Mid-April we sent the following questions to our North Miami mayoral and District 2 candidates. As we receive additional responses, we will update this page and date it accordingly.
Responses received as of May 8th:
With the debt the city has incurred, what are your ideas to balance the budget and bring the city back to fiscal responsibility?
Michael Etienne (mayoral candidate): Despite the city's modest population growth since our last U.S. Census, our city leaders (beginning in 2011) drastically increased our budget expenditures in almost every department in city hall (this was the dawn of the friends and family hiring practices and the friends and family get rich vendors' program that plagues city hall to date). With few exceptions, I proposed reverting back to our 2010 expenditure budget for every department and use that as a starting point to begin our journey towards being fiscally responsible.
Esther Blynn (District 2 candidate): We must replenish the reserves, and either locate or replace the missing 6-8 million dollar budget deficit, for which there is no accounting, from funding outside of our City through grants from County State and Federal governments. To accomplish this, the City needs to hire a team—not one or two-- of skilled and successful grant writers, to work full time to identify and apply for funding from all sources. I have the proven experience for this grant team approach, as I have successfully applied for and received funding for seven, (7), federally funded HHS grants for the training of law enforcement, judges, attorneys, DCF counselors, and administrators to improve services to our children and families at risk, as well as our elderly, which are still part of the in-service training curricula at FIU.
We must establish public/private partnerships to uplift economically depressed areas of our City to increase the tax base. I am familiar with these proven programs and have been in contact with those in Orlando for many years. Uplifting these areas of our city will increase the tax base throughout our City, which will greatly ease the tax burden on our District.
We need to carefully re-examine our budget, and find ways to reduce our costs, by adopting, for example, proven self-insurance programs for half the cost of our present health insurance for our employees==programs already in place in other parts of our State, with which I am familiar, and have a working relationship, rather than outsourcing to private entities, as we do presently. We also need to stop funding for annual, duplicitous, wasteful “study” commissions, where we pay for unnecessary travel.
Kevin Burns (District 2 candidate): I don’t have strong confidence in the current city administration or the process they use to form our yearly budgets. We have been running a true deficit and not just by accounting methods. We are paying too much for many of the contracts that we have issued and many contain change orders that are unreasonable. We must live within our means and spend only the money that is reoccurring as the base for our budget. All the major expenditures should be based on the benefit to the city.
Michael McDearmaid (District 2 candidate): This is not an area where simplistic answers that may sound appealing are likely to solve our challenges. I think that every area of the budget needs to have a relook and rethink from the standpoint of revenues as well as expenditures. On the expenditure side, smaller items such as the parties, events, and trips add up and deserve as much attention as major city expenditures, which we must also ensure are properly vetted prior to their approval or allocation. Carefully planned development in the center of our city which increases our tax base, and which reinvigorates our existing business corridors, is part of the solution. As we look to turn the corner on the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to be realistic in significantly limiting sponsored community events that have begun to bloat our budget. As safety precautions and limitations change this is an ideal time for our city to re-evaluate the cost/benefit of many of these special, city-sponsored events. Our current District 2 Councilwoman Carol Keys has historically and comparatively utilized far less of the city funds for these expenses in part to help reduce wasteful spending. I would take a similar approach as I believe we need to be realistic about ways to cut waste to be fiscally sustainable.
Hector Medina (District 2 candidate): The City of North Miami faces an enormous financial strain. This problem is mostly a self-inflicted wound— the result of reckless spending on parties and festivals, giant checks to management staff, cronyism and incompetence, and settlements of unnecessary lawsuits.
The situation is out of control. Thankfully, it’s one that can be fixed by (1) stopping all frivolous spending on events, (2) re-examining the personnel expenses for top staff, (3) strengthening our civil service provisions, and (4) making elected officials accountable for lawsuits that stem from their misconduct. As councilman, I will make fixing our public finances my most urgent priority, relying on my decades of experience administering large medical organizations and my years of fighting for accountability in North Miami.
