Three well-known public figures are running for the Mayoral seat in Doral. Luigi Boria who is the incumbent and aspires to be re-elected, Juan Carlos Bermudez the first Mayor of the City and Sandra Ruiz who is currently Council Member and wishes to be elected as the first woman Mayor of Doral
We reached out to the candidates to ask them about the themes of interest for our community, here are their comments.
Sandra Sabatella, @sandrasabatella
Everywhere we go, we hear about the importance of voting, and it is because with our vote, we choose the candidates that are going to be working for our interests and those of our families. It is important to be prepared at the time of voting and know what is the focus of our local candidates.
In the coming elections of November 8th, 2016, Doral will choose the person that will be the leader for the next four years. Luigi Boria, current Mayor is seeking re-election and is running against the former Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez and Sandra Ruiz who is currently a Council Member.
Doral Family Journal takes its job to inform our readers seriously and therefore we contacted each one of the candidates to ask them about important themes for our community, so that our residents and voters have the opportunity to compare their points of view and know them better.
The three of them received the same questions, (here are their answers, in strict alphabetical order of their last name):
What would be your goals as Mayor?
JC BERMUDEZ: “My immediate goal as Mayor is to get the city back to a culture where we follow a master plan that is consistent with responsible and planned growth, where transparency and ethics, availability of information and citizen participation and involvement are once again a basic tenet of our community, and where order and a great quality of life are once again part of that culture. Additionally, we need to analyze the needs of our community and make sure that the proper resources are put to use in those of areas of greater need and not necessarily creating larger government. Finally, we need to get back to making sure that the City council meetings are run properly, with proper citizen participation and respect to all those who participate”.
LUIGI BORIA: “We have a plan and we must continue with it. For the last four years the City has been working on a consolidated vision and we have been building this project that we want to continue refining. This is my main goal. We have a Comprehensive Plan that shows us where the city is going; it has global vision and includes priority issues such as the development of Doral, traffic and transportation in addition to using technology to turn Doral into a Smart City”.
SANDRA RUIZ: “As Mayor I will address three major issues that are affecting Doral families:
- Traffic Congestion: As mayor I will immediately address traffic congestion and have plans to reduce commute times by 20% through (1) improved city planning, (2) by syncing traffic lights, (3) fixing bottleneck problems at intersections and (4) opening dialogue with state and federal contractors and planners to improve the phasing of our roads. There is no excuse for construction on major thoroughfares to begin on the first day of school. Better planning and a Mayor who pays attention to details will get traffic moving again in Doral.
- End Corruption and Government handouts: I will increase transparency and fiscal responsibility in Doral government. As Mayor we will not continue the practice of secret contracts and personal paybacks to people like Donald Trump, who are not members of our community. Instead I will redirect those resources to create public green spaces and invest in projects that increase property values for all of us, not just a select few.
- Fiscal responsibility and low taxes: Direct more city resources to local businesses and entrepreneurs, and end handouts to the politically connected. In addition, I will continue to keep our taxes low in Doral”.
What do you see as the biggest challenges for the city in the years to come?
JC BERMUDEZ: “The biggest challenge for the city in the years to come is traffic. We need to work with experts at the municipal, county, state and federal level to work on trying to find regional and local solutions to alleviate the traffic. This requires we not only seek short term stop gap solutions but also focus on long term solutions which require informed and committed leadership from the Mayor”.
LUIGI BORIA: “Obviously, traffic needs improvement. Even though this issue belongs to Miami Dade County, we, as a city, have to plan our growth and development in a coherent way. This means taking the quality of life of our residents into consideration. That’s why we have placed, and will continue to place, our resources and efforts in working together with Miami Dade County in hopes of mitigating the impact of traffic. I believe that the challenges of our city in the future can be summarized in five big areas: orderly growth, humanization, economic growth and creation of jobs, integration and citizen participation. For example, even when the city is growing, we have to follow a growth path, where identifying and fulfilling the needs of the community prevail.
The humanization process in Doral is vital at this moment. We Latin people are expressive loving people, we like to hug each other and take care of our children and seniors. American people are very organized, disciplined, punctual and adhere to following the rules, so it is very important to combine these best of these two cultures.
