By David M. Udoff
The political season is picking up steam with an upcoming Miami-Dade Mayoral Debate that will be moderated by Michael Putney, Channel 10 senior political news analyst and winner of two Emmy Awards. He also writes a semimonthly column on politics for the Miami Herald.
Sponsored by the North Dade Political Association, the debate will take place on Thursday, March 9, 2020 at the Sunny Isles Beach Government Center Commission Chamber, 18070 Collins Ave. Sunny Isles Beach FL. 33160, time 7:00 PM - with first come first serve seating.
Putney plans to discuss this debate on Channel 10 “This Week in South Florida” broadcast where he is the host. “This is going to be one of the most important elections on the ballet this year,” said Putney.
With pertinent issues that face the voters at the ballot box this year, civility, honesty and progress are values the voters look for in a candidate and especially a professional who knows how to get things done in a sprawling county with building development, international diversity and an increase in population.
The candidates include current Miami-Dade Commissioners: Daniella Levine Cava, Esteban L. Bovo, Jr., Jean Monestime, Xavier Suarez and former County Mayor Alex Penelas. Newcomer, Monique Nicole Barley, also joined the race. They all contend to succeed current Mayor Carlos Gimenez who relinquishes his non-partisan position due to term limits.
“Some of the top issues that I want to hear the candidates talk about are what new plans the county has to address climate change, sea level rise, and certainly mass transit whether it’s a rail line or an enhanced bus system that Gimenez favored. Although crime has gone down, it is always an important issue. The county parks system is under funded and how would they fix that. These are some of the issues that I think about,” said Putney.
Florida is a beautiful unique state; however, what is important to residents who live in a rural section differs from that of Miami a major metropolis. “On state issues that should concern the mayor, there is an increasing tendency by the state legislature to take power away from the county,” Putney said, “The state wants to dictate to Miami-Dade County and I feel each of the candidates will have to defend the home-rule charter powers.”
In consideration of political correctness do politicians need to say something outrageous to get elected these days? “Well, it helps,” said Putney, “Sometimes being a little outrageous as long as you’re not offensive is a good thing. On the other hand if you have someone like, Sen. Rick Scott, who during the Presidential Impeachment process says ‘it’s boring’ then releases a video and says he is being ‘held hostage and has to listen to the rants of a creature from another planet,’ in my view, that is offensive,” added Putney.
Obviously the bar has been lowered on the political spectrum these days with the insolent approach that grabs voter attention. “Any successful elected official must process the right temperament, someone who can listen to all sides of an argument and help the voters reach a consensus point of view. They must demonstrate confidence, knowledge in their job, integrity and honesty,” said Putney.
At this stage of the upcoming debate, it might be a bit early for fireworks unless any of the candidates are disdainful of each other. “Once the primary gets closer in August and candidates get desperate, then you get fireworks. At the debate, I expect a robust but civil discussion among the candidates,” said Putney.
Miami is considered the gateway to South America and Caribbean where Latin influence is discernable. Once President Obama re-opened the Untied States Embassy in Havana, there is a possibility that some candidates have strong views. “I don’t feel Cuba will be a major talking point of the debate,” added Putney.
This significant debate will give the community the opportunity to hear Michael Putney’s focused questions directed at the candidates where their leadership acumen and electability must resonate with the voters.
For more information on the Miami Mayoral Debate contact: Lewis Thaler, president, North Dade Political Association, 786-202-1122 or Robert Paget, vice president, 305-586-0242.