The upcoming general election is quickly approaching us on August 18. Miami-Dade County residents will elect a new County Commissioners, which will bring totally new leadership to the Historically Black neighborhood through the county.
Here at Hy-Lo News, we want to provide you with a voters guide about who will be on your ballet vying for the Miami-Dade County Commission vote. Although most media attention is given to the Presidential election, we want you to know local elections are crucial for you to participate in. The Black and Brown vote matters on all levels. The Miami-Dade County Commission makes decisions that will affect you and the people around you daily.
The Role and Responsibilities of the Miami-Dade County Commission
According to MiamiDade.gov, The Board of County Commissioners (BCC) are the individuals elected in 13 districts to represent you. The Board of County Commissioners are the legislative and the governing body of Miami-Dade
county. Some of the Board’s powers include but are not be restricted to the following:
- Provide and operate air, water, rail, and bus terminals, port facilities, and public transportation systems.
- Provide hospitals and uniform health and welfare programs.
- Provide parks, preserves, playgrounds, recreation areas, libraries, museums, and other recreational and cultural facilities and programs.
- Provide central records, training, and communications for fire and police protection; provide traffic control and central crime investigation; provide fire stations, jails, and related facilities; and subject to Section 1.01A(18) provide a uniform system for fire and police protection;
- License and regulate taxis, jitneys, limousines for hire, rental cars, and other passenger vehicles for hire operating in the county.
To view the full list of County Commission powers and responsibilities click here.
Candidate research and reporting completed in partnership with The Culture.
County Commission District 1 Candidates
Neighborhoods and cities in District One include Miami Gardens, Opa-locka, Miami Lakes and northwest Miami Dade-County. Click here to view the district one map and boundaries.
Sybrina Denise Fulton
A Miami Gardens native and lifelong resident, Sybrina Fulton is an active member of the community who has dedicated her adult life to public service, empowering women, and fighting for positive social change. A graduate of Florida Memorial University, Sybrina has worked in Miami-Dade government for more than 20 years. Sybrina is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated and the National Council of Negro Women. Following the death of her 17-year-old son, Trayvon Martin, Sybrina turned her heartbreak into action by advocating for families and concerned citizens across the country. Through her work with the Trayvon Martin Foundation, Sybrina has helped grieving mothers, mentored young people, and become a leading voice on the need to end senseless gun violence.
If elected Sybrina would like to accomplish the following: Deploy a comprehensive approach to transportation and advancing regional transit options to connect those in Miami-Dade to economic opportunities in Broward and Palm Beach Counties; Fostering an environment that equips local entrepreneurs and small businesses with the tools to succeed; Creating more opportunities for small and minority businesses to participate in county contract bidding process Promoting policies that will attract investment to our region; Fight for housing options that are more affordable, safer, and secure for all who call our County home; Pursue innovative programs and partnerships to help alleviate the housing burden felt by many area families.
Oliver Gilbert III
Oliver Gilbert, who is currently the mayor of Miami Gardens, is a graduate of Florida A&M University and the University of Miami School of Law, where he graduated with honors. Shortly after law school graduation, he began his career in government and politics serving as the Legislative Aide for State Representative Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall. From the State Representative’s Office to serve as the Deputy of Policy for Florida State Gubernatorial Candidate Janet Reno, Oliver’s quick wit, smarts, and infectious smile caught the attention of all those who encountered him. Upon completion of the gubernatorial race, Oliver was appointed Assistant State Attorney in the Broward County State Attorney’s Office, before returning to serve in his beloved hometown after it was incorporated as the City of Miami Gardens in 2003. In 2008, Oliver was appointed to the Miami Gardens City Council. He served in this capacity until 2012 when he was elected as the second Mayor of Miami Gardens. He is currently serving his second term.
If elected Oliver would like the accomplish the following: Oliver will work to improve our mobility by increasing access to public transit, adding additional bus routes, extending rail service to the Northern portion of the county as well as expand our thinking to include new and innovative forms of transportation that decrease our carbon footprint; Oliver established a small business assistance program, helping residents turn their talent and dream into opportunity and entrepreneurship, and Oliver will continue to empower not only women and minority-owned businesses but all businesses, helping them thrive and succeed; Building neighborhood capacity is crucial for sustainable communities. Home ownership is key to keeping communities stable; Oliver is committed to establishing initiatives to help residents improve and maintain their homes thereby creating sustainable and inclusive communities; Protecting our parks, green spaces, and natural resources are vital to the survival of our community; Oliver believes the safety of our residents is paramount and he said communities are safer when we work together to understand that through strategic partnerships and collaboration, we can build the community we desire. From intentional program creation for youth to access to education and jobs for adults, he believes communities are made safer by offering alternatives.
