John Paul Alvarez lives for the look in a student's eye that shows he or she gets it. At Stirling Elementary School in Hollywood, the baby-faced teacher is known for working well with troubled third-graders.
Perhaps it's because he recognizes himself in them. Alvarez grew up in Miami, just south of the airport, as the son of two Cuban immigrants who made their way over to Florida in the '60s. Although his parents opened a sandwich shop downtown, it floundered after a few years, leaving them to work a series of what Alvarez remembers as "the bad jobs, the hard jobs."
But now Alvarez, a Democrat, is asking for South Floridians' permission to take on a hard job his parents could have never dreamed of. He wants to serve as District 100's state rep and prioritize women's rights, LGBT rights, and education. If granted his wish, he'll also be making history as Broward County's first openly gay state rep. The district stretches south to Hollywood, Hallandale, Sunny Isles, Aventura and North Miami Beach.