Why are you running?
I’ve been a resident of Miami Beach for more than 21 years. My husband, Jose Alemán, and I are raising two young sons. I started my campaign to focus on the needs of Miami Beach residents. We have many problems to solve if we are to remain the best city in which to live, work, and raise a family. We are on the right track with flood control, the convention center renovation, and fixing our police force. The next issues to resolve include traffic congestion, parking, improving public transportation, and preparing our city for the future while preserving our history and iconic persona. All of these issues go to the heart of what our local City Commissioner must focus on: maintaining and improving our quality of life.
What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Miami Beach right now? What are some of the solutions you would propose?
1) Traffic & road congestion
Traffic and road congestion are having a negative impact on the quality of life in our community. All throughout Miami Beach, residents are isolating themselves and not fully enjoying our community and all it has to offer because they are frustrated with transportation and parking. Since my move to Miami Beach in 1994, parking was always an issue in South Beach, but those problems are now city-wide, and traffic has worsened. Meanwhile, public transportation options have been improved, such as the North Beach and South Beach trolley loops and the CitiBike system, but have not been able to keep pace with growth.
As a Commissioner I would support innovative transportation solutions for mass transit including buses, streetcars, rail, water taxis or other. I would encourage efforts to make Miami Beach safer for pedestrians and bicyclers city-wide, including completing the beach walk and bay walk projects, and protecting bike lanes from cars. My long term vision includes a rail link from the Miami International Airport to Miami Beach, with an intermodal connection to City mass transit connections to our convention center and hotel districts. I would seek to expand on the success of the trolleys by connecting North and South beach loops on the Eastern, Central and Western sides of the Mid-beach corridor, and add free WiFi and phone charging stations to the City trolleys.
Finally, Miami Beach should continue its support for Uber, Cars2Go and other innovative commercial solutions.
2) Sea-level rise
There is no issue as potentially devastating as sea level rise. The entire City of Miami Beach must be elevated over the next 50-75 years. The confidence of property investors, insurers and mortgagers must be maintained, as well as the confidence of residential and commercial property owners. When I was the PTA President at North Beach Elementary, I had numerous people ask me “So, when should we sell? When is this place going to go underwater?” Questions like that are the bleeding edge of negative speculation, and if investing in our community is perceived not to be worth the risk, we won’t be able to fund elevation projects. That being said, many residents are concerned about losing the unique character and charm of our historic architecture. As a City, we need to move forward with great care and prudence, so as to find a path that creates a better business case for historic preservation without excessively violating private property rights or greatly impairing property values. I would form a Blue Ribbon Panel or Task Force to create a “Residential Preservation Strategy,” and include experts in historic preservation, sea-level rise, architecture and design, and finance / insurance to work together to move this issue forward in an expedient manner.
If we gave you a $100 budget, how would you spend it?
Please share a few words about how you would tackle some of the following challenges:
Poverty and the low median wage: I would focus on improving access to, and quality of, education for all our residents including children and adults. Bilingual proficiency in English and Spanish is crucial for our residents today, regardless of which language is primarily spoken at home. I would emphasize STEM education (science engineering technology & math), as there are predicted to be 1 million more jobs than students by 2020, and in today’s High School Computer Science classes, only 8% are students of color, and only 15% are female. Exposure to Computer Science leads to some of the best paying jobs in the world, but 75% of our population is underrepresented.
The high cost of rent/real estate: I am not an expert yet on the specific solutions that we can implement, but as a Commissioner I would drive forward for solutions for workforce housing, housing for low-income senior citizens, and ways to encourage young adults and families to be able to live in Miami Beach.
Congestion and transit options: In addition to what I have already outlined above, we need to collaborate with large workforce employers to assist with identifying and implementing workforce transit solutions.
I would also like to see the City develop a single easy to use smart phone app that consolidates ALL transport options: rail, bus, trolley, CitiBike station so that it is easy for residents and visitors alike to go “multimodal:” walking, using water taxis, CitiBikes and other local mass transit to get to restaurants, businesses, beach and entertainment.
Climate change and environmental damage: Miami Beach is taking steps to address sea level rise and will be a leading costal community in dealing with the situation. In short, my position on Environment and Flooding issues are to:
1) Support the City’s present and future infrastructure investments and flood prevention plans to keep us dry and protect our property values.
2) Do our part to reverse humanity’s impact on global warming by supporting green initiatives at the municipal level.
One of the biggest accomplishments our Mayor and Commission have achieved has been to invest our city resources and create a plan to keep our streets dry. As a Commissioner, I would continue moving our city forward on this important plan for our future. As infrastructure is implemented we must be evaluate any environmental impact and strive for continuous improvement in our systems.
Our city has many green initiatives and environmental protection ordinances to help us do our part. For example, the recent ban on Styrofoam which I applaud and would like to build on as a future Commissioner.
I have several of my own ideas to contribute to establishing Miami Beach as a model community for environmental responsibility. As PTA President at North Beach Elementary, I implemented new recycling programs. Three years into our Textile Recycling Program, our school has recycled 10 tons of clothing and shoes. More than 1,400 pounds of electronics were recycled during our Electronics Recycling campaign launch earlier this year! As your City Commissioner, I would like to bring textile and electronics recycling to Miami Beach.
Transparency in government and access to open data: The City of Miami Beach has implemented an open system to show the City’s budget and expenditures online to all. This is a great move towards transparency.
With my extensive background in technology, I will be particularly able to assist the City of Miami Beach in communicating with its residents and other stakeholders, and enabling even better access to usable information.
I would like to establish a “bookshelf” of all of the City’s various Master Plans with status reporting as to progress and budget for each. This will enable the entire community to know where we are in terms of reaching our strategic goals and objectives.