SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. – When Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed the incumbent state representative for a strip of unincorporated southwest Miami-Dade County to be the Miami -Dade County clerk of court and comptroller, a special election was necessary to fill a vacant seat in District 118 left by Juan Fernandez-Barquin.
With Florida’s questionable past with shill and planted candidates put in races to fake out voters, Local 10 Investigates wanted to speak with Francisco “Frank” De La Paz who, according to a Division of Elections timestamp, showed that he filed his intent to run four minutes after the Democratic candidate did.
We had a hard time finding anything to do with De La Paz’s campaign. He has no website and we were unable to locate his photograph on the internet.
Local 10′s This Week In South Florida hosted Mike Redondo, the Republican candidate, and Johnny Farias, the Democrat, on the Sunday politics show on Aug. 20. De La Paz didn’t join the discussion.
Local 10 Investigates set out to visit the candidate.
The retired builder, a former community council member with deep connections in South Florida politics, is passionate, he says, about neighborhood input into affordable housing.
As an independent, he says he’ll be able to compromise and reach both sides of the aisle.
While he now has no party affiliation, he was previously a Republican. He says he knows well that in past elections, no-party candidates were actually Republican recruits meant to dilute the Democratic vote.
We asked him if he was a “spoiler.”
“No, I am not a spoiler nor would I ever play that card.”
We asked De La Paz if anyone had asked him to run or, perhaps, paid him.
“Nobody can ask me. No one can pay me.”
He lists his net worth as $150,000 and plans to spend $10,000 on his campaign.
We questioned him on why he didn’t have any contributors.
“I’m planning to fund it myself,” he said, adding that he could have contributors. “It’s just I don’t want to commit myself to having to sell my soul.”
The election is Dec. 5.
District 118 includes Goulds, Kendall, Sunset and South Miami Heights in a predominantly Hispanic district.
With four months to go, it will be up to voters to be careful and responsible to research and know who is the person getting their vote.