Why the August elections in Miami-Dade are so important

With the many levels of government, it can at times be challenging to grasp the importance that each election can have on our daily lives. The government of Miami-Dade County is one of those bodies that we should all be more concerned about. As many of us receive our news from social media, it can be difficult to stay in the know on local issues unless you specifically seek out the information in local media or follow your local elected leaders.

The current county Mayor, Carlos Gimenez, is term limited and this will be a hotly contested race to see who will be the leader for Miami-Dade County and its 2.7M+ residents. While a runoff in November is anticipated, it’s important to turnout in August to support your desired candidate.

The Government of Miami-Dade provides oversight of the following departments:

  • Transportation and Public Works
  • Police Department (the largest in the southeast US)
  • Public Housing and Community Development
  • Water and Sewer
  • Fire Rescue Department
  • Corrections and Rehabilitation
  • Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces
  • Cultural Affairs
  • Elections
  • Full list of departments can be accessed here on Wikipedia

This year’s election is especially significant because for the first time, term limits come into effect for county commissioners. Of the 13 districts, the 7 odd districts will be on the ballot this year. And 5 of the 7 current commissioners are unable to run for re-election. It is likely that many of these races WILL BE decided in the August election if they receive 50% of the votes in their district.

The Board of County Commissioners reviews and adopts comprehensive development plans for the county, adopting and enforcing building codes, establishing zoning controls, providing public health facilities, cultural facilities, housing programs; regulating taxi and rental cars, setting tolls and providing public transportation systems, regulating utilities, etc. Electing strong advocates to the county commission can greatly help the county combat and adapt to sea level rise, and also help fund important income-based services such as healthcare clinics and housing assistance.

In addition to these races, Miami-Dade will also elect their state attorney, in a choice between incumbent Katherine Fernandez Rundle and former assistant state attorney, Melba Pearson. The position plays a major role in the criminal justice system, establishing fair sentences and striking the right balance between incarceration and rehabilitation. State attorneys can prosecute police, hire and fire prosecutors, reallocate funding, and choose not to charge youth as adults. This election will be closely watched as Fernandez Rundle has held the office for 27 years and there are no term limits on the position.

And not to be overlooked are the critical school board elections. Miami-Dade County Public Schools is the 4th largest school district in the country. And we need champions for education who will fight to improve public schools in all neighborhoods.

Finally, the local Democratic Party will hold elections for committeemen and committeewomen. We hope to publish more information about these candidates as we get closer to the August elections.

Ballots will be mailed starting July 9th. We encourage every voter to sign-up to receive their ballot in the mail. Receiving the ballot does not mean that you cannot go to the polls, but considering the rise in coronavirus cases and reports of long lines in other states, it only makes sense to have the option. Also this year will be the first year that voters in Florida can drop off their mailed ballot at ANY early voting location.

Stay safe!