County Commission District 3 Candidates
Neighborhoods and cities included in District Three include Liberty City, Little Haiti, Overtown, the Upper East Side, Edgewater, Buena Vista, Allapattah, Wynwood, Venetian Causeway, and Watson Island, all located within the City of Miami; Brownsville, Military Trail Park, Biscayne Shores, and Gardens Park areas, the Village of El Portal and the Village of Miami Shores. Click here to view the district three map and boundaries.
Tisa McGhee is a proud wife, mother, and grandmother, a lifelong and tireless social service advocate, an educator, and a small business owner. She has devoted her life to making a positive impact in the community. Coupled with her academic and professional background as a social worker who believes in fighting for the rights of others, she said she is someone with integrity. Tisa is also a planner and coalition builder who knows how to work collaboratively with multiple stakeholders. She has lived in Miami for the past 16 years, and she said she is truly invested in District 3. Tisa is also an associate professor at Barry University in the School of Social Work where she teaches courses in Leadership, Advocacy, and Public Policy, from 2010-present. She believes she brings a unique skill set that she can apply as an elected official to ensure that Miami-Dade County government addresses the economic, social, and collective and diverse needs and the disparities of not only the residents of District 3 but of all Miami-Dade County.
If elected Tisa would like to accomplish the following: Tisa is prepared to address the interrelated issues of economic development, the housing crisis and transportation; She plans to increase wages countywide so that the workforce may support their families with dignity and respect without having to worry whether they may keep a roof over their heads or put food on the table; Tisa is ready to work with local, state, and national economic development agencies to attract more private and public sector investment in our communities and she will support better wage initiatives, higher quality and better-paying jobs and develop standards geared to benefit our local talent and workforce; To address the county’s housing crisis she would expand affordable housing to ensure residents are able to afford living here and have a clear benchmark to what an amount of affordable housing and the income levels that are available; Tisa would support expanding the capacity of land ownership models that preserve affordability such as community land trusts and shared equity; Finally, she would expand and improve our systems of public transportation increase our mobility and work on making bus and rail options more affordable or free.
Keon Hardemon, who is currently a city of Miami Commissioner and Chairman, was born in Miami, Florida where his family stressed to him the core values that remain true to him today: the importance of education, integrity, and service to the community. His first home was in the James E. Scott Public Housing Development in the Liberty City area of Miami-Dade County. He was raised in Liberty City neighborhood and is the epitome of the idiom that “It takes a village to raise a child”. As a product of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools System, he graduated Charles R. Drew Elementary School, Charles R. Drew Middle School, and Miami Northwestern Senior High School. After graduating from Miami Northwestern, Commissioner Hardemon enrolled at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU). At FAMU, he was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated and served the FAMU student body in a myriad of appointed and elected positions. However, he was most notably known as the Student Government Association’s Senate President. Mr. Hardemon graduated from FAMU with a Bachelors Degree in Business Management and a Masters in Business Administration. Upon graduating, he returned home to Miami-Dade County to work for Pfizer, a Fortune 500 firm, but later resigned to enroll in law school at the University Of Miami School Of Law (UM).
Currently, the Commissioner is a member of the Florida Bar Association, the American Bar Association, Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Wilkie D. Ferguson Bar Association, FAMU Alumni Association, and the UM Alumni Association. He was most recently an Assistant Public Defender at the Law Offices of the Public Defender Carlos Martinez where he represented hundreds of clients from the Miami-Dade County Community.
Monester Lee Kinsler
Monester Lee Kinsler is the Executive Director and Founder of the non-profit “A Leap of Faith.” She believes she can effectively contribute positive results to the community from her first day in office. She was born and raised in the community she hopes to serve as county commissioner, so she said this allows her to understands the needs of the people. Monester is committed to protecting her hometown culture by educating the community on HIV transmission, preserving affordable housing, cultivating education for the youth, and accommodating the aging population. She believes her proactive nature and track record while serving the community for more than 10 years as an HIV prevention advocate, reinforces the confidence of voters to know that she is here for the people. If elected she promises to work with the rest of the Commission to put the priorities of the residents and business of Miami-Dade first.
