mayoral race

Candidates For Miami-Dade Mayor Face Off In First Debate Of 2020 Race

In the first debate of the 2020 Miami-Dade County mayoral race on Monday, five candidates expressed commitments to address sea-level rise and expand worker rights but also sparred over their backgrounds and ways to improve mass transit in the county.

The forum hosted by the AFL-CIO at the Firefighters Memorial Building in Doral took place before more than 100 local union workers and activists. It featured wide-ranging discussions on county partnerships with unions, public education and using taxes to expand county services, among other issues.

The candidates included current Miami-Dade Commissioners Daniella Levine Cava, Esteban Bovo Jr., Jean Monestime and Xavier Suarez, as well as former county Mayor Alex Penelas. Three other candidates did not participate.

They’re all vying to succeed current Mayor Carlos Gimenez in an August primary election next year. Gimenez is stepping down from the nonpartisan position due to term limits.

“What you will have to decide is who is most credentialed, most qualified to run a $9 billion business,” Penelas said during the debate, referring to the county’s budget.

Much of the forum was tailored to labor issues with many workers in attendance dressed in shirts representing their respective unions.

Candidates, including Levine Cava and Suarez, said Miami-Dade must improve its relationships with different unions. Union leaders and workers have criticized the county for letting partnerships with labor groups sour.

Levine Cava noted that support from labor groups helped her initially win a seat on the county commission in 2014. She said she would partner with unions to improve wages and benefits.

“I’ve championed equal pay for women, we’ve increased the living wage, we’ve brought labor peace to numerous contracts,” Levine Cava said. “As mayor, this is what I will continue.”

Suarez, who previously served as the first Cuban-born mayor of Miami, also called himself a “friend of labor” who is willing to “fight it out with the bureaucrats.”

On climate change, each of the candidates agreed that human behavior is a cause of global warming. They said the county must improve its sewage infrastructure and address leaking septic tanks as a result of sea-level rise.

Monestime said climate change is South Florida’s greatest threat. He argued that Miami-Dade’s resiliency team deserves more funding and should also focus on reducing climate emissions.

“We can’t leave it to our next generation to solve it for us,” said Monestime, who, if elected, would be the county’s first black and Haitian-American mayor. “We must make it the business of every county department to address this issue.”

The candidates included current Miami-Dade Commissioners Daniella Levine Cava, Esteban Bovo Jr., Jean Monestime and Xavier Suarez, as well as former county Mayor Alex Penelas. Three other candidates did not participate.

They’re all vying to succeed current Mayor Carlos Gimenez in an August primary election next year. Gimenez is stepping down from the nonpartisan position due to term limits.

“What you will have to decide is who is most credentialed, most qualified to run a $9 billion business,” Penelas said during the debate, referring to the county’s budget.

Much of the forum was tailored to labor issues with many workers in attendance dressed in shirts representing their respective unions.

Candidates, including Levine Cava and Suarez, said Miami-Dade must improve its relationships with different unions. Union leaders and workers have criticized the county for letting partnerships with labor groups sour.

Levine Cava noted that support from labor groups helped her initially win a seat on the county commission in 2014. She said she would partner with unions to improve wages and benefits.

“I’ve championed equal pay for women, we’ve increased the living wage, we’ve brought labor peace to numerous contracts,” Levine Cava said. “As mayor, this is what I will continue.”

Suarez, who previously served as the first Cuban-born mayor of Miami, also called himself a “friend of labor” who is willing to “fight it out with the bureaucrats.”

On climate change, each of the candidates agreed that human behavior is a cause of global warming. They said the county must improve its sewage infrastructure and address leaking septic tanks as a result of sea-level rise.

Monestime said climate change is South Florida’s greatest threat. He argued that Miami-Dade’s resiliency team deserves more funding and should also focus on reducing climate emissions.

“We can’t leave it to our next generation to solve it for us,” said Monestime, who, if elected, would be the county’s first black and Haitian-American mayor. “We must make it the business of every county department to address this issue.”

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