Juan-Paredes The young Democrat is focused on creating equal opportunities for all.
Image via Desirée Tapia

Citing the Republican incumbent’s lack of a sufficient healthcare plan, as well as his inability to address income inequality, housing and other social welfare benefits, Paredes vows to do better for all Floridians, not just a privileged few.

Juan Paredes is not a career politician. He is just a young man with a mission borne from the hard lessons he learned growing up poor in South Florida.

“I understand the struggles most people have. I know what it’s like to live in economic uncertainty, so it’s given me a perspective of the dysfunction of our societies, and the way they take care of our citizens,” the SEO technical expert who works at a Florida company told Floricua.

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Paredes, of Dominican descent, grew up in Miami seeing his mother work hard to provide for her family, yet still struggle to meet their necessities. Today, he wants the opportunity to help create “a society designed to provide those necessities as efficiently as possible, so nobody has to struggle.”  

For this he needs to unseat Republican Rep. Carlos Gimenez and win his District 26 seat in Congress this November. The reason he is challenging the incumbent, he said, is as straightforward as his mission: to undo some of the career politician’s biggest failures in serving Floridians.

“Gimenez doesn’t have a concise and sufficient healthcare plan; he does not address income inequality in a sufficient way; has not been able to provide a clear plan for housing or other social welfare benefits, or for the climate catastrophe that is going to happen in the coming decades,” he expressed.

A Plan That Lifts People Up

Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who served as a US Representative for Florida’s 26th congressional district from 2019 to 2021 and lost the congressional seat to Gimenez, told Floricua she believes “if we want to put Florida’s families first, then we must ensure we have more Democrats in Congress who will work to support them.”  

“If we don’t change our society for the better soon, we won’t have the opportunity to do it later,” Paredes states on his website.

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When it comes to health care, for example, Mucarsel-Powell points out a grim reality: “For more than 10 years Republicans have been trying to abolish the ACA, which would result in millions of Floridians losing their healthcare coverage.”

Paredes wants to address that. The Democratic candidate is a proponent of Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal, a bill which would essentially prevent private corporations from competing with the federal government.

“This way we can ensure everyone is covered and cared for. It’s the only proposal that can effectively provide the entire country with care in a lasting way,” he said.

Paredes also supports a federally mandated $15 an hour minimum wage by 2025, also as proposed by Bernie Sanders. The Sunshine State’s minimum wage is $8.56. That amount will increase to $10 in September, after Amendment 2 was passed last November.

Housing Is Not a Privilege

However, a study has revealed that a full-time hourly worker would need to earn $24.90 an hour to afford a rental home at the average “fair market rent” in the US, which is $1,295 a month, according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. But housing is a right, not a privilege, according to Paredes.

“Rent needs to be controlled, so that people are not being forced into gentrification, or to live on the streets,” Paredes said. He also believes homelessness could be eradicated in Florida with a new housing program.
 
“Approximately 34,000 homeless Americans reside in Florida. But we can treat and/or house them,” he said, with a program that, among other aspects, could include those who rent. The program would only allow one increase in rent per year that equates to the rate of inflation, in addition to a percentage for profit.

Education for All

Paredes believes that from an early age, education is dependent on a person’s financial status and social class. He is not against private schools for those who can afford it, but he wants those who attend public school to receive the best education possible.

“The schools for primary and secondary education are not funded nationally, but by district,” he pointed out. “Poor districts get poor schools, those who are not able to afford the necessary supplies.” He also proposes to forgive student loan debt “and make education a right, not a privilege, by making public colleges and universities free at the point of access.”

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A Fundable Plan

When asked where the money to fund all these social programs would come from, Paredes said the government needs to find out where the money is going.

“The last time we audited the military they failed spectacularly. They didn’t know where a lot of that money was going. We need to find out where we are spending excessively and redistribute that money to social benefits that can improve people’s lives.”