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My name is Rafael Velasquez, and I am running for Miami Beach Commissioner in Group 4. I am here to ask for your support and hope you will vote for me on November 5.
I’ve been a Miami Beach resident for more than 25 years now and chose to live here because I love Miami Beach!
Besides its amazing location and weather, Miami Beach’s greatest asset is without a doubt its people. We are diverse, tolerant, open, inclusive, and fun! We love arts, music, and entertainment. That’s why we live here.
However, living in Miami Beach also comes with its challenges. Yes, we are a world tourist capital, but Miami Beach is not the only happening place any longer! Today, we are competing with Wynwood, the Design District, Midtown, Downtown, and Brickell. Faced with this rising competition, I believe that Miami Beach, needs to reinvent itself. Miami Beach needs to become a center for arts, music, and entertainment. As your commissioner, I’ll make sure this happens!
We also need improved public services for our seniors, families, and single parents. Whether, it’s about building new bus shelters, lowering the cable and internet costs for our seniors, or offering discounts to single-parents, it’s about improving our neighbors’ daily lives.
Our City can offer more classes to our children, and help our single-parents with discounted rates to register for them. Miami Beach wants to be known for its best competitive sport teams, athletes, and talented new artists, and performers. These are small changes that can go a long way.
In 2017 I was the first candidate who proposed the creation of an Office of Inspector General. Although, I was not elected then, my proposal survived and was presented as a referendum to our City. It passed overwhelmingly and today we have that Office of Inspector General. I’m proud of it. Now, I want to make sure that our Inspector General really will go after corrupt politicians, public officials, and contractors. No more back room deals. No more pay for play.
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. Over the past 25 years I’ve been an activist and have a record for it.
Most recently, I helped my neighbor Maria, 75, who was evicted from her apartment for having too many cats, while hurricane Dorian was approaching. Activism can work. As a result of the wide publicity of Maria’s case. Miami-Dade Mayor Gimenez by executive order banned ALL evictions from occurring during emergency declarations. The County Commission followed. And our City expanded those protections. Moreover, our State Rep. Grieco, and State Senator, Pizzo both passed state bills proposing the same. Change happened. And I’m proud of it.
Only last week, I stood up for low income, disabled, and veteran tenants in North Beach who were subjected to steep rent increases and evictions by a ruthless developer. This time, we drew public attention to a situation that is increasingly common in our City. We demand respect for our residents from all real estate investors. Don’t mistreat our neighbors and then expect our City to reward you with any rezoning changes later.
The last time I ran, two years ago, my campaign was destroyed by the vicious lies of an unhinged political candidate who was running for Congress at that time, and who believed that her lies would help her win her primary. They didn’t. We both lost our elections and I filed a defamation lawsuit against her.
However, I lost more than an election: most importantly I lost my family. The greatest victims of her lies were really my children and my marriage.
Today, I am running against that candidate and the decision is yours. This campaign is not only about my desire to serve and make a positive difference for us all, but also about my integrity as a person.
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. If you want to see change in our City then vote for me, Rafael Velasquez, for Miami Beach Commissioner in Group 4.
Thank you. God bless our City, and the United States of America!
I have been part of our Community for more than 25 years, working tirelessly to make it a better place.
Implementation of Approved $439 million General Obligation Bond and Office of Inspector General: Last November Miami Beach Voters voted with an overwhelming margin to approve bonds in the amount of $439 million for public safety, parks, and infrastructure. Let’s make sure now that the money is truly and efficiently spent in our Community’s best interest. We need to ensure that our current G.O. Bond Oversight Committee will be enabled and have the administrative tools available to enforce the promises that were made to our residents! I will make it my personal mission that contrary to many fears, our government will actually spend the loaned money for much needed public safety, parks and our City’s infrastructure.
Last November Miami Beach voters also voted with an overwhelming margin to approve the creation of an Office of Inspector General. This Inspector General shall be independent and empowered to 1) investigate, audit, review, and oversee municipal matters including City contracts, programs, projects, and expenditures, in order to identify efficiencies, and detect, investigate, and prevent fraud, waste, mismanagement, misconduct, and abuse of power; and 2) subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, and require production of records.
This issue is arguably most important for me because I was the first candidate in 2017, who proposed creation of such office. I was glad that then Mayoral candidate Gelber and another candidate subscribed to that idea and took leadership to in order to turn this idea into reality.
Now, however, we need to make certain that our Inspector General will be truly independent and is empowered and sufficiently funded to effectively reduce public corruption and restore trust into our City government.
Combating public corruption is at the core of my motivation to serve and make a positive difference for all of us. For this reason, I will take special leadership and pride in ensuring that our Inspector General will be a model for other cities on how to effectively reduce public corruption, and not another empty political promise to appease voters.
Traffic: I do not support any trains in Miami Beach. I support finding a feasible baylink solution for train connecting Miami Downtown to South Beach. We need to find a solution to traffic congestion on causeways. Also need good traffic impact studies for any new planned development affecting Miami Beach. We need to expand currently available City parking and explore options to relieve Ocean Drive, Collins and Washington Ave, and Alton Rd of traffic congestion. Miami Beach traffic congestion directly impacts community’s quality of life.
We also need to review and adjust current speed limits on Miami Beach where necessary and possible. Law enforcement of current speed limits is important to maintain Miami Beach neighborhoods.
Sea-level rise: Review success of latest City measures to combat sea-level rise, such as lifting street levels and enacting pump system throughout the City.
