Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Dudley Randall Biography - A Poet from an Early Age to Ferrol Sams Jr Biography » Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: 1952—: U.S. Congressional Representative Biography - Quickly Adapted To New Country, Won First Election, Took On More Controversial Issues

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: 1952—: U.S. Congressional Representative - Won First Election

cuban american democratic florida

By the time Ros-Lehtinen had retired from the Eastern Academy she already had entered politics. She inherited her interest in politics from her father, who has been described as the mastermind of her political career, but she took naturally to the backslapping world of politics on her own and as of 2003 has never lost an election. Elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1982, she spent four years there and then won election to the state senate in 1986. There she gained not only political contacts but also a husband: fellow legislator Dexter Lehtinen was a Miami lawyer who served as U.S. attorney for south Florida during the administration of President George H.W. Bush. The couple raised two children of their own as well as two children from Lehtinen's previous marriage, and RosLehtinen's parents, who lived across the street, were there to help out as she juggled motherhood and her rising career trajectory.

Ros-Lehtinen's breakthrough to the national level came in 1989 with the death of longtime Democratic Rep. Claude Pepper. Both the Democratic and Republican primaries to replace Pepper in an 18th district special election were hotly contested, and Ros-Lehtinen emerged as the opponent of Democratic lawyer Gerald Richman. The ensuing campaign was marked by charges of racism on both sides, as Republicans stressed the importance of electing a Cuban candidate while Richman retorted that the seat in Congress should be regarded as an "American seat" rather than as one belonging to any particular group. Ros-Lehtinen won the election with 53 percent of the vote, gaining an overwhelming majority of the Cuban-American vote but losing heavily among Anglo- and African-American voters. After taking her place in Congress in 1989 she made gestures of reconciliation and was reelected easily in subsequent contests.

During her years in the state legislature, Ros-Lehtinen had moved from a focus on the Cuba issue to the nuts and bolts of constituent service, and in Congress she worked on a mix of national, international, and local issues. She continued to resist any weakening of the U.S. government's anti-Castro policies, emerging as a strong supporter of the Helms-Burton Act (which slapped penalties on companies that traded with the Cuban regime) and leading an ultimately successful drive to block construction of a Cuban nuclear reactor. In 2000 Ros-Lehtinen found herself in the thick of the controversy over six-year-old Cuban Elian Gonzalez, who became the object of a tug-of-war between his Florida relatives and his father in Cuba after a boat carrying him and his mother sank; Elian was rescued after his mother was killed.

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almost 6 years ago

HEllo Ileana,

I have entered your website looking for help in regard of my sister's current health condition. ON 2010, my sister had opened back surgery to fixed a condition called spondylosis lumbar. Fortunately, surgery went fine besides adversities and lack of sources in the country.However, recovery has been a nightmare. The nails that were inserted in her back to fix her problem, got loose, and some how they are traveling in her body to the point that are about to hit the medula. If this horrendous event happens, she will be in a wheal chair for the rest of her life. This is a devastared thought and an unbearable feeling, considering that she is only 34 and a mother of two young children, 7 and 12. To correct such a big problem, she will need to be exposed to a mandatory second surgery. However, the hospital that goverment allowes her to use for the procedure, is currently closed because it is serving as shelter for people infected with meningo desease. Not only she will have to wait for indefinite time, but also with no hope whatsoever, since every day, her condition worsen and pain alone is hard to live in. I am desperate and do not know what avenue to take, to be honest. I would like to bring her here, with the hope of having surgery in USA. I have been here for almost 14 years and know how expensive this can be. I am even thinking about a raising campaing, or a public add, IDK, something that enables my mom and myself to cover the cost. I am a hardworker and like many americans, imigrants live on paychecks. I believe I will be succesful raising the money, and will do whatever it takes, of course, in an honest and decent manner to protect her from the worst. I am very spirited and look after her well being. The worst problem we are facing now is, how we are going to do bring her to the country. ANd that's why i need your help, or at at least, a reference of who could be able to help me with her coming to the country. THank you so much for your time and your fellow associates. Look forward to hearing from you.
Best Regards,

Grisel Arias
419 Roseland Drive
West Palm Beach, FL 33405