It seems like so much time has passed since Miami-Dade voters recalled Mayor Carlos Alvarez and Commissioner Natacha Seijas. It has been less than a year since that historic and proud moment for voters. Today, one week from the January 31st GOP primary and special election, we see dismal turn out (again) of countywide electors. With two important charter amendments on the ballot, I have spoken to dozens of voters whose apathy seems to override the desire for local change.
I won't lie. I would love for commissioner term limits to be retroactive, giving us an opportunity to completely restructure our local representation and government. The reality is, however, that unless the current commissioners approve such language for a special election ballot question to electors, it will not happen. Of course, we have one shot at getting retroactive term limits on the ballot, but that would mean that on January 31st, voters would need to approve the first proposed amendment "Relating to Initiative Petitions and Elections on Charter Amendments." In this case, we would have a 120 days to collect petition signatures for a charter amendment. I can tell you from experience, 120 is much better than 60, any day.
I won't lie. I feel $92,000 is too high a salary for public service. Notwithstanding the almost three-figure salary, public servants should dedicate their time FULLY to responding to residents' needs and issues. January 31st may be our last chance in a VERY long time to see some real change in Miami-Dade County. January 31st might be our last chance to keep elected officials on their toes.
What message are we sending if we do not vote or turn down both proposed amendments -- that we can recall a veteran commissioner and ask for nothing more? I plead with the people of Miami-Dade to remember that the commission WILL NOT give you what you want -- not now, not any time soon. The commission is hoping that you will vote down these amendments to justify their inaction on charter reform in the future.
It is difficult to swallow at $92,000 salary, I know (trust me) -- especially for people we feel have been more representative to themselves than the taxpayers. Still, the second proposed amendment "Relating to Salaries, Service, and Term Limits of County Commissioners" ascertains the one thing we have always wanted -- for sitting commissioners to finally step down. I would dare say that the bulk of county commissioners that currently hold outside employment make much more than $92,000/year thanks to their connections to lobbyists, consultants, and departmental knowledge.
Last year, we turned down proposed charter amendments that made a mockery of our needs. This year, we are still not getting what we want, but at least it got a little better. Most residents do not want to compromise, but in this case, it seems to be a necessary evil.
Has anyone wondered why commissioners have not spent much time talking about these charter amendments and most non-Republicans are not aware that they have a right to vote on these amendments? Voting on these amendments will stamp county commissioners with an expiration date and give us more time to change that expiration date. We have proven that in less than one week, thousands of voters can come together for a cause. Imagine what we can do with 120.