An interview with Palm Beach Young Dems Policy Chair Alex Heathcock
By: Alex Ayala
You’re from Miami, Florida. What is your favorite thing about your hometown?
I really loved the sense of community in my Abuela’s old neighborhood--I have very fond memories of gathering with the other neighborhood kids in my Abuela’s cul-de-sac and playing outside all day until sundown. I’m very thankful I was able to get exposure to the strong Cuban-American culture in Miami from a very young age. While the city continues to develop and grow, it’s comforting for me to know that I can still drive down to Sergio’s on Coral Way and pick up a cafecito and croquetas, just like I would when I was younger.
What made you decide to get involved in politics?
I actually fell into politics randomly. I had always been involved in Student Government in middle school and high school, but never figured I would pursue politics as a potential career path. Initially, I wanted to be a journalist when I went to college---and I didn’t want to cover politics, I wanted to cover fashion. During a particular rough patch my sophomore year of college, a friend of mine who was a field organizer for President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012 reached out to me about volunteering on the campaign. As they say, the rest is history. I loved the high-stakes thrill of working on campaigns, and more importantly loved meeting new people and hearing about what issues mattered to them the most.
Everyone knows you are a huge “Hamilton” fan. What is your favorite song from the soundtrack?
This answer changes at least once every four or so months. Right now, I’m on a serious “Burn” kick. I also love “Wait for It” and “Guns and Ships.”
Everyone knows you are obsessed with podcasts, namely Crooked Media podcasts. Who is your favorite Pod Save America team member?
Well, this question is easy--it’s a dead three-way tie between Lucca, Leo, and Pundit.
Although you’re still enrolled in school at FIU, you attended school in Pittsburgh initially for three years. Where was your favorite place to go to in Pittsburgh?
Even though I have no intention of moving back, Pittsburgh will always hold a very special place in my heart. Some of my favorite go-to spots when I was living up there were Schenley Park/Panther Hollow Trail for a run; PNC Park to catch a Pirates game; William Penn Tavern for kitchen sink wings; or Lawrenceville in general. One of my favorite things about Pittsburgh is that there are incredible things to explore in every corner of the city, if you give yourself time to do it. It is a magical city, and it’s hard not to fall in love when you first take a glance at that skyline from PNC Park or Mount Washington.
What is your favorite alcoholic beverage?
An old fashioned.
In your opinion, where can one find the best old fashioned in Palm Beach County?
At 215 speakeasy, made by Vincent, 123 Datura, or at Park Tavern!
What is the strangest/funniest way you’ve been asked out on a date?
So I actually have two funny/weird stories to share. The first, a guy once asked me out on a date by throwing a napkin at me from across a bar. I looked over angrily at him, and he made a gesture as though he wanted me to open up the napkin. I did--on the napkin he wrote, “Lick your elbow if you are not interested in going on a date with me. Smile if you are.” It was a little aggressive, but creative, I guess.
The second, I was at a fraternity event and one of the brothers tried to ask me out by singing “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen to me. This was about two weeks after the song first came out, and I hadn’t heard it yet. I thought he was singing a song off of a Kidz Bop album. I had no choice but to run away as quickly as possible.
What is your favorite cuisine?
I love all types--Cuban, French, Italian, Japanese, and Mexican are some of my favorites.
If you could have one food from said cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Since I listed a lot of cuisines, I’ll just list two items--Cuban coffee and gnocchi.
Where is your favorite stop for Cuban coffee in Palm Beach County?
Delicias Cuban Bakery! Guys, it’s the most unassuming place because it’s quite literally inside of a gas station, but trust me—they have the BEST cafe con leche and croquetas.
For a car ride jam out session with friends, what are five of your go-to songs?
“Hey Ya!” by Outkast, “September” by Earth Wind and Fire, “Africa” by Toto, “Feeling This” by Blink-182, and “All These Things That I’ve Done” by The Killers.
What is your favorite song lyric?
“Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix”--my heart opens to the sound of your voice-- from “I Belong to You” by Muse.
Any YDs know that both yourself and VP Alex are big Taylor Swift fans. What Taylor Swift music video is your favorite?
“Blank Space”, of course! I’ve actually been to the mansion where the music video was filmed. I also loved the “Delicate” music video.
What is your favorite TV show?
Parks and Recreation or The Office. Also a huge Game of Thrones and Westworld fan.
What is your favorite quote from said TV show?
“If I seem too passionate, it’s because I care. If I come on strong, it’s because I feel strongly. And if I push too hard, it’s because things aren’t moving fast enough.”
And of course…
“If I can’t scuba, what’s this all been about? What am I working towards?”
Which character do you think you’re most like on that TV show?
Somewhere between Leslie and Ann from Parks and Recreation. I can be very high strung and Type A, but definitely do not have as much energy as Leslie does.
What is your favorite movie?
I have an ever-changing top 10 list, but Almost Famous always tends to stay at the top of that list.
What is your favorite scene from a movie?
The “Tiny Dancer” bus scene from Almost Famous, and the Griffith Observatory scene from La La Land.
