The+Catalyst+2020+Voter+Guide

Illustration by Andre Joseph '22

The Catalyst 2020 Voter Guide

November 1, 2020

With Election Day 2020 nearing, the Opinion section of The Catalyst broke down the priorities and points of view of the candidates whom residents of Miami-Dade County will most likely see on their ballot. Our intention is to bring some clarity to the often confusing down-ballot elections, as well as the ever-evolving presidential election.

Looking for a specific race? Use the menu in the top right corner!

Miami-Dade County Commission – District 5

Eileen Higgins (DEM)

Background

A former engineer, Higgins has served abroad as a Peace Corps country director in Belize, and has also served the U.S. State Department in Mexico and Southern Africa. She is a member of Miami Climate Alliance and Miami Downtown Neighbors.

Priorities and Points of View 

  • Environment
    • Higgins is working to collect data to help understand the problem of climate change.
    • Higgins hopes to regulate pollutants such as fertilizers and create a Biscayne Bay Authority to oversee environmental efforts.
  • Affordable Housing and Education 
    • Higgins supports using county land to create projects with both affordable housing and classrooms. 
  • Transportation 
    • Higgins supports using funding to build affordable transportation, such as the Metrorail, saying that she knows best on this matter, as she’s the only county commissioner to ride all forms of public transportation.
  • COVID-19 
    • Higgins advocated for the use of $35 million in emergency relief funding.
    • Higgins believes that the lockdowns were effective and save lives.

Renier Diaz de la Portilla (REP)

Background:

A civil and criminal lawyer by trade, de la Portilla has served on the Miami School Board and the Florida Legislature.

Priorities and Points of View

  • Environment
    • De la Portilla will request to be placed on environmental committees.
  • Education
    • De la Portilla supports and encourages the construction of charter schools, saying, “They’re more efficient, and you don’t spend as much money.”
  • Transportation
    • Diaz de la Portilla wants to expand bus routes, but views expanding other forms of public transportation as a waste of public funds.
  • COVID-19 
    • Diaz de la Portilla has argued that parts of the COVID-19 precautions in Miami have been unnecessary, saying that the City of Miami was using emergency funding as a “slush fund.” “There was no science behind many of the restrictions,” he argued.

Miami-Dade County Commission – District 3

Keon Hardemon (NPA)

Background

Hardemon has served as an Assistant Public Defender and City of Miami Commissioner.

Priorities and Points of View

  • Transportation
    • Hardemon argues for direct action to improve transit.
    • Hardemon would vote to extend the rail system to reach the Broward County line, as well as further reinstating additional routes and trolleys.
    • Hardemon would increase personnel on buses and trains to ensure the safety of public transit commuters.
  • Affordable Housing
    • Hardemon will work with advocacy groups and developers to identify vacant public land that could be used for affordable housing.
    • Hardemon would look to rewrite the zoning codes.
  • Climate Change
    • Hardemon passed a $200 million bill towards combating sea level rise and flooding.
    • Hardemon implemented a program where residents can receive grants to make their homes storm resistant.

Gepsie Metellus (NPA)

Background

Metellus is the Co-founder and Executive Director of the Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center. She has also served on the Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent’s Business Advisory Council and the School Bond Oversight Committee, and she is a member of the Miami Chapter of the International Women’s Forum and the Greater Miami Chapter of The Links, Inc., an international volunteer service organization led by women of color.

Priorities and Points of View

  • Transportation
    • Metellus advocates for more data collection to further understand transportation problems in the Miami-Dade area.
    • Metellus supports splitting the Transit and Public Works program into two separate departments.
  • Affordable Housing
    • Metellus plans to utilize public land and convert renters to owners. 
    • Metellus allocated $100 million for affordable housing initiatives in the city for new housing developments and money for private property renovations.
  • Climate Change
    • Metellus prioritizes sustainable development policies that protect our environment and environmental infrastructure. 

Miami-Dade County Commission – District 7

Raquel Regalado (NPA) 

Background 

Regalado, a former member of the Miami-Dade County School Board, was also a candidate for  Miami Dade County mayor in 2016, a race in which she lost to Carlos Gimenez by 9 points. 

