In a ceremonial swearing-in of the Miami-Dade legislative delegation Monday morning, three Republican state senators promised the often-divided group would stick together during tight budget times in Tallahassee.
"As a team we can accomplish so very much for Miami-Dade County," said state Sen. Anitere Flores, who organized the event at Florida International University.
"For the first time in a long time, there will be unity, tranquility," added state Sen. Rene Garcia.
And from state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla: "We are going to be known in Tallahassee by our diligence, our work ethic, our unity."
Flores, who works at FIU, said it was the first time state lawmakers held a local ceremony, a symbolic gesture that showed the change of guard in a delegation full of freshmen that has long been known for its internal feuding factions. The event drew a who's who of South Florida officials, including Republican Congressman-elect David Rivera, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez and Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, among others.
FIU President Mark Rosenberg welcomed everyone to the ceremony and urged lawmakers to remember their constituents, particularly in public education, and to use their strength in numbers to fight perceived anti-South Florida sentiment in Tallahassee. "I would like to remind them to do your duty," he told them. "While we think that the bottom of the peninsula is the center of Florida...most elsewhere find it hard to remember who we are."