Martha Bueno is a libertarian who doesn’t have much faith in government. Yet she is running for the Miami-Dade commission in Kendall. She believes present commissioners are doing too much “under the table” at county hall, and it’s hurting the people.
“This is how corrupt they are, that they are our neighbors, they live in our neighborhood, they make decisions for us and they are selling us out for peanuts,” says Bueno, 43. “It’s upsetting, but after finding out things like this, how can I not run?”
Bueno has always been precocious. Twenty-two years ago, Bueno became pregnant and started an artificial insemination company with her parents. She created several other firms before discovering a passion for politics. Five years ago she was elected vice-chair of the libertarian party in Miami-Dade. Now after serving for four years as vice-chair, she became chair of the community council of West Kendall. Bueno has an uphill battle against Anthony Rodriguez, a Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives.
Since 1993 Javier D. Souto has been the District 10 commissioner. This year he and several other commissioners are term-limited. The seat represents areas such as Tropical Park, Olympia Heights and Sweetwater – and features two main streets, Bird Road and Miller Drive.
After her father escaped Cuba as a political prisoner, Bueno was born and raised in Miami, knowing her family’s sacrifices. Surrounded by a community with similar family backgrounds, Bueno never felt alone in Miami-Dade.
“In Miami, that’s not a unique story.” She said, “Everybody in Miami has a story like mine.”
Bueno was raised between South Florida and Venezuela. After going back and forth in her youth, Bueno spent six years in Venezuela before moving back in 1995. Her father started one of Venezuela’s first artificial insemination companies for cattle, which would lead to her and her parents founding Florida Genetic Center, Inc. soon after returning to the United States
After graduating from Coral Park Senior High, Bueno started FIU as a psychology major. At 21 she had her first child of four. Having to support a baby, she moved in with her grandfather to support him and herself financially. Around the same time she created two e-tailers, Vetamerica and Pure Formulas. In 2021, Pure Formulas made a total of $36.4 million in revenue.
“I just wanted enough to be able to pay my bills,” said Martha. “That little business that started on a table grew in a year after creating it.”
According to Inc. Magazine, PureFormulas ranked 97th among the 500 fastest-growing companies in the U.S. in 2011. As an entrepreneur, Bueno soon discovered that her path was about to change. She was divorced from her husband in 2016 and left him the companies they had worked on together. Then she discovered politics.
In 2016, Bueno joined the libertarian party. She says she wanted to understand how less government can provide more civil liberties. She became passionate about the party’s platform and soon was chosen as vice-chair. In 2021, she was elected as chair of her community council, which makes decisions on zoning, traffic and land development in West Kendall. In both of these roles, she prioritized the needs of the people by listening to problems with an open mind.
“We’ve granted almost all of the people’s personal wants,” says Bueno, “not all the big things, but if you need an extra bathroom in a church or an extra sign for your business, yes those always we say yes.”
Bueno is a mother of four children and is hoping to improve the city of Miami so that her own kids can succeed here one day. Although she maintains a close relationship with her children, Bueno explained that they don’t like to be a part of her political life.
“My kids are older and they were like, ‘Yeah, mom, we don’t want people to know who we are. It’ll affect us at school,’” says Bueno.
Former friends and colleagues of Bueno emphasize that she tackles every single problem with hopes of a solution. Instead of avoiding issues, Bueno is honest about her role in politics.
Esteban Hernandez is a journalist and the host of Contra Poder 3.0 on YouTube. Hernandez met Bueno while trying to find a third voice when talking about bipartisan politics. After interviewing her multiple times and becoming friends with Bueno, Hernandez learned that Bueno was different from other politicians he has met in the past.
“Whatever you see is what she is,” said Hernandez. “She is just really honest.”
According to Hernadez, Bueno also donates food and aid to Cuba. “She wasn’t born in Cuba. So you could say she doesn’t have the need to be doing this type of work and she does it. She cares about the community,” says Hernandez.
With the upcoming midterm elections, Bueno is running with a platform of “less is more.” She is prioritizing transportation, property taxes, housing, and most important to her, giving more power to her constituents. She is trying to be a greater part of local government to try and make the county commission to be more accountable.
“I think the biggest voice that one has on this commission is to be able to talk and start a debate so you can stop a vote,” said Bueno. “I want them to have to say why they’re voting for it. I want to hold people accountable.”
Marialexanda Garcia, who was the chair of the libertarian party of Miami-Dade alongside Bueno, has always seen her best friend as extremely outspoken and stubborn when it comes to her moral beliefs. Garcia explained that she and Bueno have seen things in local politics that they believe are immoral, but are afraid for Bueno and her safety when she calls people out.
“She is not afraid of calling people out when they do things that aren’t right,” said Garcia. “She’s gonna call out somebody for taking a bribe. She’s gonna call somebody out for using government funds, which is our money, our tax dollars to do something, to benefit themselves instead of who it’s supposed to benefit — that’s who she’s gonna call out”
Garcia revealed that she fears the consequences of Bueno’s candidness against Miami-Dade politicians. “She’s actually gotten warned a few times about being so outspoken,” said Garcia. “She’s gotten a few threats, very indirect at the moment, but she’s gotten them because she’s so outspoken.”
Bueno emphasizes that a huge issue within Miami-Dade is the disconnect between commissioners in regards to transportation or complex issues like cryptocurrency. Bueno believes experts should be put in charge of decision-making and not a board of people who don’t know enough about the subject.
“I don’t know if the government is the right place for this and people who don’t build to be the ones making the decisions like as a commissioner, I’ll be able to change the rules,” says Bueno. ”Why? I don’t know how to build, why is it my purview to do those things? Why shouldn’t it be the professional organizations that know what they’re doing?”
Bueno is attempting to make local government more important to the people of South Florida. Many local residents are not aware of who their commissioner is and the types of decisions they’re making. Bueno believes trouble can arise from arbitrary voting.
“People don’t pay attention to this. So that’s the part that gets to me” says Bueno. “Commissioner Javier Souto has been in the seat for 30 years. I hadn’t even started high school when he got elected to the seat, how much has happened? And is he the right person to sit in a seat for 30 years and make decisions?”
Bueno is preparing for a David vs Goliath battle on election day, August 23. According to Voter Focus, Bueno has raised $20,000 in monetary contributions while Rodriguez has raised $323,000. With an opponent like Rodriguez who is a Republican and has a much larger campaign fund, Bueno is hoping that her honesty and good intentions can spread her name and win the seat. Although Bueno emphasizes that she will only participate in politics for a few more years, the time she will spend as a politician will not be a waste.
“I’m not saying that I’m gonna change the world, but at least I can create awareness,” said Bueno. “What I hope to accomplish is to inspire so many people to run for the seat so that I can retire from politics in four years.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect date for the election. It is August 23.