Baez resigned days before pleading guilty to a misdemeanor perjury charge for lying about her address on a voter-registration form.
Fernandez, a real estate attorney who practices in the areas of land use and zoning, real estate, and state and local government advocacy, joined Holland & Knight’s government advocacy and development group in January. He said the firm’s policy is that lawyers who choose to run for office must resign.
Fernandez said he has not yet finalized whether he will work as a solo practitioner or for a different firm after his last day at Holland & Knight. Before joining the firm, he was a shareholder with Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson.
His last day at Holland & Knight is Friday.
Fernandez said he had become involved with the New Leaders Counsel over the last few years and through that network met members of the Florida Democratic Party’s House Victory group, who approached him to run for Baez’s former seat.
“I decided that if there was a time where I was going to do this, now was the right time,” Fernandez said. “It’s an incredibly important seat for the Democratic Party to retain. It’s the only seat that stands between a Republican supermajority in the house. If we’re going to move Florida in a different direction, this is the time to step up and throw my hat into the ring.”
Fernandez said he is running on four major issues11: the cost of health and home insurance premiums, concern about traffic and the need to expand downtown transportation, and the need for affordable workforce housing.
Fernandez, whose Holland & Knight website bio describes his practice in land use and zoning law, real estate, government contract procurement and government advocacy and development, said he doesn’t believe his practice will conflict with his work in the Florida House.
“I’ve never sought local office because the work I do is very local,” Fernandez said. “This is a good opportunity to serve and hopefully avoid those types of conflicts.”
Fernandez and his wife, Dr. Anna Maria Patino-Fernandez, live in South Miami with their two children.
A special primary election for the District 114 seat has been called for May 1 after the special primary election Feb. 20. The candidate filing deadline is Dec. 28.