Speaking before a group of Democratic leaders in Florida’s Miami-Dade County on Zoom last week, Miami Beach city commission candidate Kristen Rosen Gonzalez made her pitch as to why the party should endorse her.

She called herself “the most high-profile Hispanic Democrat in the city of Miami Beach.” Not endorsing her, she continued, “would be upsetting and confusing” for constituents.

But Rosen Gonzalez is not Hispanic.

The 48-year-old picked up the latter name after she married Emilio Gonzalez. They divorced in 2009, according to WFOR, which first reported on the video.

“It is being reported that I have called myself Hispanic. Clearly, I misspoke,” Rosen Gonzalez said in a text message to The Washington Post. “I deeply apologize to anyone that was offended.”

She went on to point to her strong connections to the Hispanic community.

“I am proud of my children who are Hispanic, and I am proud to have kept my Hispanic married name,” she told The Post. “I am proud to speak Spanish fluently and am proud of the relationship I have built with the Miami Beach Hispanic community.

“Of course, none of that makes me Hispanic,” she added.

Rosen Gonzalez is running for her old spot on the Miami Beach city commission, which she held from 2015 to 2018. She resigned to run for U.S. Congress but lost in the Democratic primary. The city commission election is on Nov. 2, and she is running against four other candidates.

The Miami Beach Democrat has made headlines in the past. In 2016, Rosen Gonzalez lashed out at a fellow commissioner on Facebook who sponsored a bill that would require members to disclose their romantic relationships to avoid conflicts of interest in certain votes. Rosen Gonzalez, who was single, told the Miami New Times the ordinance was “so catty” and “obviously targeting me.”

The following year, Rosen Gonzalez used her city email address to urge police to stop investigating a campaign donor, the New Times reported. The man, a local arms dealer, was accused of wielding a machete, slashing nearly a dozen fire alarms in his apartment complex.

In 2019, Rosen Gonzalez noted prominently in a campaign email that she had undergone at least five investigations by the Florida Elections Commission and the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics since 2015, the Miami Herald reported. She compared her plight to that of high-profile leaders and scholars Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Galileo and Socrates.

Most recently, she promoted her new restaurant at the bottom of a July fundraising email, according to the Miami Herald.

“P. S. Have you been to Café Bernie yet?” she wrote. ” … [W]e have the best rib-eye ‘picadillo’ and short rib in town — not to mention a killer view of Indian Creek. Maybe I’ll see you there one day?”

Rosen Gonzalez has been known to play up her last name, Maria-Elena Lopez, the acting chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, told WFOR. More than half of Miami Beach residents are Hispanic.

“I honestly feel that is the purpose,” said Lopez, who was on last week’s Zoom call. “By keeping a Hispanic name, you are trying to confuse voters.”

Lopez said she and her fellow attendees were caught off-guard by Rosen Gonzalez’s claim of being “the most high-profile Hispanic Democrat in the city of Miami Beach.”

“We all went, ‘Wait, what did she just say?’ ” Lopez said.

Lopez added that just because Rosen Gonzalez was married to a Hispanic man, it “does not give you the right to say you are Hispanic.”

Rosen Gonzalez told WFOR that she is often “perceived as being Hispanic by all the Hispanics in my community.”

“I’m their girl,” she continued. “My last name is Hispanic. I know I’m not Hispanic.”

The chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, Robert Dempster, said he found the candidate’s comment “odd.”

“Especially given that the interview was on the second day of Hispanic Heritage Month,” he said.