Another important challenge is the growth and creation of jobs. Part of the traffic problem comes from the 80,000 jobs that we have in Doral, but only 4,000 are held by people living in the city. The goal is to have people living and working in the same city. This gives them a better quality of life and more time to spend with their families. In order to achieve job growth, we are trying to lower taxes, because the City has a surplus of $12 million that allows us to do so and when a person wants to buy a property in Doral they will not be so affected by the property taxes in Doral.
Integration means that we must continue working together with regional and state authorities in order to achieve our goals as a city quicker and easier. This is also achieved by citizen participation through community meetings and surveys that we have already started”.
SANDRA RUIZ: “Doral is a city of great promise, but we need to turn the page on corruption and scandals. In the past we have had Mayors who mis-spent millions of our taxpayer money on fake camera surveillance systems, who have been caught up in money laundering scandals and have handed out dozens of no-bid contracts to their friends. Doral is a city with a great deal of promise, but we need to run our business in the open. This city is my passion, I helped found the city and have raised my family here. My friends and neighbors have worked hard to make Doral the great city it is today. We need to grow the good and turn the page on corruption and scandal”.
What makes you different from your opponents?
JC BERMUDEZ: “While I believe all of the candidates have good qualities, certainly my experience as the founding Mayor, proven leadership results and the knowledge of working with both the public and private sector and getting them to work in conjunction with government is unique. Our nine and a half years of leading the city, from its first moments when there were no city departments, parks, etc.… shows that I have a proven track record of getting things done effectively and timely- experience counts”.
LUIGI BORIA: “Even though I have a six years of political experience as a Council member and Mayor, I consider myself to be a fresh and accessible person. This allows me to listen to the residents and give them what they need”.
SANDRA RUIZ: “I’m a planner and I believe in open and transparent government. Doral needs a Mayor who will set out a long term plan for the city. Our past two Mayors have not had an eye to the long term plan of Doral, and that is a big reason we have such traffic problems today. There is no excuse for major road construction to begin on the first day of school. And we should promote development, but it needs to be responsible and phased correctly. I am proud of the growth of our city, but we need to address this growth in a manner that we are not sacrificing the quality of life of those who live here now for those who will move here in the future”.
What will be your initiatives regarding the growth of the city, its social, productive and cultural development?
JC BERMUDEZ: “The city needs to grow in many different areas. We need to continue to expand the options for our young adults, children and retirees while keeping a focus on a family friendly community. We must focus on a master plan that balances the residential, business and industrial makeup of our city while attracting industry that leads us into the 21st century. Expansion of cultural programs and opportunities while increasing the opportunities for our residents will be key”.
LUIGI BORIA: “As for the growth of the city we must keep living in harmony.
We must maintain a clean and safe city that we are proud to live in.
Our growth in all areas must be strictly linked to order, humanization, economic growth and job creation, and the citizen’s integration and participation.
We need to give special attention to technology, remember, we are in the process of becoming a Smart City. We already have free Wi-Fi in our trolleys and parks and we want to have it all around the city. We have also installed 53 cameras in the entrances and exits of the city, this allows us to monitor traffic flow and volume but it also helps us detect illegal cars that we can check in a database of more than 3 million cars”.
SANDRA RUIZ: “As Mayor, I have a plan to get traffic moving again in Doral, both in the short term by investing in traffic calming technologies and in the long term by properly phasing our growth and city planning. Also, as Mayor I will end corrupt pay to play politics in Doral and will put an end to the practice of giving secret city contracts to the politically connected by creating a transparent bidding process and open public market. This will help with the city grow responsibly, as the best developers with the best plans for the city will be awarded contracts. I will redirect the money saved from backroom deals making it a priority to establish more parks and green spaces to keep up with the growing number of Doral families”.
Do you agree that cultural diversity is beneficial for the city?
JC BERMUDEZ: “Yes, I agree that cultural diversity is beneficial for our city. The fact that we have over 70 different nationalities that make Doral their home is reflective of the greatness of our nation and state”.
LUIGI BORIA: “One of our proposals for the cultural development in the city is the Art in Public Places project. Developers in Doral contribute to a special art fund and we created an Art Committee that follows a Master Plan to determine where these pieces will be located. We are also making sure the chosen art pieces reflect the cultural diversity of our city and our artists. We need to remember that in Doral we have an ample cultural diversity, because the Latin and American cultures are combined into one.
