Florida In­flu­encers have the fi­nal say — plus a mes­sage to our next gover­nor

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - Opinion -

For the past seven months, 50 Florida In­flu­encers — com­posed of lead­ers in the state’s po­lit­i­cal, busi­ness, aca­demic and faith com­mu­ni­ties — have of­fered their view­points on is­sues of im­por­tance to Florida this elec­tion year. Their mis­sion: Of­fer real so­lu­tions to Florida’s po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates.

With the elec­tion a cou­ple of days away, we asked them to of­fer some words of ad­vice to the new gover­nor and state and fed­eral law­mak­ers. Here are their re­sponses, con­densed for clar­ity and space:

“Seek first to un­der­stand. Seek out di­verse opin­ions. Lis­ten. Com­pro­mise. Act with in­tegrity and gain the re­spect of those who may dis­agree with you. Spend time with a his­tory book. Use com­mon sense. Be a true servant leader.”

Su­san Towler, vice pres­i­dent, Florida Blue Foun­da­tion

“We are a state many are look­ing to for op­por­tu­ni­ties and ex­pan­sion. How­ever, we can’t close the deal with­out sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in de­vel­op­ing our work­force. Th­ese days, all other con­sid­er­a­tions are sec­ondary to work­force qual­ity. This is the mes­sage be­ing sent by those seek­ing to move to Florida, and we would do well to be re­spon­sive by mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant and cat­alytic in­vest­ments in our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem to en­sure our state can claim it pro­vides its res­i­dents with the top

Pre-K to sec­ondary to higher ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Jaret Davis, co-man­ag­ing share­holder, Green­berg Trau­rig, Mi­ami of­fice

“Be dar­ing and tackle is­sues that you can im­pact. Don’t get wrapped in in­ef­fec­tive­ness by spend­ing en­ergy on is­sues that are out your con­trol. Life is too short, be REL­E­VANT.”

Mike Fer­nan­dez, chair­man, MBF Health­care Part­ners

“Ours is a vul­ner­a­ble par­adise that is show­ing the wear of growth that has out­paced preser­va­tion. Now it is your turn to usher in a new era of sus­tain­abil­ity. We have never seen such a cul­mi­na­tion of en­vi­ron­men­tal tragedies — red tide, harm­ful al­gal blooms, cat­a­strophic hur­ri­canes and sea level rise bub­bling up through our storm drains. But we also have never seen such pub­lic aware­ness of th­ese is­sues. Con­ser­va­tion doesn’t have a party — red or blue, we all need clean wa­ter, clean air and the healthy en­vi­ron­ment that un­der­pins our state’s econ­omy.”

Julie Wraith­mell, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, Audubon Florida

“Let’s fo­cus on the needs and will of the peo­ple.

Let’s move for­ward in mak­ing pos­i­tive changes in the way you act, the way you talk and, most im­por­tantly, in the way you do things that ben­e­fit the peo­ple you rep­re­sent re­gard­less of po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion. Let’s re­spect dif­fer­ences, agree to dis­agree, then lead and leg­is­late in an ob­jec­tive man­ner with in­tegrity and compassion.”

Victoria Kas­dan, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, We Care Mana­tee

“As our new gover­nor and law­mak­ers pre­pare to lead our state, I sug­gest that they re­in­force their knowl­edge of Florida’s unique en­vi­ron­ment, cul­ture and his­tory by read­ing or re-read­ing the fol­low­ing books: Cyn­thia Bar­nett: ‘Mi­rage: Florida and the Van­ish­ing Wa­ter of the Eastern U.S.’; Jack Davis: ‘The Gulf: The Mak­ing of An Amer­i­can Sea’; Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas: ‘The Ever­glades, River of Grass’; Zora Neale Hurston: ‘Their Eyes Were Watch­ing God’; and Pa­trick Smith: ‘A Land Re­mem­bered.’ ”

Kent Fuchs, pres­i­dent, Uni­ver­sity of Florida

“Fo­cus on think­ing about what has brought our econ­omy strong over the last eight years. Main­tain fis­cal ef­fi­ciency, look for smaller im­prove­ments rather than huge changes. At the fed­eral level, get spend­ing un­der con­trol.”

