Former chairman of Miami-Dade Community Council 10’s zoning board
This post is part of our voter guide for the Aug. 28 local and primary elections. Head to the main landing page for a guide to the key races and decisions being made this election.
District 10 covers a portion of southwest Miami-Dade from the area just south of the 836 Expressway down to Southwest 88th Street and extends east from Southwest 147th Avenue to the Palmetto Expressway. It includes areas like Westchester, Fontainebleau and Kendall.
What would your top 3 priorities be as commissioner?
There are so many important issues to discuss for the betterment of our quality of life in our communities, including the known ones: transportation, affordable and workforce housing. But to these I will add some basic ones, ones that many today are affected by, but are rarely discussed, “aging in place” programs for our seniors, equality and non-discrimination, mental illness and homelessness.
What does “good” public transit for Miami-Dade County look like to you?
“Good” public transportation transforms communities by fueling economic development, promoting sustainability and providing a higher quality of life. Every segment of our county – individuals, families, communities, and businesses – benefits from public transportation. Public transportation contributes to a healthier environment by improving air quality and reducing oil consumption, and through better land-use policies. It also helps to expand business development and work opportunities.
How will you support expanding affordable housing as commissioner?
Using the private sector, in partnership with nonprofits, can emerge as an effective vehicle to better equip and address the dire need for quality, affordable housing than the public sector. Where the government falls short, a thoughtful private sector solution that focuses on the preservation and rehabilitation of quality affordable housing, combined with active social and community programming, can be a solution. By leveraging, an experienced multifamily owner-operator can address both the housing and livelihood needs of the individuals.
What does a resilient and sustainable city look like to you?
I believe a resilient and sustainable community is one that is economically, environmentally, and socially healthy. It must meet the challenges through diverse but actual solutions rather than through fragmented approaches that meet one of the goals but not others and at the expense of the others. Goals that are focused on both the present and future. Sustainable communities manage human, natural and financial resources to meet current needs while ensuring that adequate resources are equitably available for future generations. It seeks a better quality of life for the community without compromising the wellbeing of others. It protects and maintains healthy ecosystems. It works and participates with an effective governance supported by meaningful and broad-based citizen participation.
What lessons did you learn from Hurricane Irma that will influence how you govern if you win?
First, Miami-Dade needs a community effort of resiliency before a hurricane. Every person in every area of the county must have an emergency plan in place, which has always been repeated time and time again, but the plan must be disseminated to every other person who is part of your group, be it family, friends or neighbors. It must be a cohesive community effort. We learned that preparing for and recovering from Hurricane Irma was difficult for people with low-income, elderly or disabled. Because of this, the communication levels were low, no access to social media preventing assisting them to be informed on evacuation procedures. Under my leadership and in conjunction with the departments, our government needs to improve partnerships with community organizations and faith groups that assist the community and those more affected or vulnerable.
If you had the chance, would you uphold or reverse the county’s decision to abandon its sanctuary city status and cooperate with federal immigration officials?
Sanctuary cities could be places that protect undocumented immigrants by enacting explicit policies or by not complying with federal immigration requests. It is a touchy subject, but I would lean in reversing the county’s decision to abandon its sanctuary city status. We must protect the lives of so many undocumented families which have worked, given their civic duty and raised children in this great community. At the same time, I believe, undocumented individuals with criminal records or that break the law, must be addressed with all the powers of the law.
Do you believe in systemic racism, aka the idea that racism is baked into some of our existing policies and laws, and if yes, what ideas do you have for addressing that?
Yes I do believe it exists and must be addressed and we must work to correct it. A sample of this is at the university and college level where policymakers should take steps to ensure strong and sustained oversight of colleges. Race-based affirmative action policies ensure equitable access to postsecondary institutions. It exists in housing, employment, the wealth gap. The gap in wealth between black families and white families remains persistently large. We must fight the status quo of inequality. I believe systemic racism is a widespread problem in our society, and we must work to confront it, address it, dialogue in our community.
Should the Urban Development Boundary remain fixed, or do you think there are certain economic and mobility needs that are more important?
I think the UDB should be fixed and continued studying on other ample developable land within the boundary. Allowing growth farther west and/or south will bring levels of stress to already strained schools and roads, due to possible new developments, at a time when there are years of needs inside the development boundary, including mass transit, housing. Certainly, yes, there are many economic and mobility needs, there has been for decades, and in which many leaders have not been able to fully address and or implement successful plans, but it should not be done at the expense of endangering our wetlands reserves.