Jim Araiza is running for mayor of Palmetto Bay in the Nov. 2 election.
A 43-year resident, he and his wife, Jana Sheeder, grew up in the community and have long been active in civic matters.
“I am running for mayor to tackle our biggest challenge — to balance grand visions with the community’s financial realities,” Araiza said. “If we are to fulfill the will of the people, we need to bring property tax relief and greater discipline in spending to the forefront of issues.
“For the past few months, I have walked from home to home, visited with hundreds of residents and listened to what issues are important to their families. One message came through, loud and clear. We in Palmetto Bay are not immune to the economic turmoil that confronts our county, our state, and our nation.”
Araiza believes that his background and skills will be especially helpful in fulfilling the duties of mayor of Palmetto Bay.
“The most important skill I will bring to the Mayor’s Office is my most basic talent — I listen,” Araiza said. “When you listen to the residents, you realize they are rejecting candidates and incumbents who boast government and political experience.
“Regular folks want conservative, common-sense leadership. Relying on 25 years of executive and corporate finance experience, I will introduce money-saving and revenue-generating ideas to help keep the village on solid financial ground. I believe there are workable solutions available that will enhance our quality of life without creating a hardship for taxpayers and residents.”
Araiza cites his experience as a certified public accountant and certified financial planner, and years at the helm of large, private enterprises as honing his ability to lead.
“With a ‘real-world’ background, I am the most qualified candidate to direct our financial affairs and expand the transparency of our village administration,” Araiza said.
Among his top priority goals if he is elected mayor are several things he considers to be of critical importance.
“My responsibility as mayor is to put aside my interests, and listen and focus on the will of the residents,” Araiza said. “After meeting so many kind folks, one on one, our primary mission is clear — to increase village government transparency and accountability, to seek sound budgetary processes and fair council policies, and to promote active resident participation in our community.
“Residents are also concerned with the financial impact of rules and actions by various entities outside the village, notably different levels of government such as the county and state, and commercial interests, like insurance companies,” he said. “We must protect our residents’ health, safety, and well-being. As mayor, I will work to establish a residents’ Advocacy Policy to champion property insurance relief, petition for environmental protection, and hold the line on our county’s urban development boundary.”
Araiza is a graduate of Christopher Columbus High School and earned his Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from St. Thomas University, with post-graduate work to become a CFP and CPA. He was the owner of James J. Araiza, PA, Certified Public Accountants, and is on the board of directors of Optical Management Advisors and SailAway Yacht Charter Consultants Inc., a business he and his wife run.
He is a member of the Palmetto Bay Business Association (PBBA), Caribbean Yacht Charter Association (CYBA) and Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association Network (MYBAnet).
Araiza is a board member of South Florida Hearts United (pediatric care foundation) and Dade County Sports Foundation Inc. (athletic programs for underprivileged youth). He was a contributing political columnist for Community Newspapers’ Palmetto Bay monthly edition in 2006-07 and, since 2009, managing editor of Eye on Palmetto Bay Community Blog.
He has done volunteer work for the Miami-Dade Police Department Animal Services Unit, Miami-Dade Rescue Railroad, Sanctuary Animal Refuge, Village of Palmetto Bay (Special Events Committee), Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens, and Adopt-a-Pet.
Araiza said his parents, John and Frances Araiza, instilled a deep sense of small town pride in him and that their commitment to church, neighborhood, and local charities set the tone for his own pledge to community service. He also credits his wife, Jana Sheeder, for her major role in the community and his life.
“It is Jana who constantly reminds me of the quote by Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world,’” Araiza said.
He said he has sought to create effective change in the village and South Florida and hopes to continue.
“We have an opportunity and a challenge — to come together, work as one, and make Palmetto Bay and South Florida a better place to live,” Araiza said. “I truly believe we can bring conservative, common sense ideas straight from the residents to Village Hall.”
For more information, visit his website at <www.jimaraiza2010.com/>.