The Herald recommends: For Miami-Dade County Commission

07/29/2014 7:42 PM

09/17/2014 3:26 PM

DISTRICT 2

In 2010, Jean Monestime became the first challenger in 16 years to oust a sitting member of the County Commission by defeating Dorrin Rolle. Since then, Mr. Monestime, 51, a real-estate broker, has become an effective representative for District 2, which encompasses some of the poorest areas in the county, including Little Haiti and Liberty City. Recently, he won backing to set aside $126 million to extend sewer pipes into underserved business areas like those in his district.

Mr. Rolle is trying to regain this seat. But, as commissioner, he failed to steer clear of ethics complaints and allegations of wrongdoing, which ill-served his already-needy district. He should not be returned to the dais. Mr. Monestime has won the respect of fellow commissioners. One measure of his popularity is reflected in fund-raising. About half of the $500,000 in his campaign chest in mid-June came from donations of $500 or less, according to public records.

Pastor Antwane Dwayne Lenoir is also in this race.

Based on the incumbent’s good record, the Miami Herald recommends for County Commission, District 2, JEAN MONESTIME .

DISTRICT 8

Voters have a chance to broaden the vision and deepen the conversation on the commission dais about making District 8 a better place for all its residents. This is an opportunity that they should not pass up, because the benefits stand to reach far beyond the borders of District 8.

Daniella Levine Cava is challenging incumbent Lynda Bell to represent this urban/rural/commercial/agricultural district to the south. Ms. Bell, 57, has focused on promoting small businesses and sponsoring legislation to make it easier to do business in Miami-Dade. She also helped tighten county ethics rules — which makes some of her missteps befuddling. She writes in the Editorial Board’s questionnaire that, “I treat my position as a privilege and recognize that I’m elected to serve the needs of others, not self.” But she moved to get rid of the county’s ban on chain-link fences in unincorporated areas — without disclosing that her daughter and son-in-law are in the fencing business and could benefit. So much for “open” and “transparent,” as she writes a commissioner must be. It calls into question her judgment as a public servant. So does ensuring that a senior-citizen complex in the district, built with county funds, was named for her mother.

Ms. Levine Cava, 58, brings refreshing thoughtfulness and solid professional experience — outside the realm of politics — that stand to make her an excellent commissioner, in the mold of selfless public servants from Dante Fascell to Bill Sadowski to Bill Lehman, whose accomplishments are still making life better for many South Florida. For decades, Ms. Levine Cava, the founder of Catalyst Miami, soldiered on behalf of low- and middle-income families to help them become, or remain, self sufficient and whole. Catalyst helped develop new approaches to economic and community development. An attorney, she served as legal director for Guardian Ad Litem and filled many other community-focused positions. Ms. Levine Cava has a track record of leadership that can only enhance county governance. For that reason, the Miami Herald recommends for County Commission, District 8, DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA.

DISTRICT 10

Commissioner Javier Souto is being challenged by Marina Meadows, 56, a newcomer who says the district needs fresh blood. Given her unfamiliarity with district issues, her campaign has gotten little traction.

At 75, Mr. Souto, a Bay of Pigs veteran, holds what’s considered the commission’s historic Cuban-exile seat. Souto is old school, and a difficult public servant to beat: His home telephone number is in the book; approach him at Sedano’s and he’ll listen to your complaint about broken sidewalks and foreclosed homes becoming eye sores. A champion of parks, tell him one is not properly illuminated and he’ll call to have it repaired. He knows how to keep his core constituency happy. Good for him.

However, it’s unfortunate that Mr. Souto trips himself up with inappropriate remarks. While defending the contributions of Miami’s Cuban exiles, he offended fellow commissioner Dennis Moss, who is black. He’s also offended Muslims and had to apologize and he bandies about analogies to Nazis. We suggest that at commission meetings, Mr. Souto stay on point and avoid rambling tangents that muddle his good advice. For the Miami-Dade Commission District 10 seat, the Miami Herald recommends JAVIER SOUTO.

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