If elected Monester would like to accomplish the following: HIV Prevention, Educate and influence communities knowledge and attitudes with regard to HIV transmission; Create and preserve affordable housing and assist tenants at risk of displacement through gentrification; Assisting Youth, Ensure successful transition from adolescence to early adulthood through social, cognitive, psychological, and technological skills and support; Increase community readiness to accommodate the senior population through leadership, research, statistical analysis on transportation, affordable housing, and zoning.
Brian Dennis said he is and will be a solution base Commissioner — something he believes district three has never seen before. He is also an amendment 4 candidate.
If elected Brian would like to accomplish the following: He will campaign economic development and community resiliency; create equal opportunity platforms for District 3 residents; and develop policies that will use transportation options to strengthen District 3.
Gepsie Morisset-Metellus is co-founder and Executive Director of the Haitian Neighborhood Center Sant La, an award-winning neighborhood resource center that serves as a lifeline for the Haitian immigrant population of South Florida. Her community involvement spans over three decades. She currently serves on the Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent’s Business Advisory Council and the Miami-Dade School Bond Oversight Committee. She is an active member of the Miami Chapter of the International Women’s Forum and the Greater Miami Chapter of the Links Inc. In addition to hosting a weekly talk-show targeting the Haitian community South Florida, Gepsie is a frequent national media commentator about the issues that impact the Haitian community. Ms. Metellus is multilingual and has a multicultural perspective shaped by her extensive travel to Europe, Asia, The Middle East and the Caribbean. She’s an alumna of the Rockefeller Foundation’s prestigious fellowship, Next Generation Leaders, and of Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management. Gepsie’s motto is “Provide the leadership to get things done!”
If elected Gepsie would like to accomplish the following: She will create policies that uplift and empower the community by protecting workers rights, and expanding affordable housing; She believes in a countywide approach to affordable housing by partnering with advocacy groups and developers to identify vacant public land and reshape zoning codes; Gepsie will create and advocate for a comprehensive approach to transit that includes addressing gridlock on our highways and neighborhood streets, investing in public transit, including new rail and bus routes that connect our communities; she will prioritize sustainable development policies that protect the environment, and make sustainable investments in our infrastructure; Gepsie will invest in our healthcare infrastructure, prioritize access to healthy food, and protect our water supply.
Eddie Lewis has been a resident of District three for more than 29 years. He served our country as a US Marine for 17 years and Miami-Dade county for 20 years in law enforcement. He said he is DEDICATED to his community and lends himself to various charitable organizations and community activities.
If elected Eddie would like to accomplish the following: Provide affordable housing for seniors; implement reduced rental housing rates; fix public transit; create more social services for immigrants; preserve and protect the environment; support and increase teacher’s pay; fight for the reduction of over crowed prisons; fight to reduce minimum mandatory prison sentences back to 65%; and create employment and job training for returning citizens.
County Commission District 9 Candidates
Neighborhoods and cities included in District Nine include Florida City, South Miami Heights, Homestead, Perrine, Cutler Bay, and Richmond Heights. Click here to view the district nine map and boundaries.
Kionne is the current State Representative for District 117 and House Minority Leader. As State Representative for the past 8 years, he is running to continue fighting for the South-Dade community. He was born and raised in Naranja by a single mother who worked hard to ensure he could achieve his God Given talents. He has the experience of overcoming many challenges and obstacles throughout his life, including being a victim of gun violence and police brutality. Kionne earned his law degree and became an attorney in the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. In 2012, his community elected him to serve in the Florida Legislature. In 2018, Kionne had the honor of being elected the House Minority Leader. He has fought for funding transportation, raising the minimum wage, police body cameras, rights for formerly incarcerated citizens, funding for affordable housing, raising the teachers, personnel, and state workers’ salaries.
