A better Broward for everyone.
In Broward County, less than 80% of our students graduate high school. Compare that percentage to Black, economically disadvantaged, or at-risk students, the graduation rate drops significantly. As county commissioner, I will not only introduce and support legislation creating college education grants and scholarships for no-to-low income and at-risk students to ensure that every student who graduates high school has access to a college education, but also donate 50% of my salary every year until all students are guaranteed a debt-free college education.
Moreover, as your county commissioner, I will continue to fight for safe, healthy schools for our students and teachers. Recent reports continue to show that unsafe conditions exist in our school district, including mold in a number of locations and the need to fix our protocols and procedures in view of the Parkland tragedy. Let’s fix it.
Broward County was recently ranked last out of 67 counties in Florida for disparity between wages and housing costs. Fewer families and young adults can afford to buy homes or rent. By pricing out residents, we reduce our tax base, decrease local spending, and hurt our economy. As Commissioner, I will work with local, state, and federal agencies for grants and incentivize developers and building projects for affordable housing.
We need to explore new ways to create an affordable market. I will develop partnerships with our community and local banks to offer mortgages at lower interest rates as well as examining our regulatory environments that are preventing families and individuals from qualifying for homes due to student loans and down payment needs. I will also work with our Community Redevelopment Agency and first-time homebuyer programs to ensure our grant programs are fully funded. This is a complex issue, but the county needs to do more than inclusionary zoning and new development, which increases traffic congestion.
In addition to legislating clean, sustainable energy, our county has suffered environmentally. Our county commissioner failed to attend important South Florida Regional Planning Council meetings and hearings of the Department of Environmental Protection about waste and injection wells in our district. He was fortunately replaced by an active, environmentally-conscious commissioner outside of our district. Local issues include the decades-long tire disposal issue affecting the ocean’s ecosystem and the destruction of our coral reefs by dumping partially-treated sewage and coastal construction.
Everglades Restoration is an important initiative for Broward County and we need to elect officials who will work with local, state, and federal agencies to restore and repair the Everglades and avoid taking money from Big Sugar. Algae bloom, which may carry toxins, poses a threat to Broward Canals, waterways, and our beaches. I will work directly with the Department of Environmental Protection on these issues and more. I will also keep the public informed of meetings, upcoming legislation, and ways we can support these initiatives.
Mass incarceration and increased felony charges on lower income individuals and families have disenfranchised thousands of citizens. Progress for All sums up my view that “we should restore voting rights for non-violent felons who have served their time and otherwise completed their sentences, … oppose private prisons and for-profit policing practices,” and “hard drug use should be viewed as a public health problem, requiring resources for rehabilitation.”
- End For-Profit/Private Prisons and ICE Deportation Facilities
- Restore Felon Voting Rights
- Provide County Support for Cities Opening Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
I am currently organizing a panel of city commissioners from Margate, Coconut Creek, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, and Coral Springs for a forum on the challenges of implementing medical Marijuana and city dispensaries. As soon as all commissioners agree on a date, I will facilitate a public forum to discuss how the county can support city dispensaries and their concern with increased crime. More updates to follow.
- Prevent Incarceration for Non-Violent, Low-Level Offenses and Lower Arrest Priority on Marijuana
I will create a Criminal Justice Reform Advisory Board to study how law enforcement and the court system will end arrests for these offenses and fix our bail system, which disproportionately affects low-income individuals and families by keeping them in jail on low bonds. This issue not only hurts our residents, but is a large burden on our county and its taxpayers.
- Develop More Resources for Mental Health, Ending Homelessness, and Opioid and Drug/Addiction Rehabilitation and Recovery Programs
According to Broward County’s Continuum of Care Administrator Michael Wright, “In terms of additional funding, it will take approximately $10.5M. Broken out by $9M in new recurring funding Permanent Supportive Housing (permanent housing vouchers and supportive services) assistance for homeless persons with disabilities; and approximately $1.5M in new recurring funding for Rapid Rehousing (short-term housing assistance and supportive services) assistance.” This is a solvable problem.
The opioid epidemic, which should be a national emergency, is estimated to claim 1,000 residents in Broward County this year. In additional to appointing a task force, we need to follow our neighboring counties, which have made considerable strides in addressing this crisis.