The top stories last week
Irela Bagué, president, Bagué Group
There can be no better outcome from Florida’s gubernatorial elections than hearing Governor-elect Ron DeSantis say that his priority will be to focus on water quality and Everglades restoration. As a former water manager who helped to kick off Everglades restoration over 18 years ago, I have endured the long delays of progress. Everglades restoration is all about water quality, quantity and timing and our new Governor can ensure that the backlog of projects gets the federal funding necessary to be completed and move Florida forward.
Gary Resnick, mayor, Wilton Manors
With this election, Wilton Manors will have an all gay and lesbian city commission. Apparently we’re not the first but when you consider only a few years ago, we could not marry or adopt children in Florida, it shows how far we’ve come in a short time. It also demonstrates that communities are much more accepting of diversity. As long as we’re qualified and do the job, our sexual orientation should not affect residents’ support.
Marty Kiar, property appraiser, Broward County
Amendment 2 was passed by 67 percent of Florida voters in the midterm election. This amendment keeps in place an important cap that limits the increase in value a non-homesteaded property is taxed on to 10 percent a year except for the school portion of the tax bill. These properties include commercial properties - such as small business properties, vacant land, rental properties and second homes. By passing Amendment 2, a $90 million tax increase on 175,000 properties in Broward County was averted for next year alone and those properties will continue to enjoy the protection of the 10 percent assessment cap.
Kathleen Cannon, president, United Way of Broward County
Can you imagine spending half of your monthly income on rent? That’s the sad reality for many families in Broward County, the most cost-burdened metro area in the entire country, according to a Harvard study. That’s why I’m so glad that Broward voters approved the affordable housing trust fund this week. FIU researchers estimate that Broward needs 100,000 new affordable housing units, and this fund will be used exclusively on housing projects and programs – hopefully lowering the cost of housing for hard-working families and helping to prevent additional homelessness in our community.
Ghenete "G" Wright Muir, attorney, Realtor, LGBTQ advocate
Andrew Gillum gloom hit us hard. His candidacy got so many people more engaged in local politics and he came very close to becoming Florida’s first Democratic governor in 20 years. A personal thanks to Mayor Gillum and his supporters for mobilizing the electorate and giving a voice to the voiceless. On a brighter note, Broward now has Judge Jackie Powell and Judge Stefanie Camille Moon, two new Black women on the bench. Across the country there were also many inspiring firsts: Muslim and Native American women were elected to Congress, as well as an openly gay governor.
Anna Fusco, president, Broward Teachers Union
Florida is often the butt of election jokes. Is it any wonder? We overwhelmingly supported to ban offshore drilling, but supported a Governor candidate planning to continue past policies that have polluted our waterways and denied climate change. Is it any wonder? Voters passed local efforts to increase school taxes to give raises to educators, but backed a Senate candidate who as governor severely cut education budgets. Is it any wonder? Now we are facing a recount in several races, partly because the Supervisor of Elections found a lot of unopened absentee ballots but doesn't know how many. Is it any wonder?
Nan Rich, member, Broward County commission
I’m excited that Broward County voters passed two important initiatives on Election Day: the Transportation Surtax and the Broward County Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which passed with 73 percent of the vote! The success of these referenda is due, in no small part, to a strong coalition of community partners, including business and educational leaders, non-profits, municipalities, and other advocates who came together to educate voters. Affordable housing and transportation impact everyone, and it will take an equally strong alliance of stakeholders to ensure that these ballot victories are effectively implemented, resulting in an improved quality of life for our community.
Scott Israel, sheriff, Broward County
As Sheriff, I believe in giving people second chances. I also believe everyone who has the right to vote should be eligible to exercise that right. Rehabilitation, not permanent punishment, produces a far more productive citizenry and also drives down the recidivism rate. In fact, studies show individuals whose voting rights have been restored are three times less likely to reoffend. Amendment Four restores the voting rights of non-violent felons who have fulfilled their sentence. I hope they will use this new opportunity to be productive citizens and not do anything that might jeopardize those rights again.