In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave a radio address during which he coined the term “first 100 days”, a term which is now used as a benchmark for measuring the progress which has been made early-on during an elected leader’s term in office.
I am excited to share with you the progress we have made since I was selected unanimously by my colleagues to serve as Chairman of the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners; I am proud to say that in my time so far, I have started to look to the future and post COVID-19.
I have heard, seen, and been moved by the challenges imposed on our community due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our neighbors have found themselves struggling and many are still in need of support due to this pandemic. That is why I made it a top priority in the first days of my chairmanship to spearhead the implementation of a Weekly Briefing to discuss our County’s challenges and the comprehensive efforts being made to fight the negative impacts of the virus. I believe that to make the best decisions, we must gain as much information as possible, as often as possible — so that our path forward addresses the challenges of today and future ones. The Weekly Briefing is an opportunity for all stakeholders, including the Mayor and her administration and Jackson Health System, to share their expertise and offer solutions.
As you all know, my motto is: “From the people… For the people,” therefore I have continued to help and support one of our most vulnerable population, our Seniors: by providing meals, much needed PPE, and the next stage, vaccinations. As part of the COVID-19 vaccination distribution efforts for our older adults, we were able to facilitate, an in-home vaccination for a 100-year-old-resident of my district. I have supported all my colleagues’ noble work in their Districts to make sure we have the necessary framework that allows for support. Another one of my priorities was to make sure the Mayor’s decisions related to curfew and vaccine distribution would benefit all county residents equally.
While the stress of the virus has weighed heavily on all of us, the impact has been particularly felt by veterans in our community struggling with mental illness. In recognition of that, I sponsored a resolution urging the Florida Legislature to enact legislation to provide behavioral health care referrals and care coordination services for our Miami-Dade County Veterans.
Our veterans have sacrificed so much, and it is our duty to provide them with access to the resources they need. Therefore, I sponsored a resolution urging Congress to enact laws recognizing the epidemic of suicide among veterans and fully fund suicide prevention efforts for those who have served in the armed services.
During my first 100 days, I also met with representatives from the Pentagon to engage military related industries in our County for the purpose of securing further use of the Homestead Air Reserve Base (HARB). Miami-Dade County is the proud home of the US Southern Command, the HARB, the 482nd Fighter Wing, and the Customs and Border Protection Air Wing. Each offers an incredible wealth of economic opportunities for our County to capitalize on and I am proud to be leading the charge to that end.
My focus on local issues has also led me to Tallahassee, where I visited and met with the Miami-Dade Delegation to the Florida House and Senate to ensure our County’s interests are being represented in the administration of state funding. I met personally with the Governor, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Secretary of Transportation, Speaker of the House, Speaker Pro Tempore, and President of the Senate (and several members of our Delegation). In keeping with the mission of my visit to our state capital, I have also made it a top priority to work with my colleagues on the Commission on various resiliency projects. Among them, I was the co-sponsor of a resolution urging our legislature to add septic to sewer conversions to projects eligible for the PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) Program. This program has been a blessing to many in our community looking for ways to access dollars to pay for important home energy improvements. Additionally, supporting more consumer protection in the PACE program.
I also organized and met with my colleagues, Commissioners Monestime and McGhee to discuss strategies to address gun violence. As many of you know, I am a steadfast supporter of our local law enforcement. I am proud of the many initiatives of the Miami-Dade Police Department and the efforts they have made to increase community outreach and build more bridges with all sectors of our society.
Within my district, I am proud to see the completion of a new state- of- the- art 13,500-square-foot library in Hialeah Gardens. I also have the pleasure to welcome Miami-Dade Fire Rescue station 29 back to Sweetwater, one of the busiest stations, which will serve the residents of the City of Sweetwater and the surrounding areas.
I have worked for many years to secure the seepage wall to protect and balance the interests of both the Everglades and the farmers in Miami Dade County. Recently, through a partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers, the South Florida Water Management District, and the National Parks Service, SFWMD has secured funding for the next two and a half miles of the seepage wall.
As we look towards the future, I am currently drafting legislation establishing the first-ever policy & legislation internship program that will offer paid and non-paid internship opportunities to college students interested in policy and legislative development.
In my first 100 days, I have also worked to reorganize the parts of the county government under my purview to make them more effective and efficient. Since oversight of your tax dollars is our top priority, I added adequate staffing to the new Office of Policy and Budget Analysis. This new office serves as an experienced financial advisor to all Commissioners regarding the county budget. Under my leadership, we implemented a new budget development system and review process. I also presented legislation to improve the accountability and transparency of the various offices that report directly to the BCC.
I have never been prouder of my colleagues and county staff. We have navigated through unprecedented times, and I know together, we have become a better Miami Dade County. If you have any questions or concerns, please call my office directly at 305-599-1200.
Yours in service,
Jose “Pepe” Diaz
Board of County Commissioners