Everything is on the table. The only thing I will fight to keep from cuts is our public safety budget. Lobbyists pushing the city to settle for less, free-spending bureaucrats and former elected officials led us to this point. Unlike most of my opponents, I am not a lobbyist, former bureaucrat, or former elected official-- I wasn’t part of the clique that led our city to financial ruin. Instead, I will be a part of the solution. Besides the cuts and reforms described above, I would move to significantly boost grant-writing activity and advocacy meant to win non-profit, county, state, and federal grants for the City. One final point: I believe in leading by example. Unlike my opponent Kevin Burns, who said at a public event that elected official benefits “don’t amount to a hill of beans”, I neither need nor am interested in the frivolous perks of elected office. I will not accept the luxury car stipend and I will cut my own salary as council member. I challenge my fellow D2 candidates to (Response cut off at 300-word limit.)
William "Webbie" Welsh (District 2 candidate): Bring back the red light cameras could bring in substantial funds. Something like 80% of the tickets were to drivers that did not live in North Miami and I believe that the city took in nearly 3 million dollars. That alone is about half the deficit. Small cuts to the rest of the budget and a realistic projection of income would help solve this issue along with fiduciary responsibilities
Jessica Wolland (District 2 candidate): We need to focus on spending WISELY instead of simply spending. There should be a differentiation between needs and wants. We need to prioritize paying down our debt, infrastructure, flood mitigation etc. Parties, special events, and other items that don’t contribute to resolving community or residents’ needs to be less of a priority. When the council voted on furloughs and cutbacks, they needed to set the example and take pay cuts themselves.
What are your commitments to fight the Next Gen by the FAA with planes flying directly over North Miami?
Etienne: I commit to fight those plans with all legal resources at our disposal.
Blynn: This has long been a priority for me. Through SSVGHO and KPHA, jointly, I have lobbied for the FAA to revoke its approval of the current flight plan in place permitting low-flying planes over our City causing noise pollution and debris, posing a threat to all of us. On my own initiative, I demanded that our Mayor and Council take the lead in seeking the revocation of the FAA approval, and I am advised that our federal lobbyist, is now belatedly involved and that our City Attorney has filed a Motion pending in Court. To prevail, we must be joined by other Cities through the Miami-Dade County League of Cities to adopt a Resolution seeking revocation, including all 34 municipalities, as has been done successfully in the past for other Cities experiencing similar problems from MIA. I would request an appointment with the Dade League. Further, I would insist that our City Attorney follow through with legal proceedings, and not abandon its obligations to us.
Burns: The city of North Miami, along with other communities have begun legal actions and these proceeding are ongoing at this time. I will continue to support that process.
McDearmaid: I commit to work closely with our neighbors who are also being directly impacted by these flight paths and the exponentially increased overhead air traffic that comes along with it. I have built real relationships with and would partner with our neighboring elected officials and municipal governments in Bay Harbor Islands, Surfside, Bal Harbour, Biscayne Park and North Bay Village in continuing to lobby and work closely with our legislators at the federal level. I would also commit to fully leverage my relationships at the county and state level to help strengthen our collective advocacy on this effort. I commit to working collaboratively not only with the above-mentioned elected officials and representatives but also residents and homeowners associations within and outside our municipality. We must fight for not only a decrease in overhead flights but also an increase in altitudes of those flights coupled with increased federal lobbying. I am currently in discussion exploring whether we can push these flight paths from crossing within 5 miles over certain native habitats (and neighboring areas) like Oleta State Park and the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve which are part of Biscayne National Park. It seems logical that as the flightpaths disrupt our residents, they also disrupt our already threatened protected native species and environmental habitats. I would form an expanded coalition that cannot be ignored. While I hope that our legal efforts and actions are fruitful, I know that we cannot hang our hopes on any single solution. We need to be creative in approaching this issue from every legitimate angle we can.