If elected Kionne would like to accomplish the following: Kionne believes transportation is an important issue to every resident in South-Dade. He will fight for better transportation and he believes as a result that will bring more jobs, alleviate traffic, and improve the quality of life for our South-Dade residents; Kionne said the lack of affordable housing is an issue that is hurting seniors and workers who want to provide a decent life for their families. He will make sure we have workforce housing available to those who graduate and for workers; Kionne said he has the relationships that are needed to bring public and private partners together to address housing; Gun Violence continues to plague our community, so he will work with all stakeholders to keep the community safe, while also providing educational and employment opportunities for the youth.
Born in Jamaica and raised in the District nine working class neighborhood of South Miami Heights, Marlon is a first generation American and Hall of Fame alumnus of Miami Southridge Senior High School, and has lived in District nine since 1985. At Miami Southridge Senior High School, Marlon excelled in and outside the classroom and worked part-time at the local Cutler Ridge (now Southland) Mall before departing on a partial scholarship to Florida State University. Marlon is a double ‘Nole where he successfully completed business and law degrees, along with study abroad programs in Costa Rica and Barbados. At FSU, Marlon met his wife, Carla, of 21 years. Returning to Miami in 1995 from college, Marlon and Carla married in 1998 and purchased their first home in the Bonita Lakes community in 2001 where they have resided since. Known for his entrepreneurial acumen as a business lawyer, Marlon is also known for his local activism in support of issues such as civic engagement, voter education, breast cancer awareness and youth mentorship. As a past president of the Caribbean Bar Association and trustee of the Miami Foundation, Marlon has also served as an avid advocate for issues impacting communities of color. As a partner at the law firm of Hamilton, Miller & Birthisel, Marlon presently serves as a board member of the Miami Parking Authority, Orange Bowl Committee, and Miami Book Fair International. Marlon is also an active member of his local Richmond-Perrine Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
If elected Marlon would like to accomplish the following: He will pursue policies and advocate for investments to support the advancement of more workforce and/or affordable housing in collaboration with developers on private and infill properties in South Miami-Dade County; Marlon is committed to fighting for transit expansion that would deliver relief for all of South-Dade. He will be advocating for policies to be reflected in the budget and in tandem with other funding sources to improve the transportation network for all of Miami-Dade County; Marlon believes the growth of our economy and housing inventory must be balanced with the preservation of natural assets to our region and he will advocate environmental sustainability; Marlon said he will be vigilant in creating an environment of community policing that nurtures an intimate relationship with community stakeholders and law enforcement. He also commits to creating more opportunities for our unique communities to build a greater sense of family and care for each other.
Mark Coats and his family have a long historical tie to the South Miami communities. As a proud Cobra, Mark Coats graduated from South Miami Senior High School. He followed his family legacy of civic service, and applied for admission in the New Orleans Theological Seminary for Divinity Studies. Thereafter, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies from Baptist College of Florida. This educational achievement allowed him to serve for over 19 years as Pastor for Grace of God Baptist Church in the heart of Miami-Dade’s District 9. Mark Coats was a public servant for over 20 years, first as a Commission Aide and Chief-of-Staff to City Commissioner Victor De Yurre at the City of Miami. He later was Special Assistant to Miami-Dade County, Mayor Alex Penelas. Over the years, Mark Coats has assumed many community leadership roles: he has, for instance, been a member of the Miami Rivers of Life Diversionary Program for juveniles in the justice system Advisory Board; he has also been a member of the Board of Director of the One Church-One Child program, after appointed by both Governor Lawton Childs and Governor Jeb Bush. Mark Coats loves being a husband, a father and a grandfather. In his private time, he enjoys reading and mentoring young people in the community. Mark Coats and his wife Tina run a K-12 school that educates students from the Goulds, in the Homestead area.
If elected Mark would like to accomplish the following: Improve the social, economic, and governmental needs in District nine.
Johnny G. Farias
Ecuadorian-born, licensed electrician and U.S. Navy veteran, Johnny G. Farias is seeking to serve the South Dade community as the next Miami-Dade County Commissioner District 9, August 18, 2020. Johnny, who currently serves as a Vice-Chair of Miami-Dade County Community Council of District 15, Subarea 154, which encompasses commission district 9, has been a licensed electrician for over 20 years and holds an A.S. in political science from Miami Dade College. He has been an active community member through many local organizations, such as Centro Campesino (Board Member), Liga Ecuatoriana de Florida (member), NAACP (member), South Dade Democratic Black Caucus-Ron Brown Chapter (member), Shriners, Scottish Rite, and a Mason. He also sits on several EESAC Boards; Everglades Preparatory High School and McArthur Senior High. He was also a Guardian at Litem from 2006 to 2012 and a Girl Scout Leader for twelve years (1993 – 2006). Johnny is a husband and father of five.
