I would reduce the layers of bureaucracy in the federal education system and channel monies directly to the states.

At the under-graduate and graduate level I would work with a bi-partisan committee and the President to declare the student loan debt a national crises. Thereby allowing students to refinance their debt to 3% at 30 years and develop a program similar to the Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan program. This would permit the average student loan which is $39,000 to be reduced to approximately $100 a month lowering the national debt and allowing students to pay their obligation and regain their credit. All new loans will have an option to be paid in 30 years or less with no pre-payment penalties.

• Greener Living

We need to promote greener and sustainable options for our community, and work with all sectors of society to ensure we continue to promote our economy and job growth.

South Florida depends on our natural resources, such as beaches, warm climate and environment, for much of our economy. We must protect our seashores and take steps to reduce negative impacts to our natural resources and wild life. Technology has reshaped our lives and we should take all the advantages technology provides to create a healthier, more sustainable and less expensive lifestyle.

Action
It is imperative to protect our South Florida environment – our beaches, the everglades and natural resources – as they are directly connected to preserving the well-being of our economy. We must do more to create sustainable living. We should examine options including tax credits and business incentives that demonstrate a return on investment. I will promote more education and alternatives to gradually embrace environmentally friendly programs (solar, wind, electric and clean coal) that will protect our shorelines and will decrease seashore erosion and flooding.

• Human Rights

As a lifelong defender of human rights I believe all people should be treated with dignity. I was born in Cuba and at a young age my family and I sought refuge in America, though my father stayed behind, and later was jailed as a Cuban political prisoner. The next time I saw my father, I was 17 years old. This experience lead me to fight for human rights for the people of Cuba, and for individuals all across the globe, at home and abroad, including in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Haiti, and China.

Action
As your congresswoman I vow to fight for justice, fairness and continue to do what I have always done for over 40 years, defend human dignity and the right to liberty and justice, always placing people above politics.

• Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery, with many victims being sold into the sex trade, forced labor or used for organ harvesting. Florida has the sad distinction of being among the top three states in the nation in human trafficking victims and Miami-Dade County is #1 in human trafficking in the state of Florida. One of my goals is to stop this horrific crime. As Vice-Mayor I proposed and passed a law to train police officers, code enforcement officials and businesses on how to identify human trafficking victims and closed two human trafficking centers. This law was later used as model legislation, and used as an example in other cities to continue to close similar outlets.

Although our government and law enforcement have made many advancements in combating human trafficking, the number of victims continue to rise. Approximately 80% of the human trafficking victims are girls and 20% are boys. The average age is 13-18 years old, many are local runaways and abused children.

Action
I will work to do more to educate the public on human trafficking, modern-day slavery. In Congress, I will work with colleagues to implement successful local practices and ensure that all law enforcement, including code enforcement officers, state, local and federal officials, and school teachers be given training on the signs of human trafficking. We must ensure that those convicted be persecuted to the maximum extent of the law and for more to be done to help victims.

• Women Rights

As a strong advocate for women, throughout my life I have developed programs domestically and abroad to empower women and girls. I have worked to ensure women have a seat at the table across all industries and professions.
Defending our rights to compete in the workplace, to abolish domestic violence and harassment in the workplace.

Thanks to many men like Republican President Woodrow Wilson and women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton that pioneered women rights in 1849 and the woman that holds this seat today, Ileana Ros- Lehtinen, who became the first Hispanic woman to be elected to a congressional seat and opened opportunities for others to follow.
I thank all those that have believed in me, I am humbled for your support and am ready to develop future policy to support women’s right.

Some of my past efforts include:

• Founded and led the first women business incubator program, the New Women Entrepreneur Center (1993-2000), in Miami, FL. Assisted over 600 businesses start and develop.

• Inspired and assisted in creating the first Women Business Executive program in Lithuania and Ghana, 1995 and 1996

• Assisted in creating the first law against domestic violence in Albania in 1999

• Sponsored and passed the first Commission on the Status of Women in City of Doral, 2014

• Developed an international women summit with representatives from over 10 countries, 2015

• Created the first Institute for Women Studies and the Women Empowering Leadership Certificate Course for Miami Dade College, 2016

• Authored and co-trained the first women focused program for Libyan women running for office, 2017

Action
As a champion of women rights I believe we must continue to work to ensure equal pay for women and eliminate discrimination. As your congresswoman, I will advocate for the Paycheck Fairness Act. I will lobby my colleagues for paid maternity leave. We must continue to work to expand opportunities for women, including women-owned small business, workforce training and supporting women in STEM fields. As your next Congresswoman, I will ensure women continue to have a voice at the federal and local level.

Selected distinctions:

• Miami Herald, Feature- Los Buenos Negocios de Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera. 1993
• Miami Herald, editorial, by: Bea Garcia, “ Passing along her experience” 1993
• Vanidades magazine, Han triunfado, 1994
• HISPANIC magazine, The Midas touch for business, 1995
• Flag of the USA, flown over capital presented by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, 1995 for the New Women Entrepreneur Center
• Florida International University-Distinguished alumnae, 1996
• Lithuanian Women Business mentor, 1998
• NHLI (National Hispana Leadership Institute) I fellow, 1994
• Women Hall of Fame recipient, LULAC ( League of United Latin American Citizen) 2011
• Recognized by Safespace Women shelter 2014
• Recognized by the United Nations for assisting to end women violence. 2014

• LIFE:

I believe in defending life from birth to our physical departure with dignity and grace. Life is worth fighting for, because of this, we must protect the rights of the unborn, and mothers. That being said children and the elderly are vulnerable to swindlers that take advantage of them through guardianships and other programs that strip them of their rights and their safety.
Action
I will advocate for NO tax dollars to be used to pay for the termination of life. I understand that there must be some exceptions, including protecting the health of the mother, rape and incest, and while many face difficult situations, we must foster a culture that respects life.
I vow to be vigilant and close loopholes that allow abuse for those that need It the most, special needs families, children, seniors and the unborn.

• Animal Rights

For many, animals are not just pets but beloved members of our families. Pets can improve human quality of life, serve as a companion, can help treat and diagnose illnesses, improve emotional and physical health, and much more. I am a proud pet owner and believe in protecting animal rights and treating animals humanly.

Acknowledging this special bond between pets and their humans, many property owners are taking advantage of pet owners and charging non-refundable deposits for owning a pet and additional pet rent.

Action

As your congresswoman I will defend the pet owner’s right and advocate that pet deposit, which are an average of $500, be refundable. I will vote against laws that would allow the slaughter of dogs, cats or horses in order to sell their meat abroad.

• Arts & Culture

I am a strong supporter of the arts and believe art promotes our shared humanity, inspires our creativity and fosters goodness and beauty. Art helps build bridges of understanding between cultures of all ages. Art also promotes economic development and prosperity, and can provide multiple positive impacts for cities and schools.

Action
As your congresswoman, I will support projects that promote art and culture, and establish an economic public/private partnership to foster both the creativity of the community and the financial prosperity for our country.