What is your favorite movie franchise?
I’m a huge Harry Potter and Star Wars nerd! I’ve also really started getting into the Marvel movies.
Everyone knows hiking is one of your hobbies--where would your dream hike be?
This is probably not the first location people think of when it comes to hiking, but I would love an opportunity someday to hike in the Swat Valley region of Pakistan. Hiking in the Alps in Northern Italy is also on my list. In addition, I would like to complete at least one hike in every U.S. national park. I recently went to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, and I think the next parks I want to hit are Yosemite, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Glacier, Crater Lake, and Olympic.
We also know you’re a big runner and have completed three half marathons. What race would you consider to be your dream race (5k, 10k, half, full)?
I definitely would like to do a half marathon in a US national park. I also would like to run the New York City Half Marathon, the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia, and both the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Half Marathons. Eventually, I’d like to work up to being able to run a full marathon--but I’m still a few years away from hitting that goal.
Who is someone that inspires you in local politics and why?
My boss, of course--Michelle McGovern! She is so full of passion and energy and loves what she does. She is amazing at supporting and helping out those that she loves. I’ve never seen someone quite go out of her way for others like Michelle does. She’s not only my boss, but she’s THE boss. She is great at what she does because she puts so much passion and love forth towards her job, her family, her friends--everything!
Where can we find you hanging out on the weekends?
Probably on a running trail somewhere, at the gym, a bookstore, or at a coffee shop studying--I’m still in school, so weekends are usually my homework/study time. I also like to take little weekend trips to different cities around FL sometimes or to cool hiking spots out of state.
What is something people don't know about you?
I throw way too many pop culture references/movie and TV quotes into everyday conversation. Gabe from The Office would hate me. (Oh, look, another pop culture reference.) I also put an insane amount of hot sauce on all of my food. If you ever ask to split a dish with me, I’m sorry—it’s probably going to get drowned in Cholula or Sriracha.
Which sports teams do you support?
Well, I was a Pittsburgh Pirates fan--not a great move trading McCutchen to San Francisco. #stillbitter
Where is your favorite place that you’ve traveled to?
I was lucky enough to be taken on a trip to France by my aunt and uncle when I was fifteen. I’ve been completely enchanted with Paris ever since. There is also something so stunningly magical about the American West. I completely fell in love with Montana and Wyoming this past summer, and have always adored traveling to Colorado and Arizona. I also had an amazing experience in Guatemala and Lake Atitlan.
Where would you like to travel to in the future?
Everywhere? Seriously though, some of my top destinations include South Africa, Morocco, Slovenia, India, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Japan, Italy, Croatia, and Scotland. I also hope to hit every major U.S. national park in my lifetime and attend a game at every MLB stadium in the country.
Which fictional place do you wish you could travel to?
Despite the fact that Pottermore has repeatedly sorted me into Gryffindor, I am adamant that I am a Ravenclaw at heart.
….I also realize that my stubbornness may be why I was sorted into Gryffindor.
What issues are you passionate about in our current political climate?
Gender equality, U.S./Cuba relations, finding political and economic opportunities for women to thrive worldwide, and ending sexual violence.
Construct your perfect meal, using only dishes from Palm Beach County restaurants.
The gnocchi appetizer from City Cellar, pierogies from The Butcher Shop, the Cajun burger from the Seafood Bar at the Breakers or the spicy burger from The Brass Ring, buffalo garlic wings from the Brass Ring, mac and cheese (with lots of hot sauce!) from Howley’s, and the skillet cookie dessert from HMF at the Breakers.
Who is someone (dead or alive) you would love to sit down to dinner with, and where would you choose to go to dinner with that person?
Amal Clooney. I truly respect her and actually wanted to go to law school to practice international law for a little while. I appreciate all the work she is doing for the Yazidi people with her client, Nadia Murad, and for working to release Khadija Ismayilova and call out free speech/human rights violations in Azerbaijan. She seems like such a fascinating and remarkable woman, and I would love to hear some of her stories of her travels and various cases she’s worked on.
What do you see yourself doing in five years?
I hopefully see myself living in D.C., Philadelphia, or New York City, either working for a nonprofit, in public affairs, or in foreign policy for the State Department/United Nations, while traveling a lot.
Do you ever want to run for office?
I get asked this a lot, and my inclination is to say no. I’m a pretty introverted person, and I like working behind the scenes more on the policy side. I also don’t think that I should make “running for office” a general goal just because I work in politics. I want to encourage and bolster people to run for office who come from different backgrounds who may have not have thought about public service otherwise, on top of encouraging my incredible friends who do work in politics to run!
What is the most important life lesson you’ve learned at 25?
Do not beg people to support or love you. I’ve been in too many situations in the past where I’ve tried to make things work with other people, jamming two puzzle pieces that don’t fit together out of sheer stubbornness or due to the fact that I didn’t have enough knowledge of my self-worth to walk away from situations that were toxic or not beneficial to me. I still struggle with it sometimes, but you should never waste your time and energy on people who won’t help and support you, and at the very least don’t see your potential.