Medina: As council member, I would support and fight for the FAA to move its proposed flight plan so that traffic flying out of MIA goes out to the Atlantic Ocean before turning north or west. Ideally, the route would be one that goes out over Virginia Key and over the Ocean. While the FAA is moving forward in its process to enact these new flight patterns, there are things North Miami elected officials can and should do, beyond just passing symbolic resolutions on this matter. ● Work with the City of Miami, the City of North Bay Village, Miami-Dade County, North Miami Beach, Biscayne Park and Miami Gardens, as well as organizations invested in the health of Biscayne Bay, to fund an effective counter-lobbying effort at the federal level that will delay the implementation of the plan. If needed, join with these cities to sue the federal government. Because of relationships with elected officials and community advocates throughout the County, and because I do not take “no” for an answer, I believe I am the candidate most suited to actually making sure this coalition materializes. ● Push for the County, which operates MIA, to fund and publish alternatives to the FAA’s plan based on capacity needs at that airport. This will put into perspective the “efficiency” claims the FAA is making, and show authoritatively that there is a way to modify the federal government’s proposed plan to what we desire. ● Begin working with Opa-Locka Executive Airport to understand and manage how THEIR flights are affecting our community. That airport has seen a 30% increase in traffic over the past three years and will keep growing, which is adding to the increased congestion residents of Keystone see right now.
Welsh: I understand that this is in the court. An increase in altitude to 10,000 feet for fly-overs would reduce noise and increase the safety of both passengers and those of us that live on the ground.
Wolland: Creating awareness is key. Residents need to be informed and educated on how they can contribute to opposing the new flight paths. As an example, I walked part of Keystone to ensure residents knew how to complain if they were opposed. I myself filed a complaint with the FAA and joined Sky Justice Miami. To keep myself informed, I also attended the meeting with Jessica, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson’s aide. The mayor and the rest of the council will need to take this seriously as well.
What are your plans to support our current parks and add additional parks and open spaces?
Etienne: Considering our current financial crisis in the city, we are in no viable position to invest in our current parks no add additional parks and open spaces. My short-term goal is to seek federal, state, and county funding to invest in our parks and/or add additional parks and open spaces.
Blynn: I plan to reinstate our membership in America in Bloom for the installation of small parks in open space, otherwise unused by the City, re-involve ourselves in the Playful Cities USA national program, and engage with other national programs, such as Kaboom to obtain at nominal cost, playground installations for our families, including for our seniors. Other Cities throughout the US have obtained funding for this, and we need to do the same.
Burns: As Mayor, I invested more money and resources in our parks and recreation department than in the previous 25 years. I had all the facilities repaired, painted, roofs replaced, playground equipment updated, and additional summer programs were provided. I started a process to save the oaks trees at the Enchanted Forest from the deadly potato vines that had overtaken the park and killing the trees. I had the horse stalls and corrals rebuilt. I believe parks and green open spaces are very important factors to the livability of a strong community. I will continue to do my part to protect and expand our parks and programming. As a result of these efforts, the City of North Miami Park department was recognized with several awards.
McDearmaid: I’m very impressed by some of the native habitat work that we’ve been able to accomplish with even the smallest greenspaces. This helps to foster and create a more sustainable environment and can help to naturally harden our city spaces from the threat of sea level rise.
Maintaining the mangroves along the Biscayne Park is something I am passionate about, and potentially expanding these native barriers across 123rd into the White House Inn property is worth discussion. I would like to see that any future development outside of Keystone incorporates expanding and/or enhancing existing greenspaces.
I am interested in securing additional greenspace and the creation of pocket parks wherever possible.
I also believe we can make some limited improvements in the Keystone Park pavilion, which could use some touching up. We must work together with private and non-profit entities to supplement our work as a city to preserve, expand and enhance our greenspaces.
Medina: During this campaign, I’ve heard concerns, especially from our senior citizens, that we don’t have enough open spaces that feel safe. It is for them, as well as our children and young families, that I commit to increasing parks and open spaces in our city. I will also push the County to update the dated infrastructure at Elaine Gordon Park and try to make sure any redevelopment of the Johnson and Wales site includes public green spaces. I believe in creating public green spaces for enjoyment in our Main Street area in accordance with the excellent plans our community saw and approved as recently as 2014. I favor creating stronger public space requirements for any developer who wants to pursue changes of zoning or use. I will push the County to provide new public green spaces as part of any redevelopment that occurs along the train tracks related to a new train station in District 2. When and if the small warehouse and light industrial area of District 2 by NE 14th Avenue begins to be redeveloped, I will make sure creating new public green spaces there is a land-use priority.