For the future we are considering the creation of an Art Center where we can host theater, concerts and different artistic expressions that can nurture us as a city. This topic is priority for us because a city without art is a city without heart”.
SANDRA RUIZ: “Absolutely. When Donald Trump made his hateful comments about our immigrant and Hispanic community, when he sued our local businesses and tried to bully our Council, I stood up to him. And when our Mayor has tried to silence public debate, I have stood up to him as well. That is the great thing about living in the United States, we can speak our mind and everyone should be encouraged to do so, without fear of intimidation or political retribution”.
If you are elected Mayor, which will be your decisions regarding the current personnel and the programs that the city has been developing as of today?
JC BERMUDEZ: “The first thing I would do is review all the decisions that have been made, discuss it with staff and my fellow council members and make the best decisions based on getting the city back to open and transparent government, planned and controlled growth and a focus on programs that enhance our quality of life. At that point we can then make decisions to help us go in the proper direction”.
LUIGI BORIA: “I will continue doing what I have been doing. In my team and with the community, we will use next four years to complete the projects and our vision for the city”.
SANDRA RUIZ: “I think Doral has dedicated public servants. As Mayor, we will require the current personnel to operate under new and more transparent rules, but I am excited about the prospect of continuing to grow the good in Doral and work with personnel to make changes to improve our programs and our response time to problems like traffic”.
What would you do to promote the participation of the residents of Doral in our City?
JC BERMUDEZ: “I would go back to placing a major emphasis on citizen participation in all aspects of city life. There are a number of programs that were started when I was Mayor, amongst them the many resident volunteer boards in existence and the Mayors Citizens Academy, that need to be augmented and reemphasized and we must get back to focusing on all of us being the Doral community, not just the elected officials. . Additionally, we must make the website and the television station (Channel 77) much more user friendly where residents can find things easily without having difficulty in finding and accessing information”.
LUIGI BORIA: “I will continue doing public surveys, citizen’s assemblies and community meetings. From these meetings ideas arise to solve the problems of the city and new projects are born. We want to listen to our neighbors and develop proposals that benefit Doral”.
SANDRA RUIZ: “As Councilwoman, I have promoted programs that have engaged our students like the internship program in partnership with Florida International University. We have also built Doral’s first dog park which has a high use rate. In addition, we will continue to pass legislation that helps the public like our recent PACE program which allows homeowners low interest loans to make home improvements that increase home value and are environmentally conscious. As Mayor, I will open our books and encourage public dialogue. And I will always stand up to outsiders who attempt to insult and take advantage of our city and residents”.
What is your message to voters?
JC BERMUDEZ: “Let’s work together to get back to the reason we became a city in the first place: a city where we use our tax dollars wisely and where growth is planned and controlled through logical professional planning, where government is open, ethical and transparent and where the use of our tax dollars are focused on efficient government with an emphasis on creating a great quality of life that makes Doral the premier place to live, work, play and learn in our state. Together, let’s Get Doral Back on Track!”.
LUIGI BORIA: “My message to voters and residents is to participate, not only voting but also participating in the search of solutions to the challenges of our city. That way we can have a better and more participative city. It is important that we are all part of the solution and not of the problem.
It is important to remember the phrase from John F. Kennedy on the day of his Inauguration to the Presidency of the United States on January 20th, 1961, “Do not ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”, I believe we can apply that to our city as well”.
SANDRA RUIZ: “We have made huge progress in Doral, but in order to continue to grow we need new leadership, and a Mayor who is open to new ideas.
As your Councilwoman I have a proven track record for solving problems that threaten our quality of life, but I know our work is not done.
We need a Mayor who is committed to fixing our traffic problems and will make smarter decisions about development. We need a Mayor who will create jobs and opportunities for our residents. I believe that Doral needs a different kind of Mayor- and as your next Mayor I will end corruption, secret contracts, special favors for contributors and open our books at city hall. The people of Doral deserve a transparent government, one that will act in the best interest of our City and all of us”.
The election campaigns of Doral already started and every candidate is doing its best effort to get elected by our voters, who will have in their hands the great responsibility of voting for those who will lead the destiny of the city for the next few years.
Remember, there is no better way to take decisions that being informed about the options and most importantly, casting your vote.
You live in a democracy. Voting is one of your most precious American rights.
Your vote counts!!!