With voting underway in Florida, political action groups are ramping up efforts to mobilize the vote. 

Miami-based SAVE is one of those pacs.

“SAVE’s strategic position as a non-partisan LGBT organization propels our ability to garner the support from elected officials to promote pro-LGBT legislation at all levels of government,” said Executive Director Orlando Gonzalez. 

SAVE has endorsed 11 candidates for the Florida House of Representatives. In District 118, a Miami-Dade district, SAVE is endorsing Ricky Junquera

“For FL house race 118, we are proud and excited about Ricky Junquera’s candidacy as an openly gay person with great skill and experience who is ready to lead in the statehouse,” said Gonzalez.

Junquera, a Democrat, is attempting to unseat Rep. Anthony Rodriguez, a Republican, in this western Miami-Dade district. As a communications director for the Sierra Club, Junquera said he learned how to take meaningful action on environmental issues. He is considered an expert on coal plant issues. 

“I have worked with heavily-led Republican legislatures to pass policies and I have the professional skills to move Republican legislators on issues affecting our environment,” said Junquera in a telephone call on Friday afternoon. 

House District 118 is different from other Miami-Dade districts, said Junquera.

“This isn’t like running in Miami Beach or Brickell,” Junquera said. “I am running an authentic campaign as a gay male in one of the reddest parts of the county.”

The district, Junquera said, is 79% Hispanic and covers parts of Kendall, Tamiami, The Crossings and Country Walk. 

“It’s the working side of the city, where the workers live,” Junquera said.

Concerns in this district, Junquera said, include health care coverage with better outcomes, funding for public schools and good-paying jobs. Junquera said he looks forward to moving Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to act in a more responsible way by retraining workers and providing resources to people looking for new careers — something he has experience with in helping coal miners transition to better jobs in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. 

Junquera is critical of the governor’s plan to fully open the state during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Junquera said he disagreed with DeSantis’ decision to let the state’s moratorium on evictions and foreclosures expire.

Junquera said he feels good about his chances for election. His family lives in the district. His older sister is a member of the teacher’s union and Junquera helped “usher in'' the winning congressional campaigns of U.S. Congresswomen Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26) and Donna Shalala (FL-27). 

“I’ve been present,” he said on why voters should pick him. “I was born and raised in this community, I am the embodiment of my parents’ ‘American Dream.’”