Know Your Candidate (Part 3): Lisandra Román Says Being Accessible to Kissimmee Communities Is Her #1 Priority


Image courtesy of Lisandra Román

By Mivette Vega

July 8, 2020

The Puerto Rican entrepreneur will run against five candidates for the mayoral chair of Kissimmee. Two contenders in the race are also Puerto Rican.

FLORIDA — Lisandra Román wanted to bring a little bit of Puerto Rico to Kissimmee, so seven years ago she opened El Jibarito, a lechonera that brings the flavor, music, and traditions of the island to the Florida city. She never imagined the experience would open other doors — like running for Mayor of Kissimmee — for her. 

As the owner of the roast-pork joint, she encountered the stories and situations facing Latino communities firsthand.

RELATED: Know Your Candidate (Part 1): Jackie Espinosa Wants to Be Kissimmee’s Mayor. Here’s Her Vision for the City.

These conversations sparked her interest in politics. In the 2016 elections, Román ran for Commissioner of Kissimmee. Two years later, she ran once more.

Now Román is running for mayor of Kissimmee. The candidate is part of a historic race. She’ll be competing with two other Puerto Ricans in the August 18 primaries — business owner Jackie Espinosa and Kissimmee commissioner Olga González— as well as community activist Freddy Villanueva, school teacher Alvin Codner, and city commissioner Angela Eady. Two candidates will remain after the primaries.

“I’ve come close to winning. We must all persevere. I don’t quit, and if I want to work for a better community, for a better town, I have to keep on trying,” Román told The Americano.

The candidate explained Kissimmee’s government structure allows for the mayor to work closely with city commissioners. Their work depends on each other, she said. 

As a candidate, auditing existing government projects is one of her main priorities, aiming to maximize benefits for the communities. 

“I want to establish initiatives that assist single mothers and the elderly, and foment education,” Román said.

The candidate explained there’s a need for government projects that go hand in hand with Kissimmee’s growth in population, especially during the last five years. 

“We must establish more government projects that meet the needs of a developing community. With so many people arriving, funds need to be allocated where they are needed.”

Being accessible to people and communities is important for Román. She says politicians should be within the public’s reach, and that Latino communities need to know how politics work in the United States. She believes this understanding would motivate them to vote. 

“Politics are very different here than in Puerto Rico. I know many Puerto Ricans arrive here feeling disappointed. They think political parties here are the same as there. The position I’m running for is not partisan, for example,” Román explains.

City, Country, City

Román was born in New Jersey to Puerto Rican parents. When she was 3 months old, her family moved to Adjuntas, a town in the mountainous central region of Puerto Rico.

Román said she enjoyed a happy childhood in her father’s coffee farm. 

“My father was a farmer and businessman. I grew up on the farm. My first job was to help out with the coffee harvest. When we were older, my dad bought business with a lechonera and colmado. We spent so much time there,” Román remembers.

At age 12, she moved to Boston with her mother. Her parents divorced, and Román went to high school there.

She moved to Elizabeth, NJ—where she was born—when she was 18 years old and lived with her father. “I went there and started working. I was used working since I was very young. Starting at age 14, I worked doing translations, and was also employed by medical offices and restaurants.”

Her father eventually moved to Orlando, where Román has lived for the past 10 years. “I stayed by myself in New Jersey, working. I visited my dad in Orlando and liked it there, so I decided to move.”

Román has two children: Celia, who is 16 years old, and Héctor, 12. She enjoys how her kids are at an age where they are more aware of the process she’s going through as a mayoral candidate. 

“They know this campaign is important. My girl asked me, ‘when is the campaign starting, I want to go.’ They are happy that I’m running,” Román said.

RELATED: Know Your Candidate (Part 2): Olga González Knows Struggle. That’s Why She Wants to be Kissimmee’s Mayor.


CATEGORIES: Elections | Floricua | Florida


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