David Mica, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, Florida Pe­tro­leum Coun­cil

“Re­gard­less of party or plat­form, Florida is the ul­ti­mate va­ca­tion des­ti­na­tion. We wel­come vis­i­tors of all back­grounds and be­liefs, and we want to con­tinue to make sure that our state con­tin­ues to pro­vide the best vis­i­ta­tion ex­pe­ri­ence. The tourism in­dus­try fosters en­trepreneur­ship and cre­ativ­ity, en­cour­ages eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and pro­vides much-needed jobs. The poli­cies we adopt in re­gard to tourism, tourism mar­ket­ing and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment have the po­ten­tial to im­pact ev­ery Florid­ian.”

Carol Dover, pres­i­dent, Florida Restau­rant & Lodg­ing As­so­ci­a­tion

“Re­main sin­gu­larly pas­sion­ate about your ser­vice to the peo­ple of Florida and in­vest your ef­forts, time and re­sources in ad­vanc­ing that mis­sion. Find ways to work with ev­ery­one at the ta­ble to get things done as op­posed to al­low­ing for a stale­mate in de­ci­sion-mak­ing mired in pol­i­tics or fu­ture po­lit­i­cal gain.”

Bob Ward, pres­i­dent, Florida Coun­cil of 100

“There is a proven way to pro­vide eco­nomic and ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties re­gard­less of one’s sta­tion in life. When free en­ter­prise, the pro­tec­tion of pri­vate prop­erty and the rule of law are al­lowed to flour­ish, ed­u­ca­tion, health­care and the qual­ity of the en­vi­ron­ment all im­prove, and more peo­ple are lifted out of poverty able to pur­sue their ver­sion of the Amer­i­can Dream — ei­ther for them­selves or their chil­dren or grand­chil­dren than by any other sys­tem in the his­tory of hu­mankind.”

Bob McClure, pres­i­dent, James Madi­son In­sti­tute

“Do what is in the best in­ter­est of all the cit­i­zens of Florida. Con­tin­u­ing the par­ti­san ap­proach to gov­ern­ing will no doubt lead to ad­di­tional eco­nomic and so­cial dis­tress.”

Michael Fin­ney, pres­i­dent and CEO, Mi­amiDade Bea­con Coun­cil

“De­velop a plan based on facts, as op­posed to where is the money for your cam­paign, that ben­e­fits Florida and ex­e­cute on it. Set aside your fu­ture po­lit­i­cal as­pi­ra­tions, be a true leader. Re­mem­ber you are a pub­lic servant; you are not in it for the recog­ni­tion, you are in it be­cause you want to serve oth­ers.”

Car­los Gar­cia Perez, part­ner, SMGQ Law

“The com­pe­ti­tion for trav­el­ers and the rev­enues they bring is in­tense and in­creas­ing.Many des­ti­na­tions have rec­og­nized the great value tourism brings to their econ­omy and are ag­gres­sively in­vest­ing to at­tract vis­i­tors. We need Florida’s new gover­nor and law­mak­ers to rec­og­nize the solid foun­da­tion tourism pro­vides to our state’s econ­omy, al­low­ing it to grow and di­ver­sify, and con­tinue to in­vest in our #1 tourism in­dus­try.”

Bill Tal­bert, pres­i­dent and CEO, Greater Mi­ami Con­ven­tion and Vis­i­tors Bureau

“Lis­ten well, work to­gether and re­mem­ber who elected you.’’

Daryl Tol, CEO, Florida Hos­pi­tal

“Be a servant leader. Care about oth­ers and put self­ish de­sires aside. Take care of the peo­ple un­der your charge. Leave your per­sonal am­bi­tions aside.”