Priorities and Points of View

  • Education: Regalado is advocating for the proper allocation of funds to public schools, the construction and renovation of public schools, and improvements to education for people with disabilities. 
  • Water Contamination: Regalado wants to upgrade sewage plants to stop the outfall to the ocean, and she is also against septic systems.
  • Regalado supports infrastructure improvements for the sake of climate change resiliency.
  • Traffic: Regalado wants to focus on federal funding, creating increased ridership for public transportation, and cutting down on the improper use of funds and grants.
  • Development: Regalado is a strong supporter of the Underline, the linear park under the Metrorail along US1, founded by RE alum Meg Daly ‘78.

Cindy Lerner (NPA) 

Background

Lerner is a former Attorney for Guardian ad Litem, representing children’s interests in a variety of cases such as child support, emancipation, divorce, adoption, etc. She is also a former member of the Former Florida House of Representatives and a former Mayor of Pinecrest.

Priorities and Points of View

  • Traffic: Lerner wants to have an electric bus fleet and allocate more money to the Better Bus project, a redesign of the bus system.
  • Rising Sea Levels: Lerner advocates for “adaptive” measures to be taken.
  • Water Contamination: Lerner’s goal is to create access to potable water and sewer systems for all residents of District 7. 
  • Infrastructure: Lerner wants to facilitate collaboration between city, county, and district governments to properly allocate tax dollars to infrastructure improvements.
  • Development: Lerner advocates for private development along US1.

Florida Senate – District 37

Ileana Garcia (REP)

Background

A former television personality and the founder of Latinas for Trump, Garcia served in the Trump administration as the Deputy Press Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security before stepping down in March.

Priorities and Points of View 

  • Garcia has been endorsed by Florida governor Ron DeSantis.
  • Garcia has identified herself as anti-socialist.
  • In terms of the COVID-19 response, Garcia wants to see the state government working to end the pandemic while reopening the economy. 
  • Garcia wants to prioritize police funding.
  • Garcia’s priorities include unemployment, accessible healthcare, and water quality.
  • Garcia wants to improve public schools and allow parents to make a choice on which public school they want to send their child to. 
  • She is pro-life.

 

Jose Javier Rodriguez (DEM) 

Background

A former attorney, and the incumbent since 2016, Rodriguez also served two terms in the Florida House of Representatives in District 112.

Priorities and Points of View

  • Rodriguez’s priorities include small businesses, the environment, working families, public education, better wages, and widespread access to healthcare. 
  • Rodriguez opposes defunding the police and is endorsed by several police departments. 
  • Rodriguez is pro-choice, endorsed by Planned Parenthood. 
  • Rodriguez is pro-LGBTQ+ rights, endorsed by  Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus.

Florida House of Representatives – District 112

Nicholas X. Duran (DEM)  

Background

Duran is the incumbent, seeking reelection to a third term.

 

Priorities and Points of View

  • Duran’s priorities include expanding affordable health care, combating the opioid epidemic, protecting professionals and graduates who are dealing with student loans, investment in education, and protecting our environment. 
  • Duran has advocated for common sense gun regulation.

 

Bruno A. Barreiro (REP) 

Background

Barreiro served as Miami-Dade County Commissioner for District 5 from 1998 to 2018. He also served in the Florida Legislature from 1992 to 1998.

 

Priorities and Points of View

  • Barreiro calls for government transparency and listening to his constituents.

House of Representatives – District 24

Lavern Spicer (REP)

Background 

Spicer is the founder of Curley’s House Food Bank, which has been supporting the community since 2001. She also opened her home to foster children over a span of 28 years. This is her first time running for public office.

Priorities and Points of View

  • Spicer supports improving the quality of life for many different minority groups, combating hunger and unemployment, increasing affordable housing, expanding healthcare for the elderly, and creating programs for underprivileged youth.
  • Spicer is pro-life. 
  • Spicer is pro-second amendment.
  • Spicer wishes to end “illegal alien voting” and wants to “stand up to the Democratic Party political illegal alien invasion within America.” 

 

Frederica S. Wilson (DEM) 

Background 

Wilson has served as the Democratic representative from District 24 since 2011, and is running for reelection once again. She is a former elementary school principal who has also served on the Miami Dade School Board.

