A Dedicated Father and Public Servant

Joe Garcia has called South Florida home his entire life. Joe was born in 1963 at Mount Sinai Hospital to Joe Sr. and Carmen Garcia. Like many exiles that came to the United States seeking freedom and opportunity, Joe’s parents worked hard to get ahead. His dad washed cars at Miami International Airport while his mom waited tables at the Howard Johnson on Miami Beach. They didn’t have much money, but Joe’s parents instilled in him the values of hard work, love of country, treating others how you’d like to be treated, and faith in God.

With hard work and savings, Joe’s parents started a small business and helped put him and his brothers through school. Joe graduated from Belen Jesuit in 1982 and later attended Miami Dade Community College. With scholarships and the money he saved from cutting grass with his grandfather on the weekends, Joe transferred to the University of Miami, where he was elected student body president and graduated with a B.A. in political science and public affairs in 1987. Joe enrolled at UM Law the following year. As a law student, Joe worked nights and weekends as the director of the Exodus Project, a private humanitarian resettlement program. In 1998, Joe was blessed by the birth of his daughter, Gabi, at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Joe’s record of public service dates back more than two decades. In 1993, Governor Lawton Chiles appointed Joe to the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC), the state agency that regulates utilities. Serving under both Democratic and Republican governors, Joe made Florida’s families his top priority. He helped usher in the single largest energy rate cut in the state’s history, which meant lower monthly electric bills for Florida’s families. Upon leaving the PSC in 2000, Joe was named Executive Director of the Cuban American National Foundation, where he became one of the country’s leading advocates for human rights in Cuba.

In 2008, Joe came within a single-digit margin of defeating incumbent Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart. Proving himself to be a prolific fundraiser, Joe raised $1.8 million in the race. The following year, President Barack Obama selected Joe to lead the Office of Minority Economic Impact and Diversity at the U.S. Department of Energy. Joe oversaw the office’s mission to ensure minority participation at the Department and supported minority educational institutions through financial and community-development programs. Joe is now challenging incumbent Congressman David Rivera again for Florida’s new 26th congressional district.