Welsh: I would like to finish the parks and increase upkeep. I would also like to create more parks, namely the White House inn land and maybe one on the current Johnson and Wales Property.
Wolland: As an 18yr veteran of the North Miami Parks & Recreation department, parks, open spaces, and public programs is a subject I’m passionate about. In North Miami, there is a quote “It Starts in Parks”. We need to rebuild our Cagni and Griffing Park and Griffing Park Community Center and add a SOLE MIA public park. I would also welcome a cultural center in the future.
Firstly, we need to get our Parks & Rec programs back up and running. I understand that due to Covid 19 adjustments needed to be made. It’s important that we now re-open all of our parks and Tot Lots in particular. I am inspired by the parks in Miami Beach such as Sabrina’s Park, Lummus Park, and Scott Rakow Youth Center because they incorporate ADA, multi-sensory playground equipment, and have other well-thought-out design elements. (Lummus has an adult fitness portion that looks like it is actually a white sculpture. It has artistic elements, Sabrina’s Park has amazing ADA built-in, Scott Rackow Youth Center I remember as a child in the 90’s, Ice Skating and Swimming and bowling in the same building. It still has the same amazing experience as a youth HUB)
Usually, I speak of saving money and being financially conservative. In this case, I am in favor of being ahead of the curve and our time. Our parks and community centers, once built, stay up for 30-40 years. This is not simply a spend. It is an investment in the future and in our families. Our Parks brings the community together. As the density of our city increases with new development, new parks and open spaces are more important than ever. We need to increase our services and serve more people. (Response cut off at 300-word limit.)
New development and growth are important to residents of Keystone Point and throughout the City; However, growth without deep considerations of long-term effects can be counterproductive. What is your vision for the future growth in North Miami? What do you foresee for the Johnson and Wales property; for the White House Inn? How do you feel about the need for a supermajority for zoning changes?
Etienne: We need lots of new developments in our city to become a viable city with a healthy ad valorem tax base. However, such development must be responsible, it shall not drastically differ from the consistently established structures in the immediate surrounding area. I support a supermajority for zoning changes. At this moment, I am not sure what I foresee for the Johnson and Wales property and/or the White House Inn.
Blynn: The future growth in North Miami must include a prohibition against selling any more of our remaining land for which there are 99 and 199 leases. Development by private developers must be put out for bid properly with an RFP and RFB, with conditions for meaningful local preferences, which should be viewed as a benefit for the developer, rather than a burden. Recent development approval was not put out for bid, and there is already resistance to compliance with local preference for contractors and subcontractors on the project before the project has broken ground. The White House Inn should not become a commercial property, but rather a condominium, or mixed-use, compatible with the surrounding residential areas, with no increase above the current height restrictions. The Johnson and Wales properties should be used, if not for another College or University, for a mixed-use development, even including student housing for FIU. I agree with a supermajority vote for zoning changes to avoid development that is contrary to the City's master plan.
Burns: The city could benefit from the new growth taking place in South Florida and North Miami if it is managed correctly or we could have a city that is dysfunctional. I believe we can protect the single-family neighborhoods from unwanted tall buildings with the step-back transitional methods of height placement. This District 2 is where the most redevelopment is and will be taking place in the coming ten years. I believe I have the most experience of all the other candidates as I had to make some of those decisions. The Johnson and Wales 28 parcels of property that is under contract, with a purchase closing date this July is of major concern to me. The buyers have not been as open about their plans with the city and surrounding neighbors that I would expect. I do know the firm is in the process of selling off many pieces of those properties at this time to individual developers and institutions. Every one of the parcels of land will need to be rezoned and we will then be able to have a say on the future of that area. There are no plans for the White House Inn at this time that I am aware of, the current zoning is in place. This property at some time in the future will come before the council and at that time the council and community will have the chance to view what is proposed. I believe the supermajority should stay in place.
