Group 5: Jonathan Welsh

Jonathan Welsh

Group 5


Marketing manager, Care Resource Community Health Centers

Member, Miami Beach Human Rights Committee and Anti-Bullying Task Force

This post is part of our voter guide for the Nov. 5 local elections. Head to the main landing page for a guide to some other key races.

Commission seats in Miami Beach are at-large positions, so the groups don’t represent any particular neighborhood or section of the city.

This interview has been lightly edited. Welsh’s opponents are Ricky Arriola, Stephen Cohen and Raquel Pacheco.

What would your top 3 priorities be as commissioner?

It is time to commit to transportation transformation and further embrace opportunities to make transit better. I emphatically support the idea of a public/private partnership to bring the monorail project that links with Miami Downtown, Virgin Trains/Brightline, and the Miami International Airport.

With thousands of photos shared instantly of every nook and cranny of our city worldwide from visitors and residents alike on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and other sites come a great need and opportunity for beautification. I support working together to create a picturesque behind-the-scenes by creating a “Green-Alley” initiative that improves the visual appeal block by block. It will bring neighbors together, create community, and further highlight the historic Deco neighborhood, North Beach, and more. It puts the city’s best foot forward to the world.

Miami Beach needs to strengthen its brand so that sophisticated travelers continue to spend time and money in Miami Beach. It has taken a hit. That comes with saying yes and no to events that bring sustainable tourism. My approach moving forward is to have candid conversations with event producers from around the globe that can strengthen our sophisticated brand. Starting with asking the question, “Does this event achieve a short term goal while strengthening our long term cultural legacy?” Our hospitality industry needs “heads in beds,” but there is often an untold price that comes if we do not culturally curate our events to create smart tourism. I want to expand upon our legacy events to build our city as a destination via international innovation, technology, and cultural exchange.

What does a resilient and sustainable city look like to you?

Miami Beach has seen the costs of decades of inaction on sea level rise first hand from flooded streets, damaged infrastructure, and crushing losses for small businesses. Some stores are looking to shift some of their revenue opportunities to be online, or opening in other locations that are not in a flood zone. In response, a series of emergency actions were presented to our community with the choices to either protect and preserve the local economy or sacrifice the health of Biscayne Bay.

We must make sure combating sea level rise does not come at the expense and health of our bay. As Miami Beach commissioner, I will work to implement Miami Beach’s aggressive Stormwater Master Plan that both protects property and natural resources, by incorporating the following changes:

-Filters for water pump stations

-Regular testing for bay water quality and turbidity levels made publicly available on the city website

-Preservation of sea-grass beds and corals

-Review the maximum rate of floodwater discharged into the bay deemed to be safe

Millions of our precious corals, a vital component of our marine ecosystem, are perishing at an alarming rate. According to Science Direct’s “Marine Pollution Bulletin, sediment covered 50–90 percent of adjacent reefs, 560,000 corals within 0.5 km of the channel were lost due to dredging and dredging has impacted corals and reef habitat at least 2.5 km and possibly greater than 10 km away.

If sea level rises to suppress property valuations, there will be less public money to address the risk. It is wise to accelerate investments in storm-water drainage improvements now. There is a tax base to afford it now—something that one may not necessarily be able to count on in the future.

We must not be doom and gloom about flooding. There is hope when there’s momentum to change.

What will you do to increase transparency and accountability for public officials?

Below is what I will do to further transparency:

Continuous innovation and sustainability. I will actively seek out good ideas that have a lasting, positive impact on our community, work, and environment. Constant encouragement of inclusion and diversity. I recognize and respect a variety of perspectives, experiences and approaches that will help me achieve the City’s goals. Continuous public service and engagement. I will partner with our community to provide the best service possible. Continuous accountability. I will take responsibility for achieving results and holding myself accountable.

What steps should Miami Beach take to combat homelessness?

I will look into the zoning of homeless pods. They keep the homeless safe overnight and out of alleys. This temporary solution is one to help move off the street and into longer term housing solutions.

How the city takes services to the homeless is the key to solving homelessness, rather than expecting people to navigate complex systems.

What does responsible development look like in Miami Beach?

A development strategy that echoes the values of integrity, accountability, and respect for all individuals as well as for the environment.

How do you think areas like Washington Avenue and Lincoln Road should address their vacancies and lost businesses?

I want to expand upon our legacy events to build our city as a destination international innovation, technology, and cultural exchange. We have the opportunity to shape the destiny for our “city of the future.” It begins with smarter tourism and diversification of the economy. 2019 marks a pivotal point in moving the needle to make smarter decisions to say yes to a new type of economy focusing on attracting international businesses, entrepreneurs, and making Miami Beach a destination for innovation, not just stimulation.

Do you support the latest Baylink proposals to connect Miami and Miami Beach?

Yes. It is time for my generation to lead the charge of transportation transformation.

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