The Council’s Columns: Councilwoman Shannan “Lady” Ighodaro

Looking back at our journey as a City and considering the changes we’ve experienced, it’s clear that in order to move forward, we must reflect on our origins and embrace growth. At Miami Gardens’ 20th-year anniversary celebration, we honored the visionary leadership of our first female Mayor, Shirley Gibson, recognizing that the City was built on her vision and the contributions of those who came before us.

Policy, Systems, and Environment

Policy will play a crucial role in shaping our City. We must enact policies that promote law enforcement, economic development, and growth while preserving our unique identity as the largest African-American City in the state. As an immigrant and the first Bahamian-born elected official in Miami Gardens, I am committed to preserving our core values of leadership, family, community, education, and ministry, upholding our principles, even in the face of progress. 

A key initiative for commerce is our Business Residence Economic Program (BREP), which ensures that local businesses make money as the City grows, keeping money within Miami Gardens and creating a self-sustaining economy. The Weatherization Program provides essential home repairs for seniors, and our Beautification Program enhances the aesthetics of homes through painting, driveway repairs, and porch upgrades. 

Our communities are made up of families, and I really believe that we, as public servants and policymakers, owe it to those residents and families to listen. Through initiatives like my Uni’TEA town hall meetings, held on the first Wednesday of each month, I bring the government closer to the people, allowing them to enjoy the natural beauty of our award-winning parks while engaging in meaningful discussions. My office also sends a quarterly newsletter where you can learn about everything happening in Seat 3.

Through partnerships with organizations like Live Healthy Miami Gardens, we have empowered residents to grow their own fruits and vegetables in portable gardens. This type of environmental sustainability, where residents can go into their backyards for food, promotes self-sufficiency and resilience.

Our seniors hold a special place in my heart. Some have lived in our City longer than I have been alive. I continually encourage them to utilize the Senior Center for everything from exercise to group sessions and hot meals. I host special events like the Senior Prom, founded more than 10 years ago by Dr. Erhabor Ighodaro, and senior Valentine’s Day celebrations.

Recently, we had a devastating fire that impacted over 200 families in the community. My office worked to address their needs and facilitated the donation of clothing and toiletries, gift cards, and laptops. Collaborating with the Miami-Dade Fire Department, we have installed more than 200 smoke detectors to enhance home safety. 

I have also organized clean-up initiatives in partnership with local organizations. And I have worked alongside the New World Symphony and the Black Affairs Advisory Board to bring music from the Harlem Renaissance period to the Betty T. Ferguson Recreational Center.

Looking Ahead

For the rest of this year, I will continue focusing on senior programming, economic development, and supporting small businesses through initiatives like the Made in Miami Gardens Equal Opportunity Grant. As hurricane season progresses, we will ensure our residents have the resources to weather any storm. Ultimately, my commitment remains unwavering — to be there for our residents as Miami Gardens continues to flourish. After three years in office, I have really seen Miami Gardens change for the better, and I am eager to continue advocating for the voices of our community.

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