Medina: 1. Regarding the Johnson and Wales site-- it is imperative the City get a handle on the possible uses for this site. Yes, this is private property. But if it is bought and re-zoned into another Biscayne Landing, it will be awful for North Miami’s quality of life and more generally, be a huge missed opportunity. I believe the D2 councilperson should be on the phone non-stop with the Beacon Council and other economic development organizations, working to attract a single institutional tenant there: another university, a medical center, a tech company HQ with guaranteed high-paying jobs, in short, something we can all be proud of.
2. Regarding the White House Inn -- it needs to be a plan that makes sense for that site and doesn’t make the neighbors miserable. A giant tower, or a towering car dealership like the one my opponent Kevin Burns lobbied the city for, is not acceptable.
3. Regarding a supermajority for zoning changes -- Yes, it is the current law; let’s keep it that way.
4. We have a very unhealthy cycle going on right now in North Miami. Elected officials, their friends, and families draining the public purse have brought our city’s finances to its knees. That leaves unelected bureaucrats scrambling to plug the budget (and therefore save their high-paying jobs) by growing the tax base through any project, no matter how outrageous it appears to be. The push to become more like Doral or downtown Miami is not a bug, it’s a feature. As a council member, I will use all my powers to push against this unhealthy cycle. I moved to North Miami largely because of its charm and beauty, the fact that within a half-mile, you can walk from “Main Street, U.S.A.” to the mangroves on... (Response cut off at 300-word limit.)
McDearmaid: I believe there are areas in our district that are appropriate for and even in need of modest development in scale and tenor with the surrounding neighborhood character and needs. We must focus on smart development, not on development at all costs. I do favor keeping the supermajority rule in place.
In Keystone we are not in need of new development. The future of the White House Inn property must minimally be kept within scale and not negatively impact, block the views or impede the privacy of homeowners in Keystone. It also must not change the character of the neighborhood. Considering the many years of contentious debate, I would like to carefully consider the possibility of our city converting some portion of the property into a native habitat and mangrove preserve greenspace. Small two-story townhomes with a native privacy buffer could also be worth discussion. If planned correctly, we could offer residents another beautiful greenspace and work to improve both our sustainability and quality of life. While I recognize that the Johnson & Wales property is also a private property, it would be nice to attract developers interested in a medical facility and greenspace for our residents.
Welsh: Supermajority has to be kept. I would like to make it stronger by requiring that the councilperson whose district is being affected must vote in favor of the project. I believe development is needed but it must be smart development that the residents want. As for the Johnson and Wales property, I would like to see a park I also believe North Miami needs a proper hospital as the 3 main hospitals are far enough away that during an emergency one may not survive the trip. As per the White House inn, the only thing that makes sense to me is a part.
Wolland: The White House Inn and Johnson and Wales are both Private Properties. With Private Property Rights. My vision for the Johnson and Wales property is that the new owners will do something within their current zoning rights without encroaching on existing neighborhoods. It is a private parcel and does not belong to the city. When the owners decide what they would like to do, it will go before the planning and zoning commission and eventually the city council. Johnson and Wales did bring young people to our community. They brought a sense of vibrancy to what was once North Miami General Hospital and a mental health hospital!
A supermajority vote for zoning changes is a double-edged sword. Positive because the district where the change would be made would need to be in favor of the project. Therefore, getting the change to take place would require the immediate neighbors to be in favor. The Negative side is that the neighbors are rarely in favor of development. A popular opinion is that everyone loves a ‘new shiny development project… until it is next to your home.
How do you feel about administrative variances?
Etienne: I oppose administrative variances. All variances (minor or major) should go through the appropriate city boards (e.g.: Planning /commission and/or Board of Adjustment) and on to the full council for a vote.
Blynn: I generally am not in favor of these if you are referring to the application for non-use variances, Section 3-604A, mostly for residential properties, and some businesses. In the absence of strict standards, even with the consent of without the written, informed consent of the adjacent and nearby property owners, detailing what actually will be the nature and extent of the variance, and its effect is often not transparent.
