South Florida Council of Firefighters backs ‘remarkably equipped’ Janelle Perez for Senate

Perez, Janelle 5
‘Circumstances have already proven (she is) remarkably equipped with a fighting drive.’

Democratic business owner Janelle Perez’s just gained another union endorsement in her bid for Senate District 38.

On Wednesday, Perez’s campaign announced the support of the South Florida Council of Firefighters (SFCFF), a collective bargaining group standing for first responders in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties that has backed members of both major political parties this election cycle.

The organization is a local branch of the International Association of Firefighters, which boasts some 331,000 members in firefighting and paramedics across the United States and Canada.

In a statement, SFCFF President John O’Brien cited Perez’s successful battle against stage 4 follicular lymphoma as evidence Perez has the backbone and determination to deliver for residents and emergency personnel while serving in Tallahassee.

“The South Florida Council of Firefighters is proud to endorse Janelle Perez in her Florida state senatorial campaign as she seeks to represent the 38th District,” O’Brien said. “Circumstances have already proven (she is) remarkably equipped with a fighting drive; and, if elected, (we) have no doubt that she will bring that fighting spirit to the Florida state Senate on behalf of our members and the constituents of District 38.”

The nod from the SFCFF joins a passel of other trade groups and unions backing Perez, including the Communications Workers of America, Fraternal Order of Police, Dade County Medical Association, AFSCME Florida, United Teachers of Dade, South Florida AFL-CIO, and SEIU.

“I am honored to have support from the brave men and women of the South Florida Council of Firefighters who serve and protect when we need them most,” Perez said. “Our first responders put their lives on the line to keep us safe, and I will always have their backs when it comes to safety, pay, resources, and more.”

Perez is a co-owner of her family’s Coral Gables-based managed care company, Doctors HealthCare Plans Inc. If elected, she would be the first openly gay woman to serve in the Senate.

She faces Republican Alexis Calatayud, a former director of programs and policy with the Florida Department of Education who twice served as outgoing Miami Rep. Vance Aloupis’ campaign manager.

Both are first-time candidates and have received numerous endorsements from current and former elected officials in their respective parties.

Perez counts Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book, Sen. Annette Taddeo, Reps. Kevin Chambliss and Nick Duran, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, and Miami-Dade Commissioners Eileen Higgins and Danielle Cohen Higgins are among her backers.

Calatayud, meanwhile, has support from Aloupis, outgoing Senate President Wilton Simpson, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, and Sens. Ben Albritton and Ana Maria Rodriguez, among others.

Organizational backers of Calatayud’s campaign include Associated Industries of Florida, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the South Florida Police Benevolent Association, and the Florida East Coast chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors.

Perez holds a marked money advantage. Since filing for public office in September 2021, she has raised more than $950,000. Of that, she had nearly $400,000 remaining on Oct. 1.

Calatayud launched her campaign for state office this past May and raised $523,000. She had roughly $253,000 left at the beginning of this month.

SD 38, which covers several coastal municipalities in South Miami-Dade, leans Democratic. Biden won the district by seven percentage points in 2020, according to election data specialist Matt Isbell of MCI Maps.

The General Election is on Nov. 8. Early voting runs from Oct. 24 through Nov. 6.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.

One comment

  • Paul Passarelli

    October 12, 2022 at 3:39 pm

    Someone needs to explain to my how her cancer status helps qualify her for elected office? If anything the fact that she made it to stage 4 means that her chances of not surviving her term are ~10%.

    That aside, her association with the various (Democratic shill organizations) AFSCME Florida, United Teachers of Dade, South Florida AFL-CIO, and SEIU, etc, brings here credential as a ‘moderate’ Democrat into question.

    I recommend people look at

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