Weigh positive results with negative side effects and tailor future anti-sea-level rise measure accordingly in best interest of City with least environmental pollution of other adverse effects.
Protecting our Community from Hate and Fear Legislation and Executive Orders: I support passing any legislation in protection of all communities living in Miami Beach, and opposing any county, state, or federal legislation aimed as a direct threat to any of those communities.
I support additional police training related to combating local hate crimes and improving community relations with all minorities currently living in Miami Beach..
I strongly support prohibiting any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in employment, public accommodations and housing. Our LGBTQ community has experienced discrimination in the past and unfortunately continues to experience frequent discrimination and therefore needs to be protected by federal, state, and municipal laws.
I also strongly support to continue providing our LGBTQ community with easily accessible safety information and safe places throughout Miami Beach they can turn to if they are the victims of crime. When elected Commissioner, I will continue working with our Miami Beach Police Department and its LGBTQ liaison officer, Juan F. Sanchez to continue strengthening and expanding the Safe Place Initiative.
I will also strongly support a Miami Beach anti-bullying ordinance in order to combat any rising hate, fear, racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and bigotry that our City is currently facing.
I support gender neutral single-stall facilities, in order to avoid any discrimination against members of our LGBTQ community, and non-gendered code and language, because I understand and am sensitive to how individuals want to identify their gender. My preferred pronouns are: he, him, and his.
Since 2016, I have organized and participated in protests and marches to protect immigrants and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I participated in several and organized one protest against the Repeal of ACA Health Care Law, in cooperation with SAVE’s Quick Response Team. I also strongly oppose and participated in protest rallies against the new transgender ban in the military.
I have been a strong public supporter of marriage equality since 2001 (when campaigning as Democratic nominee for State House 107). In 2002, I cooperated with former Miami-Dade Mayor, Alex Penelas, and his brother, Luis Penelas, in the ''No to Discrimination/SAVE Dade'' campaign to successfully defeat a measure that was on the ballot to repeal a Miami-Dade Anti-Discrimination ordinance, which banned discrimination based on sexual orientation.
In 2014, I strongly supported our Miami-Dade County Commission extending that ordinance to also ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression. In 2017, I publicly opposed and protested against our new transgender ban in the military.
I am willing to appoint any qualified LGBTQ member resident to serve on any board, committee, or task force. I believe that our LGBTQ community deserves strong representation on any municipal boards, committees, or task forces, because of its vital role in the successful development of Miami Beach. Miami Beach would not be Miami Beach without the strong influence and representation of our LGBTQ community over the past 3 decades.
Overdevelopment: Considering Miami Beach’s space limitations and changing climate and soil conditions, we need to smartly preserve and re-develop our community in order to preserve our beach community neighborhood character, and approve development which increases our property values and quality of life of all Miami Beach residents. It’s important to weigh on a case-by-case basis public interest vs. private property owner interest. Any restriction of private owner’s property rights must be necessary to further an important public government interest, where no other less restrictive alternatives are available.
Littering and pollution: A clean City is imperative to a good quality of life and business environment on Miami Beach. I Support continuing our City’s current Styrofoam ban, and oppose any county, state, or federal legislation or executive order which seeks to weaken any of Miami Beach’s current protection of our environment from littering and pollution. Styrofoam is among the most common pollutants in the bay, and it is affecting our beaches and also wildlife life in in our community.
I support review and impact study of a Miami Beach plastic bag ban. Plastic bags are not biodegradable; they endanger marine life, and cause flooding by clogging storm drains.
Homelessness: Homelessness has been a continuing problem in our community for many years. Miami Beach is a great living destination for everybody, and will not change. Instead to attempting to criminalize homelessness with anti-camping ordinances, we need to address the problem in coordination with Miami-Dade County, and other cities. Only a collaborative effort can effectively improve homelessness in Miami Beach.
Many homeless individuals are in immediate need of mental and physical need of medical attention, and vocational training which will help them to re-integrate into our workforce.
I believe Miami Beach should not be exempted from the one (1) percent homeless sales tax on food and beverages, which enables Miami-Dade County’s Homeless Trust to meet the challenges that homelessness presents to our community on a daily basis.
Short-term rental restrictions: I support necessary short-term rental restrictions in order to protect the residential character of our neighborhoods and keep rental prices affordable for long-term residents. However, I oppose excessive punitive measures to deter short-term rentals by non-commercial, non-short-term rentals professional owners or tenants who sublease their residences within the by-laws of their living communities.
It’s important to weigh public interest vs. private property owner interest. Any restriction of private owner’s property rights must be necessary to further an important public government interest, where no other less restrictive alternatives are available.
Moreover, no short rental restriction should apply to property owners who bought their properties before those restrictions went in effect.
Local crime and public safety: Increasing local safety and minimizing local crime is vital to Miami Beach’s quality of life, for both residents and tourists. We need increased community policing, with officers patrolling street on foot rather than is cars. We also need to increase the number of police officers on Ocean Drive and surrounding areas, and provide officers with additional training in the use of deadly force and civil rights laws to avoid profiling and discrimination.
Zika: No more spraying of neuro-toxins when combating Zika mosquitos!
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RAFAEL A. VELASQUEZ FOR MIAMI BEACH COMMISSIONER - GROUP 4
400 Alton Rd #311, Miami Beach, FL 33139, US
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Rafael A. Velasquez for Miami Beach Commissioner - Group 4.