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Communist Regime Didn't Stop School Board Candidate from Pursuit of Happiness

PASCO – If there is anyone who can appreciate life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it's someone who has lived under the thumb of an oppressive communist regime. Just 90 miles off the coast of Miami, Florida is one such dictatorship that has committed untold numbers of human rights violations against its own people. According to the U.S. Department of State, Cuba's Raul Castro and his late brother Fidel are responsible for numerous arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of political dissidents, detainees, and prisoners, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, arbitrary arrests, and the list goes on and on.

Candidate for Pasco Count School Board Al Hernandez is a Cuban immigrant who fled the communist regime as a teenager to seek refuge in the United States. Hernandez knows first-hand what the Castro family does to those who want to leave Cuba, especially those who are important to the Government. "My Father was a doctor in Cuba. Unfortunately, everybody that works for the government is part of the government. When he [His Father] decided he wanted to leave the country they put him in jail, and we didn't know where he was for two years. I didn't know if he was alive or dead," says Hernandez. This terrifying experience is what gave Hernandez the drive to want to succeed in the United States.

After graduating high school in Miami, Florida, Hernandez earned an Associates in Arts from Miami-Dade Community College; earned a Bachelor's of Business Management from Nova Southeastern University; and a Master's in International Business and Finance from the very same University. Hernandez has gone on to work as a healthcare executive for the last 25 years.

Hernandez moved to Pasco County in 2014 and was appointed by then-Governor Rick Scott as a trustee to Pasco-Hernando State College (PHSC). Scott later appointed Hernandez to the Pasco County Housing Authority as a Commissioner.

I asked Hernandez why he decided to run for the School Board, and he said, "I saw that there was a need to engage at the school district. Seeing the kids, how they are coming in, I thought that we can do much better." Hernandez wasn't overly critical of the current condition of the District, but he noticed things that he said could be done better. "There are kids out there that college is not for them and that's okay. So, I see the need for creating more trade schools, because we don't have enough of it in this county," says Hernandez. He continued, "We are growing by leaps and bounds and will continue to grow, and we really need to work very closely with county, the Sheriff, and the colleges, because it is all intertwined. We have to create the right job environment, so that we can have the next electrical and mechanical engineers, and plumbers. That's why I also highly endorse the law enforcement academy at PHSC." Hernandez says his son and daughter both graduated from PHSC and went on to attend other State Universities.

Hernandez is a staunch opponent of allowing politics to influence students and says, "In my mind there is no business of politics being in the classroom. I came from a place where I was indoctrinated as a kid and there is no place for indoctrination in the schools." He goes on to say, "If we remove that [politics] from their environment, I believe kids can focus on the fundamentals of education and get back to basics."

Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed into law a Financial Literacy Bill that would require high school students to take a financial literacy course to receive a diploma. Hernandez applauds the Governor's action but says he would like to see children in middle school take a similar course. "Kids today don't even know how to balance a check book. We need to teach them what an interest rate is, what the impact is, and what the long-term implications are," says Hernandez.

Hernandez beat the odds and gives all the credit to a country that afforded him an equal opportunity to achieve his goals. "I love this country; I love this country so much. We have the ability to give our children that passion; that desire to look at America the way I look at America. If I can do it and live the American Dream, then so can anyone of our children."

Al Hernandez is running for Pasco County School Board District 1. Follow this link for more information about his campaign: http://www.alhernandez.org


Reader Comments(1)

Nancy writes:

Well, the election is over and you, Mr. Hernandez, I am proud to say, you are one of our Pasco County School Board members. I had never read your history before I voted for you, but after reading this article, I am so proud that I did vote for you. You are the embodiment of the type of person that should be leading our children. Without them, we have no future. Good luck to you. My only regret is that we couldn't put more like you on the board.

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