Ken Law­son, pres­i­dent and CEO, Visit Florida

“We are a swing state. Some­times Democrats will win. Some­times Repub­li­cans will win. But when it comes to our en­vi­ron­ment, the state should never lose. Our elected of­fi­cials can’t aban­don Florida in­ter­ests to ap­pease spe­cial-in­ter­est donors who want to frack our state, drill our state, con­fuse our state into vot­ing against its very fu­ture. Our state lead­ers have to agree to make the en­vi­ron­ment a non-par­ti­san is­sue.”

Xavier Cor­tada, artist

“It has been a long and di­vi­sive cam­paign sea­son, and the cit­i­zens of this state are tired and dis­trust­ful of state lead­er­ship. An early sum­mit to call to­gether the lead­er­ship and pledge to work to­gether for the bet­ter­ment of the state and its cit­i­zens would go a long way to pro­vide a clear path to solv­ing the is­sues iden­ti­fied as be­ing of the great­est im­por­tance to Florida’s fu­ture.”

Rhea Law, chair, Florida of­fices, Buchanan Inger­soll & Rooney

“I be­lieve the ma­jor­ity of Florid­i­ans are nau­se­ated by the neg­a­tive po­lit­i­cal ads on tele­vi­sion and the ‘tribal’ war­fare that ex­ists be­tween the po­lit­i­cal par­ties. Amer­i­cans des­per­ately want bi­par­ti­san col­lab­o­ra­tion and a more civil tone to de­lib­er­a­tions that are im­por­tant to our demo­cratic form of govern­ment.”

Brian Kee­ley pres­i­dent and CEO, Bap­tist Health South Florida

“Ex­er­cise com­mon sense and compassion while pri­or­i­tiz­ing peo­ple and not money.”

Franklin Sir­mans, direc­tor, Perez Art Mu­seum Mi­ami

“Grid­lock is not an op­tion. Let’s be dif­fer­ent than other states. Let’s be fix­ers and prob­lem solvers re­gard­less of elec­toral out­comes — not prob­lem mak­ers.”

Al Car­de­nas, se­nior part­ner, Squire Pat­ton Boggs

“The po­lar­ized and toxic di­vide that ex­ists among the elec­torate not only de­grades our democ­racy, it also pre­vents us from work­ing to­gether to solve some ex­tremely se­ri­ous chal­lenges fac­ing our state and our coun­try. Bring­ing the peo­ple of Florida to­gether — re­gard­less of re­gion, party, race or re­li­gion — and seek­ing com­mon cause with oth­ers is ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal to our col­lec­tive well-be­ing and our fu­ture.”

Ja­cob Solomon, pres­i­dent and CEO, Greater Mi­ami Jewish Fed­er­a­tion

“Our next gover­nor must re­mem­ber that he rep­re­sents the ba­sic needs and in­ter­ests of all Florid­i­ans and must be guided in this re­gard in pri­or­i­tiz­ing poli­cies and bud­getary de­ci­sions. You may not please all, but the greater good should al­ways be a GPS.”

Mar­lon Hill, part­ner, Hamil­ton, Miller & Birthisel

“Be guided by the val­ues that have made our state strong and fo­cus on solv­ing the prob­lems that have been iden­ti­fied through­out this elec­tion cy­cle.”

Carol Prob­st­feld, pres­i­dent, State Col­lege of Florida, Mana­tee, Sara­sota

“As lead­ers in this great state of Florida, I urge you to al­ways re­mem­ber the in­stru­men­tal role ed­u­ca­tion plays in our so­ci­ety and do ev­ery­thing in your power to sup­port and prop­erly fund pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion. I es­pe­cially en­cour­age you to sup­port our na­tionalmodel state col­leges, as they sin­gle­hand­edly ed­u­cate more than 800,000 Florid­i­ans ev­ery year via tra­di­tional de­gree and short-term pro­grams that put peo­ple to work.”

