Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade commissioners elect a new leader as the era of incumbency nears an end

Commissioner Audrey Edmonson after being elected to serve as chairwoman of the Miami-Dade County Commission in 2019 and 2020. She was unanimously elected by the 13-member County Commission on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018.
Commissioner Audrey Edmonson after being elected to serve as chairwoman of the Miami-Dade County Commission in 2019 and 2020. She was unanimously elected by the 13-member County Commission on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. dhanks@miamiherald.com

Commissioner Audrey Edmonson won a unanimous vote to become the Miami-Dade commission’s next chair on Tuesday, a powerful position that controls the flow of legislation to the 13-member board.

Edmonson faced no outward rivals in her bid to become chairwoman, a turnaround from the 2014 contest that saw her come up short in an election that installed Commissioner Jean Monestime as the board’s chairman. Edmonson currently serves as vice chair under Esteban “Steve” Bovo, whose chairmanship concludes at the end of the year.

The contest for chair is closely watched by insiders, since Edmonson will have authority over which items make it to the agenda and selects chairs for the committees that can kill legislation before it arrives before the board. Edmonson selected Commissioner Rebeca Sosa to serve as vice chairwoman of the board, and she was also elected unanimously.

Edmonson’s election will be the final one before the current slate of incumbent commissioners gets broken up by term-limit rules approved by voters in 2012. The six commissioners reelected in 2016, including Edmonson, must leave office by 2020. Another five, including Sosa, must leave by 2022 after winning reelection earlier this year.

Once she takes over from Bovo in January, Edmonson will be the sixth of the current commissioners to serve as chair of the board. Along with Bovo and Monestime, former chairs include Sosa, Joe Martinez and Dennis Moss.

Edmonson is one of the non-partisan board’s seven Democrats, a majority created in June when Eileen Higgins won a special election to replace Republican Bruno Barreiro. The Higgins win also shifted the ethnic make-up of the board, which lost its Hispanic majority with Barreiro’s departure to run for Congress.

A former El Portal mayor, Edmonson has served on the commission since 2005. She represents District 3, which includes downtown Miami and the neighborhoods of Liberty City, Little Haiti and Wynwood.

Under Bovo, Edmonson served as housing chair and headed up a Building Safer Neighborhoods committee that focused on crime data, youth violence and gun deaths. She evoked that work in her comments after her election Tuesday morning, ticking off priorities that include transportation, affordable housing and addressing climate change.

“I will continue to work with you to eradicate crime and put an end to the senseless gun violence that is wreaking havoc on our community,” she said.

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