Michael Castro

District 7


Word processor at a law firm

Miami-Dade Community College (A.A.)

Florida International University (B.A., Liberal Studies)

Worked at law firms for the past 14 years throughout Miami-Dade County.
Miami native and active community member.

Why are you running?

A lot of people have asked me that question. Everyone seems surprised because I’m pretty new to all this. I’ll start off by saying this. In Miami-Dade County, this year there were seven seats open for election and only four of them were challenged. So, it would have been only three of them if I didn’t qualify at the last minute.

I’m seeing these commissioners and no one is challenging them. That shows that there’s not a lot of public interest and apathy like nothing can be done. So I thought, “Let me make these guys work for the county.” I see too many decisions made in Miami-Dade that I disagree with. I felt if I waited another four years there would be too much damage done already.

Why are you best qualified?

My opponent has been doing this for the last 40 years. If you live in Miami and are happy with how things are going, you can settle for him. My strength is that I’m not associated with lobbyists. Miami is known for nepotism. You have one commissioner whose son is in the City of Miami commission. You have the mayor of the City of Miami’s daughter trying to become the mayor of Miami-Dade County — and her seat is trying to be filled by the current mayor’s sister-in-law. I’m offering the people something new and fresh, that doesn’t owe anyone anything, and that’s not friends with special interests.

What are the biggest challenges Miami is facing?

Traffic and overdevelopment, but it all is tied together.

How do you propose solving them?

The commission has to have a better grasp and communication with what’s going on in Miami. I don’t think the commission puts enough emphasis on micromanaging development. A good way to start is to micromanage and make sure the building isn’t an oversized apartment complex squeezing in as many units as possible. I’m not against large-scale development but it has to be smart development. We should have commercial and residential space in one building.

What makes Miami so damn cool?

The Coral Gables and Coconut Grove area has a lot of charm and hisotry and does a good job of keeping that small town vibe.

What can Miami-Dade do to prepare for sea level rise and protect our natural environment?

Of the commissioners that are running, no one wants to say that nothing can be done. Local government can’t do anything about sea level rise, but no local politicians will tell you that. We need to tell the federal government that sea level rise is imminent and going to affect Miami first. Miami-Dade County is going to suffer first, that’s a given. Our job is to voice to the federal government to let them know we need to implement stricter regulations on any industry that affects sea level rise right now.

Why is the rent so high?

There’s a magnitude of reasons. House flipping is a problem. Florida is the capital of house flipping. You have some people who have cash and buy a house and don’t do anything to it and then give it a paint job and resell it at twice the price. That creates artificial inflation which affects rent.

Also, everything is centralized in Downtown Miami. I want to start encouraging local municipalities to start their own downtowns.

Is there anything that can be done to fix our transit system and get traffic under control?

The traffic situation will not be remedied. I’ve been talking to other candidates and listening to commissioners. They have a crazy idea that we can all use bicycles and the Metrorail. They want to make it like New York City and that’s not going to happen. So that’s one way not to solve the problem. Miami is far from being New York City. What we have to do is start centralizing the downtown districts within each municipality.

We need to further develop their downtowns so that traffic isn’t just bottlenecking in Downtown Miami. The majority of jobs are in Fort Lauderdale or Downtown Miami. You should decrease the demand to go downtown for work. I live and work in Coconut Grove. I walk five blocks to work everyday. Imagine if we could make that more common.

How do you feel about the county’s current campaign finance system?

I’m not too crazy about it. Obviously I’m working with a couple thousand dollars and my opponents are working for $150,000, which is overkill for this position. With today’s social media, you don’t really need a lot of money to get your name out there. There has to be stricter regulations for funding and lobbyists. It’s opening a can of worms when you don’t have those restrictions.

If you had a $100 budget to spend, how would you spend it?