Priorities and Points of View 

  • Wilson’s priorities include climate change, bettering public education, increasing gun control, reducing crime, decreasing unemployment, improving transportation quality, technological advancement, and protecting veterans. 
  • In reaction to the killing of Trayvon Martin, Wilson called for Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, a self-defense law, to be repealed, despite voting for the legislation herself. 
  • Wilson is pro-immigration, pro-Medicare, pro-choice, and anti-hazing.

Christine Alexandria Olivo (IND)

Background

Olivo is the former Youth Director of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, where she primarily served as a mentor to underprivileged teenagers. This is Olivo’s first time running for public office; she has no prior experience in politics. 

Priorities and Points of View

  • Olivo calls for an end to gun violence, a $15 minimum wage, Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, legalizing marijuana, demilitarizing the police, tuition-free college, and increased funding for education and housing. 
  • She is pro-choice, pro-immigration, and pro-LGBTQ+ rights.

House of Representatives – District 27

Maria Elvira Salazar (REP) 

Background

A reporter for Telemundo, CNN Español, and Univision, Salazar ran in 2018 against Donna Shalala and lost by 4 points. She worked as the Pentagon and White House correspondent for Univision, and at Telemundo was a political correspondent who had the rare chance to interview Fidel Castro in 1993, making herself the only Spanish-speaking journalist to have ever done so one-on-one.

Priorities and Points of View 

  • Salazar’s priorities include protecting the environment, increasing funding for public education, affordable healthcare, creating greater availability of jobs to minorities, strengthening the economy, enforcing term-limits on representatives to promote real action in Congress. 
  • She is a supporter of gun control and universal background checks and is fervently anti-socialism.
  • Salazar vows to do “whatever makes sense to the community.” 

 

Donna Shalala (DEM)

Background

Shalala, the incumbent Representative for District 27, is the former President of the University of Miami and former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration. She also served as President of the Clinton Foundation.

Priorities and Points of View 

  • Shalala is outspoken about gender-based violence and the gender wage gap. 
  • Shalala advocates for the prevention of gun violence through universal background checks .
  • Shalala supports a ban on assault weapons.
  • Shalala desires affordable healthcare
  • Her priorities include the environment, veterans, small businesses, affordable housing, public transportation, senior citizens, and immigrants. 
  • She supports the LGBTQ+ community and is pro-choice. 

 

Mayor – Miami Dade County

Daniella Levine Cava (NPA)

Background

An attorney with a Master’s degree in social work, Cava has served on the Miami-Dade County Commission representing District 8 since 2014.

Priorities and Points of View

    • Cava will prioritize environmental protection and continue forward in “the fight against climate change.”
    • Cava  hopes to expand opportunities for small businesses and finds entrepreneurship critical to Miami Dade’s economy. 
    • Cava will continue pursuit for paid leave, especially during COVID-19
    • Cava places an emphasis on justice, equality, and sustainability in reopening and strengthening economy
    • Cava advocates for more opportunities to be provided to children in underserved communities. 
    • Cava supports expanding affordable housing. 
    • COVID-19 
      • Cava wants to increase testing availability.
      • Cava supports unemployment benefits, support for small businesses, and stimulus. 
      • Cava calls for support for essential workers and the reinstitution of trust in science institutions. 
    • Cava advocates for an increased accountability in the justice system, involving community leaders to reform the system so that policing is fair.
    • Cava wants to ban chokeholds.
    • Cava plans to create an “Office of Equity and Inclusion.”

Steve Bovo (NPA)

Background

Bovo has served as State Representative representing District 110 and, most recently, on the Miami-Dade County Commission representing District 13 since 2011.

Priorities and Points of View 

  • Bovo wants to ensure the preservation of water and water resources. 
  • Bovo advocates for investment in combating sea-level rise, an increase in affordable housing, expansion of the tourism industry. 
  • His education plans are focused on “hardening schools.”
  • COVID-19 response
    • He wants to keep small businesses open and aim to limit shutdowns. 
    • He would strive to provide incentives for business owners. 
    • He calls for an increased testing availability. 
  • He wants to expand communication between local and county governments and to increase the reach of collaboration between communities and police. 
  • He would increase technology use in the police force. 
    • Supports an expansion of the use of body cameras and technologies such as the ShotSpotter tool (gunshot/bullet detection technology). 