If elected Johnny would like to accomplish the following: JOBS: Make it a requirement that the workers need to be a resident for more than one year. This will open the opportunity for our actual residents to have the opportunity of employment. We can create jobs by incentives to existing businesses and for creating new businesses. We can start incubators in Homestead and Florida City. Infrastructure: Our roads are under construction every day it seems to never end. There are areas that need street lights, while other areas have lights, but the lights are not on. Yet we settle for this and we should not. In some areas, I have heard we need bridges to divert the accumulation of traffic, we need to investigate this as well. Tolls & Transportation A Dade County Resident discount program. Why are we funding the tolls and paying as if we were tourists in our own backyard? A percentage of the tolls collected must be earmarked for South Dade only. The public transportation is not accessible down south. We need to take back control of our invested dollars that we voted on to modernize and expand our metro rail and buses so we have quality transportation options. Safety – Community & Officers Our officers must meet the needs of the community it serves, so both the community and the officers understand the social and economic hardships of the community. We need to hold all our officers accountable and to a higher standard because of their duties they signed up for. We need more investment in technology as “Shot Spotter”, a gunshot detection system. I would saturate areas that are identified as hot spots with cameras. The technology is there we just need a champion to push this forward. Education We need to make sure we give our teachers the proper resources, such as books, curriculum, and wages. Our kids are the future, but we need to give them an opportunity. We need summer programs back in place. I want to bring a tradesmen school to our district, so our youth have opportunities other than college.
Elvis Maldonado has dedicated most of his adult life to serving others as a community advocate and as a City of Homestead Councilman since 2009 where he has subsequently been re-elected. Mr. Maldonado’s proven record of public service and personal commitment and engagement to the South Dade community, makes him uniquely qualified to serve as County Commissioner. He’s currently the only candidate in the County District 9 commission race with local government experience. As a result of his excellence in public service, Councilman Maldonado was selected to serve as Chair of the 2019-2020 Florida League of Cities Legislative Policy Committee on Transportation & Intergovernmental Relations. During his tenure as Chairman, Mr. Maldonado has led the way in addressing municipal concerns relating to transportation and highway safety, as well as aviation, affordable housing, building codes, charter schools and veterans affairs. Moreover, Mr. Maldonado’s community involvement extends to serving on the Homestead City Charter Review Board and as a former Chair of the Community Development District (CDD). Councilman Maldonado has made the City of Homestead his home since the age of 5. Mr. Maldonado is the devoted father of two, young adult women. Being widowed as a young man, he single-handedly raised his young daughters while juggling his responsibilities as a committed small business owner and dedicated public servant. He graduated from Florida Computer and Business College in 1998.
If elected Elvis would like to accomplish the following: Bring about the long-promised, but never delivered, state-of-the-art transportation systems like light rail to South and west Miami-Dade to improve resident mobility and alleviate much-needed traffic congestion. Encourage new, large and small businesses to locate their operations in southern and western Miami-Dade County; He will fight to pass legislation which would increase the current caps the County’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund is able to spend on affordable housing projects, as well as accelerate the release of these funds, once they are allocated, so that the monies targeted for affordable housing do not sit idle, year after year – so that more projects may be built at a faster rate; Elvis said he will pass legislation allowing new and existing small businesses to open their doors faster and expand their operations by reforming the burdensome permitting process, eliminating needless bureaucratic hurdles, and cutting red tape so that local government becomes a true partner and not an obstacle to small businesses; He will be a steadfast supporter and defender of our Agriculture Industry and will work closely with my colleagues so that the funds that our County government sends to support this vital, local industry, is not reduced or threatened from any annual budgetary cuts.
Remember to cast your vote for the Miami-Dade State Attorney candidates on August 18, 2020. You can also vote by mail to avoid the crowds during this pandemic. Be sure to check your voter’s registration card to see where your voting location will be and it’s hours. And know it doesn’t matter who you vote for, just know that your vote matters — Black Votes Matter!
Click here to read our full voters guide and the elections we’ll be covering this 2020 season. If there is an election we should be paying attention to, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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