Ed­uardo Padron, pres­i­dent, MDC

“What I would say to the next gover­nor and law­mak­ers is, whether you are a Demo­crat or a Repub­li­can, you are an Amer­i­can first. Make sure you are mak­ing de­ci­sions not based on ego or party but on what’s best for Florid­i­ans.”

Emilio Este­fan, CEO, Este­fan En­ter­prises

“We must work to­gether to over­come po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences for the greater good of our cit­i­zens. We can­not con­tinue to fid­dle while Florida burns.”

Steve Zack, part­ner, Boies Schiller Flexner

“Florida needs in­vest­ment in its fu­ture and sci­ence-in­formed de­ci­sion­mak­ing to guide those in­vest­ments. The re­siliency plan­ning in Mi­ami-Dade, Tampa Bay and South­east Florida is a crit­i­cal step to­ward in­vest­ing in Florida’s fu­ture. Re­siliency plan­ning and in­vest­ment should be sup­ported at the state level.”

Tif­fany Trox­ler, direc­tor of sci­ence, Sea Level So­lu­tions Cen­ter, FIU

“You have been en­trusted to guide our na­tion’s third-largest state into the fu­ture and by so do­ing, im­pact­ing more than 21 mil­lion lives. Use this unique lead­er­ship op­por­tu­nity to serve the best in­ter­ests of all Florid­i­ans — those who voted for you and those who didn’t.

We need lead­ers work­ing to­gether across the aisle to shape poli­cies, in­formed by econ­o­mists and sub­ject mat­ter ex­perts, that best po­si­tion our state for con­tin­ued and ac­cel­er­ated growth and pros­per­ity.”

Maria Alonso, pres­i­dent and CEO, United Way of Mi­ami-Dade

“The econ­omy and health of this state are in your hands, and this is a piv­otal mo­ment to re­shape Florida’s nar­ra­tive into a more pro­gres­sive fu­ture that at­tracts di­ver­si­fied in­dus­tries, in­creases eco­nomic par­tic­i­pa­tion for all small busi­nesses re­gard­less of race or so­cioe­co­nomic sta­tus, im­proves teacher pay and the qual­ity of our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, re­stores en­vi­ron­men­tal in­tegrity and builds a trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture that will sup­port our pop­u­la­tion growth and mo­bil­ity needs.”

Fabiola Fleu­ranvil, CEO, Blue­print Cre­ative Group

“Think with your heart, gov­ern with your fist and make sure you take into ac­count all peo­ple’s opin­ions be­fore mak­ing de­ci­sions that will change the lives of the peo­ple who elected you.”

Terry DeCarlo, LGBT ac­tivist

“Fight for com­mu­ni­ties and the peo­ple work­ing to make them great. When in doubt, lean to­ward the most com­pas­sion­ate and em­pa­thetic re­sponses and ac­tions you can muster.

This is a his­tor­i­cally crit­i­cal in­flec­tion point in our coun­try, and you need to be part of the so­lu­tion.”

Chris Caines, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, Mi­ami Ur­ban Fu­ture Ini­tia­tive, FIU

“Please do not suc­cumb to the in­creas­ingly preva­lent ten­dency to fo­cus on rhetoric that ap­peals to our most base and pri­mal fears, but rather fo­cus on the is­sues that en­able us to share our ideas and com­mon de­sired out­comes for peace, pros­per­ity and be­ing a bea­con of hope in the world.”

Shel­ley Katz, vice pres­i­dent op­er­a­tions, Lutheran Ser­vices Florida Health Sys­tems

“Fo­cus some of your early po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal on the non­par­ti­san ques­tion of how Florida can best help com­mu­ni­ties be­come bet­ter places for peo­ple to age, which will ad­dress some of the longterm phys­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture gaps that we have while build­ing so­cial in­fra­struc­ture to en­able neigh­bors to bet­ter help neigh­bors who are ag­ing at home. Be a leader for all Florid­i­ans.”

Jeff Johnson, state direc­tor, AARP

C.M Guer­rero El Nuevo Her­ald

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