President of the United States of America

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris (DEM)

Joe Biden was the 47th vice president of the United States under Barack Obama. He was also a Delaware Senator for 36 years as well as Chairman or Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee for 16 years. This is his third time running for president.

Kamala Harris is the first black woman to be elected California Attorney General, district attorney of San Francisco, or to run on a major party ticket for vice president. She has served in the United States Senate for approximately two terms. 

IMMIGRATION

  • Biden and Harris plan to “prioritize the reunification of any children still separated from their families.”
  • They also want to revoke the MPP or Migrant Protection Protocols and restore past asylum laws.
  • These two intend to use more funds to purchase humanitarian resources to help asylum-seeking migrants.
  • Biden and Harris also plan on halting the construction of the border wall.
  • They plan to hold ICE (the Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and CBP (Customs and Border Protection) officers to higher standards. The leaders of these groups will be Senate-confirmed and answer directly to the President.
  • Another part of their plan is to “revitalize the Task Force on New Americans and boost our economy by prioritizing integration, promoting immigrant entrepreneurship, increasing access to language instruction, and promoting civil engagement.”

ENVIRONMENT

  • “Biden will make a $2 trillion accelerated investment, with a plan to deploy those resources over his first term, setting us on an irreversible course to meet the ambitious climate progress that science demands.”
  • Biden and Harris plan to promote the creation of more electrically-fueled vehicles and create 1 million new jobs in the auto industry.
  • They also want to “generate clean, American-made electricity to achieve a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035. This will enable us to meet the existential threat of climate change while creating millions of jobs with a choice to join a union.”
  • Another part of their plan is to upgrade or weatherize 6 million buildings and homes, which will create 1 million jobs.
  • They also want to “create jobs in climate-smart agriculture, resilience, and conservation, including 250,000 jobs plugging abandoned oil and natural gas wells and reclaiming abandoned coal, hardrock, and uranium mines.”
  • They plan to promote a rail system.
  • Finally, they also intend to ensure infrastructure benefits all walks of life so as to help impoverished communities.

LGBTQ+ RIGHTS

  • “Biden will make enactment of the Equality Act during his first 100 days as President a top legislative priority.”
  • Biden and Harris plan on reversing any discriminatory advances made by the Trump administration.
  • They want to appoint federal judges and officials who represent the LGBT+ community.
  • They intend to “reverse transgender military ban.”
  • Biden and Harris also want to fight misuse of the religious freedom laws that allow for discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.
  • They intend to “reinstate protections for LGBTQ+ people experiencing homelessness.”
  • They want to adjust blood donation laws to focus more on specific behaviors rather than the current law, which prohibits gay men who have engaged in any kind of sex in the past year from donating.
  • “On his first day in office, Biden will reinstate the Obama-Biden guidance revoked by the Trump-Pence Administration, which will restore transgender students’ access to sports, bathrooms, and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity.”
  • These two intend to inact the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act and other policies to reduce “sexual assault, harassment, and bullying,” as well as other types of unfair treatment towards LGBTQ+ students
  • Another part of their plan is to “reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking against LGBTQ+ individuals and support survivors of this violence.”
  • Biden and Harris plan to “expand access to high-quality health care for LGBTQ+ individuals.”

SUPREME COURT

  • Biden and Harris have vowed to put together a commission to discuss the court system (not ruling out “packing the court”.)

TAXES

  • Biden and Harris have vowed to raise the highest bracket tax rate from 37% to 39.6%

ABORTION

  • Biden and Harris intend on “expanding access to contraception and protect the constitutional right to an abortion.”
  • They want to codify Roe v. Wade.
  • Biden and Harris plan to reverse Trump’s change to Title X, therefore helping fund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
  • They want to rescind the Mexico City Policy.
  • Also, Biden and Harris are calling to revert changes to Title IX so that health care providers and insurance companies can no longer legally discriminate against those who partake in abortions.
  • They intend to fight state laws, often called “TRAP laws, parental notification requirements, mandatory waiting periods, and ultrasound requirements” which attempt to bar access to abortion.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

