It is an honor to serve as county commissioner for District 8. Nov. 18 marked my first anniversary in office, a time for reflection and renewed commitment.
My priority is to improve our residents’ quality of life and ensure that we receive our fair share of county resources. South Miami-Dade is unique and special. It has beautiful parks, friendly neighborhoods and precious open spaces, including thriving farmland. We have great and diverse cultural life, including theaters and music venues, and a mix of nationalities, ethnicities and backgrounds, all enriching our quality of our lives.
I am dedicated to maintaining South Dade’s remarkable character while encouraging smart growth and economic development to build our prosperity, create jobs closer to home, and preserve our strong communities.
Prior to coming to office I founded and led a nonprofit organization, Catalyst Miami, that focused on similar concerns. We succeeded when we brought people together to develop shared vision and action plans.
Applying what I learned, we decided to hold the first ever South Dade Solutions Summit (www.miamidade.gov/district08/releases/2015-06-06-south-dade-solutions-summit.asp) in June 2015, covering all of South Miami-Dade. Commissioner Dennis Moss and I brought together 200 stakeholders to discuss opportunities and challenges.
We set priorities, established goals and identified a leadership team of commissioners, mayors and managers of Cutler Bay, Palmetto Bay, Homestead, Pinecrest and Florida City. The leadership team developed the South Dade Success Plan, focusing on the three key areas discussed at the summit — the environment, transportation and the economy.
Seven months later, we are eager to report our progress and accomplishments to the community through our South Dade Success Plan Mid-Year Report (www.miamidade.gov/district08/library/south-dade-summit-mid-year.pdf). We launched the Parks for People initiative (www.miamidade.gov/district08/releases/2015-09-17-parks-for-people-initiative-gains-increase-in-parks-budget.asp), that helped secure a 20 percent increase in parks funding. Commissioner Moss and I fought to preserve our farmland and hold the urban development boundary. I sponsored a preference in county contracts (www.miamidade.gov/district08/releases/2015-05-05-purchase-local-goods.asp) for locally grown produce and products and we both championed innovation in agriculture.
In the transportation area, my office obtained funds to revisit the South Link Study and analyze the feasibility of light rail on the busway.
Meanwhile, we supported the acquisition (www.miamidade.gov/district08/releases/2015-11-09-unveil-new-county-buses.asp) of over a dozen 60-foot hybrid “bending” buses to provide immediate relief to the crowded South Dade Busway. All improvements made on the busway also will serve for a future light rail system, which the five South Dade mayors also support.
A strong economy is the key to a flourishing South Dade. District 8 put together the first Small Business Academy (www.miamidade.gov/district08/releases/2015-11-17-small-business-academy.asp) to serve this essential sector. For two months, entrepreneurs gathered weekly to learn growth strategies and meet with capital lenders. Districts 8 and 9 awarded Mom and Pop Grants to dozens of small businesses through a competitive process. Inspired by Mom and Pop, I established a competitive program for nonprofits, “Impact Grants.”
We will repeat both programs this year. And this year’s summit will focus on marketing the region with a special emphasis on ecotourism and agritourism.
Your input is vital to our success. Please join our mailing list at www.miamidade.gov/district08/ and follow our social media pages to stay up to date (Twitter: @dlcava Facebook: /CommissionerCava). We cannot succeed in our quality of life goals for South Dade without your partnership. Thank you!