Burns: Administrative variance serves a needed purpose with the process is not abused.
McDearmaid: I believe that the policy of administrative variances needs to be reviewed. I believe in some cases that it sidesteps the public input on projects that deprives the citizens of their input on a project.
Medina: Administrative variances are a Frankenstein monster of our zoning code that was championed by my opponent Kevin Burns, when he was mayor, as a giveaway to special interests. I would push to eliminate administrative variances and replace them with what is more customary in other cities-- case-by-case variance applications that must meet an extremely high bar and always face a public vote at the council level. I would push for a change of the zoning code to allow a council member veto powers on a variance decision if it occurs in his or her district, something that exists in cities in the Northeast.
As a matter of Florida law, variances should ONLY be granted by any municipality in our state in truly exceptional situations, when NOT granting a variance would make a piece of land completely unusable. Instead, the lobbyists working the refs in North Miami, our bureaucrats, and current elected officials treat variances as something that MUST be granted whenever a developer checks off certain requirements and makes enough campaign contributions. I will push against this in the council and support any challenges to our current variance mechanism in court if needed.
Welsh: I know Keystone is unhappy about them and I am not in favor of them.
Wolland: An administrative variance is when a request is given to the administration to deviate from certain requirements in the Zoning ordinance. When granted, the owner is then able to use the property in a different way than what is listed in the Zoning laws. They are granted on a case-by-case basis. It depends on the situation. Does the variance they are requesting help or hurt the community?
What would be your solution to code problems with homeowners who do not upkeep their property in the city in the quest to beautify the city?
Etienne: We need to hire a competent code enforcement director with the necessary experience and competence to enforce our laws. The current director got her job through the family and friends hiring practices that have plagued North Miami for years. Case in point, when code became an independent department after separating from the police department a code director was needed to fill that position. The city decided not to post the position for members of the public to apply for the job, they decided instead to appoint her as the "Interim Code Director"; this was more than 2 years ago. To date, the position was never posted to allow the most qualified candidates an opportunity to apply for the position; hence, we probably have one of the most insufficient code departments in the South Florida region.
Blynn: Current code enforcement efforts to cite violators and fine them, have generally been unsuccessful, with very few repeat or egregious violators having the imposition of liens on their properties. The number of code enforcement officers needs to be increased, and training improved. Code enforcement must be returned to the supervision and control of our Police Department. Enforcement for violation, the period of time for compliance needs to shorten, and the fines increased. If none of these measures prove successful, the imposition of City liens through the Courts, recorded in the public records needs to be a priority, giving the City leverage to seek foreclosure on these liens.
Burns: The city should enforce the rules and regulations already in place, which would greatly affect the outcome for compliance; all the legal enforcement methods are available if the city to use.
McDearmaid: Code enforcement has been problematic for some time now. It is another example of a relook and rethink. I would support as an option that Code enforcement go back under the police department. This would increase accountability in enforcing individual standards.
I also support strict enforcement, reducing compliance time, and expanding our code enforcement capacities and enforcement officer trainings. We need to ensure code is enforced consistently, not subject to influence of political pressures, and to identify areas of inconsistency and inefficiencies.
Medina: As I have stated publicly at several events, I would move to make the code compliance department a part of the police department, so that it is insulated from political interference by the city manager and the elected officials. This is how it used to be six years ago and it worked well. I believe doing this will lead to more efficient and fair enforcement of our city’s code, which will address the issue of homeowners with blighted lots.
Additionally, I would ask for an audit of the city’s funds distributed over the prior six years meant for housing improvement and upkeep. The city has given out millions for this, but very little to District 2 residents. I would make sure there is a fairer allocation of these funds.
Welsh: Codes need to change so that people comply and don’t keep breaking codes repeatedly.