  • Biden and Harris want to “create a new $20 billion competitive grant program to spur states to shift from incarceration to prevention.”
  • They also intend on legalizing cannabis and releasing those who have been convicted due to use.
  • This team calls for the ending of criminalizing poverty; i.e., ending cash bail and stopping the jailing of people for failing to pay fines and fees.
  • On their website, they promote ensuring humane conditions in prisons and ending solitary confinement except when it protects the life of an imprisoned person.
  • They want to “set a national goal of ensuring 100% of formerly incarcerated individuals have housing upon reentry.”
  • Biden and Harris also call for the need to “expand access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment, as well as educational opportunities and job training for individuals during and after incarceration.”

HEALTHCARE

  • Biden and Harris’s healthcare plan is centered on “giving Americans a new choice, a public health insurance option like Medicare. If your insurance company isn’t doing right by you, you should have another, better choice.”
  • They intend to stand up to abuse of power by drug companies so that there won’t be monopolies on medications that make access to certain medicine difficult for impoverished people.
  • They also want to expand healthcare coverage to more middle-class and low-income Americans.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence (REP) 

Donald Trump, a graduate of the Wharton School, is the 45th and current president of the United States. He is the first president to be elected without any military or political experience. Before becoming president, Trump was an infamous businessman, TV personality, and co-author of “Trump: The Art of the Deal.”

Mike Pence is the current vice president and chairman of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. He was the 50th governor of Indiana for four years and served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

 

(NOTE: On their website, there is no location to find information on their future policies, only a section called “Promises Kept.” Thus, I gathered most information from that section in addition to other government-run websites.)

ABORTION

  • “The Trump administration issued a rule allowing health care workers to refuse to provide services like abortion, sterilization or assisted suicide, if they cite a religious or conscientious objection.”
  • This administration changed Title X to stop taxpayer dollars from supporting facilities that provide abortion.
  • They also implemented the Mexico City Policy, which is similar to the change in Title X except that it also applies to global health assistance.

IMMIGRATION

  • They are currently in the process of building a wall between Mexico and the U.S.A.
  • They aim to eliminate legal loopholes that allow illegal immigration.
  • Trump and Pence want to end both chain migration and the visa lottery program.
  • They revoked the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and the DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) programs.
  • Also, they removed the U.S.A. from the GCM or Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
  • Trump and Pence instated the MPP, which prohibits “certain aliens attempting to enter the U.S. illegally or without documentation, including those who claim asylum” from being released into the states.

LGBTQ+ RIGHTS

(NOTE: No mention of the LGBTQ+ Community can be found on the Promises Kept website. As such, I used references from the HHS.gov website.)

ENVIRONMENT

  • President Trump has signed an Executive Order to expand offshore oil and gas drilling and open more leases to develop offshore drilling.
  • Trump and Pence have promoted new pipelines and coal and fossil fuel-based projects.
  • They have also worked to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to domestic energy production.
  • Under the Trump Administration, the EPA launched the Smart Sectors Program “to partner with the private sector to achieve better environmental outcomes.” 
  • Trump removed the U.S.A. from the Paris Climate Agreement.

HEALTHCARE

  • Trump and Pence declared the opioid crisis a national emergency, allowing more funds to be dedicated to preventing misuse. Also, in 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services invested $900 million in “opioid-specific funding.”
  • They also repealed ObamaCare’s individual mandate.
  • They extended CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) for six more years.
  • The Trump Administration awarded $2.24 billion in Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program grants, which provided “essential support services to improve the health quality of more than half a million people with HIV.”
  • The Trump Administration has announced “$20 billion in new funding for providers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.”

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

  • Under this administration, a new National Public Safety Partnership was announced with the intention of reducing violent crimes in cities. 
  • Under Trump, the Department of Justice has announced more than $98 million in grant funding through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program, which will fund more than 802 additional full-time law enforcement officers.
  • President Trump’s prolific judicial confirmations have created conservative majorities on 3 federal appeals courts, including the 2nd, 3rd, and 11th Circuits.
About the Writers
Photo of Liza Dill
Liza Dill '21, Opinion Editor

Liza Dill is the Opinion Editor of The Catalyst. For the 2019-2020 school year she served as Community News Editor. She has been contributing since her...

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