Focus like a laser on Miami-Dade’s challenges, Mr. Bovo — they are many

Miami Herald Editorial Board

Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo is given the oath as Miami-Dade Commission chairman by Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo is given the oath as Miami-Dade Commission chairman by Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Miami-Dade County

Welcome to the hot seat, Mr. Bovo.

On Monday, Miami-Dade Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo Jr. was sworn in as chairman. Bovo is a savvy conservative politician from Hialeah who served as state legislator from 2008 to 2011 before being elected to the county board. He is also the son of a Bay of Pigs veteran.

Bovo was elected by his peers to lead the team of 13 commissioners responsible for fixing the problems that ail the county’s almost 3 million residents.

Starting Tuesday, Commission Chair Bovo and Mayor Carlos Gimenez will be considered “the faces” of county hall.

If your trash isn’t picked up, you’ll likely turn to the mayor, or now Chairman Bovo, who replaces Commissioner Jean Monestime to the two-year post.

Bovo is up for the task. He is sharp, competent, passionate and has expressed a healthy dose of common sense from the dais. All good traits to bring to the leather chair in the center. Bovo already has proven his capabilities. He focused on all-important transportation issues as chair of the commission’s transit committee and promises to press for real change instead of getting bogged down in the bureaucracy of government. We hope he can keep his promise.

Balancing out the leadership on the commission is Audrey Edmonson who will serve as vice chair. She’ll compliment Bovo with a ying-yang approach to leadership. Although the commission posts are “non partisan,” Bovo is a registered Republican and Edmonson is a Democrat. That balance bodes well for residents of the county.

Former Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez, who is serving a second term as county commissioner, also put his hat in the ring to serve as chair. Suarez has years of government experience, but Bovo brings an extra plus – his years in Tallahassee, where he keeps good relations with many in leadership. This can only help on local matters that depend on state funding.

Among Bovo’s agenda focus for this year and next, he told Miami Herald reporter Douglas Hanks, he wants to create a “policy council” to address projects that Mayor Gimenez’s administration is studying, such as transit solutions, in an attempt to accelerate the change. About time!

Another pressing issue for our community: youth violence, particularly in poor and neglected neighborhoods. He wants to “empower families – mothers, fathers – to take back their neighborhoods.” A great way to start would be to push for more community policing in areas in need. And of course responsibility starts at home, so more training for young parents and ways to keep their children engaged in county sports, the arts and other activities are a must. More affordable housing is also on his agenda.

Bovo should make sure that in this new position, he is inclusive of all commissioners and doesn’t simply reward those who backed him. Transit, affordable housing, crime and protecting our delicate environment, which is facing sea level rise throughout our coast are key issues that affect all our communities. He is right. All commissioners should be part of the solution.

Following Monday’s swearing in, where Bovo’s daughter Sofia sang the National Anthem, he announced the new commission committee structure and member assignments. He’s already done some restructuring. In addition to creating seven jurisdictional committees, the chairman announced the creation of a Chairman’s Policy Council charged with addressing issues of countywide concern.

Tackling these issues, which are not new, will take much time, purpose and a laser focus on results.

So good luck Mr. Bovo.