Wolland: We go through the code compliance process. I think we need to understand the root cause for the issue as well. If it is a financial issue and you’re in the CRA zone the owner might be able to obtain a CRA grant to help them. Many times a problem is not that someone simply wants their home to be ‘ugly’ it may be an ability issue such as financial or social. Perhaps they are disabled. We need to check if it is a code issue or a social services issue. Now that city has a social services department perhaps they can also help determine.
What is your greatest accomplishment that has benefited the City of North Miami residents?
Etienne: As the elected city clerk, I always carried a year-end budget surplus every year (8 years) in my department. Under my leadership as city clerk, on a least 2-3 occasions, the United States Department of State awarded the clerk department an award for "providing exemplary services" because of our robust passport program (an award never awarded to the clerk department before I arrived and since I departed 2 years ago).
Blynn: I introduced programs in which the City has, in the past, participated to improve our parks, and open spaces, as well as incorporate the services of our college and Universities, in participating in City events, as well as for the assignment of interns, not only at our public schools, but in partnership with our local businesses, our museums and our library to enrich our City, and for the years of my bono legal services to our City for which I was recognized by the unanimous vote of our Mayor and City Council by Proclamation of the City of North Miami, first on August 22, 2002, and last year by our current Mayor and Council declaring March 10, 2020, as Esther T. Blynn Day in the City of North Miami for my 46 years of successful service for the benefit of our City residents and businesses.
Burns: Serving as our twice-elected Mayor from May of 2005 until June 2009. The list of accomplishments for the city during my terms is very long. The five new schools, balanced budgets, strong code enforcement, park upgrades, the recycling program, tech upgrades, faster permitting. North Miami was named all American city in 2010 for the programs I put in place. We were also recognized on the national and state level among others cities as one of the best. Having the right leader with the proven experience does make a difference.
McDearmaid: My longtime service on non-profit boards in and around the city, such as the North Miami Foundation for Senior Citizens and the Police Athletic League, together with my service on numerous boards in the city, is probably my greatest accomplishment in terms of impact on the residents, as well as total hours devoted to the city and its residents.
For example, my work with the North Miami Foundation for Senior Citizens, of which I am the current president, serves our local senior citizens population in providing food, shelter and opportunities for our seniors to maintain independence and enjoy a higher quality of life. In addition, I have contributed decades of consistent, continuous service in North Miami to preserving proper adherence to the rules and regulations adopted on behalf of the citizens of our community and not allowing an open season on our codes and ordinances.
Medina: Several years ago, I fought an industrial dry cleaner in my neighborhood that was operating illegally, polluting our environment, poisoning our children, and keeping the neighbors up at night. It was an outrageous situation of a literally toxic corporation being tacitly protected by elected officials. I made a huge amount of noise, going all the way to Washington DC to get environmental regulators involved. Eventually, the attention forced the city to take the issue seriously. The dry cleaner folded and left.
A few years after that, I was part of the grassroots coalition that stood against the wasteful general obligation bond. I was the first to vote against it when the polls opened and worked tirelessly to educate my neighbors. I was at the polling site 12 hours a day for five days, making sure to stop corrupt political operatives who were openly trying to buy people’s votes. We showed how people's power could defeat something, even if all our elected officials wanted it.
Both these accomplishments made our city better, by preventing our residents from being hurt. In that, I brought to bear the same credo I took up when I became a physician four decades ago, and one that I will bring into office: primum non nocere -- first, do no harm.
Welsh: I have fought for residents in many areas. I fought against the annexation of 16 Avenue by Biscayne Park. I got the deep injection well hooked up on 123 street to help stop the flooding but still not good enough for me. I fought the bond issue with the help of KPHA board members.
Wolland: I take pride in my 18 years with the North Miami Parks & Recreation as the only ballet teacher in the city’s program. It has given children the opportunity to stand tall and believe in themselves. I have always worked hard to ensure the next generation gets a chance to know our city and that what we do will impact their future. From a very young age, I was taught the value of community. My father has served as Mayor, Councilman, and City Clerk of North Miami. His example of service has led me to a lifelong dedication to my community whether through volunteering, serving on various boards, rebuilding parks, collaborating with the library, or collecting school supplies. My fondest accomplishment is being present and involved in my community.