Mark Samuelian

Retired, holds volunteer positions; former partner at consulting firm Accenture

B.S., Georgia Tech; MBA, Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania

Board director, Miami Beach United (Resident advocacy organization), board member, Belle Isle Residents’ Association; board member, Pets’ Trust Advisory Board

1. Sea level rise is obviously on everyone’s mind. Do you think Miami Beach is on the right path? Is there more we could be doing? 

I do believe we need to protect our community with dynamic strategies that keep us dry and are environmentally friendly. As an engineer, I can contribute much to this important challenge, which is why if elected, I am eager to sit down with the City staff to do a thorough review of current plans and best practices. I do believe that the City is generally on the right track when it comes to combating the threats of sea level rise. I also believe that we must increase communication when it comes to neighborhoods and residents to ensure that everyone understands why the City is engaging in aggressive tactics.

2. The costs of sea level rise are increasingly falling on property owners as well, as efforts like raising roads makes homes more vulnerable. What can the city do to help homeowners combat sea level rise?

I agree that much of the financial burden is falling on local communities to fund resiliency efforts, which is why I believe the state and federal governments need to step up to aid local governments. We cannot allow residents and local governments to burden the financial costs alone. My commitment is to help alternative solutions. 

3. There is a lot of tension in Miami Beach right now around the question of who the city should put at the center of its decision-making: the long-term, year-round residents, or the lucrative tourism industry. What is your stance on:

3a. Whether Airbnb and other short-term rentals should be allowed? If yes, how should they be handled? 

I believe that any changes to the City’s position on short-term rentals that aim to disrupt the character and feel of Miami Beach should be left to the voters to decide. 
3b. The proposed change to Ocean Drive’s last call? 

I believe more needs to be done to clean up Ocean Drive to ensure it’s a safe and welcoming environment for residents and tourists alike. I appreciate that many are engaged in active dialogue on this issue and I join them in learning more about the pros-and-cons on a hard stop of 2 a.m.

4. How do you plan to bring in a diverse range of voices in your decision making? Miami Beach has a large immigrant population that often goes unheard, plus a large working class population that helps to support the tourism industry. 

I believe in empowering our many City boards and committees as this is an excellent way to bring in diverse voices into the decision making process at City Hall. We need to do more with the residents who invest their time to serve on these boards. We should value their time by making sure they are more included in early discussions on topics that are under the jurisdictions of their board. 

5. What is one change you want to make that would improve YOUR life in Miami Beach?

One of the first things I will do as City Commissioner is propose the establishment of the office of Inspector General to address issues of waste, fraud, and abuse.