My wife and I bought our first house almost 14 years ago on the northwest side of Miami Shores and have been proud to call the Village our home ever since. We currently live in central Miami Shores where we are raising our two young boys and expecting twins this year. Like many of you, we fell in love with this Village before we even lived here, and even more so once we started raising a family here. Its future is very important to us.
I own and operate a popular pizzeria in the area, along with my siblings, which my father opened almost 50 years ago. I also spent several years building and operating my own rapid prototyping workshop with unique capabilities, where I assisted many independent inventors and institutional projects with the design and production of custom components. I’m a small businessman and a nerd. I have a passion for problem solving, an obsession with knowing how everything works, and I think I can bring a different kind of energy that this Council and Village would benefit from, if given the opportunity.
At the end of last year, I was appointed to our Charter Review Committee. Our Charter is the foundation of this municipality, akin to a constitution. I and other amazing residents worked hard to produce over a dozen amendments we believe will benefit this Village and its residents. After a marathon of presentation and discussion with the Council I'm proud to say that most of those amendments will appear on the ballot. I hope you will support those amendments as well as my candidacy for the Council.
The Comprehensive Plan
More than any other reason, I’m running because too many of our officials and experts seem to believe that over-development is either necessary or inevitable. Over the last two years, I've been a vocal spectator in our Comprehensive Plan “fixing” process and I realized how quickly things we take for granted in this Village could change. This Comprehensive Plan is required by the state and will dictate the future of our Village. The proposed changes would invite over-development and the justifications for it have been inconsistent and uncompelling to say the least. My wife and I are here to raise our young children and grow old together. I don’t want to look back and think I was part of a generation that put this Village on a path to decline, which is why I can no longer stay on the sidelines.
While it’s true that there was a time when many of us, whether because of our race, religion, or lifestyle, would not have been welcome here, we are here now. We love this Village, we love our neighbors, and we think it’s worth fighting for. We made sacrifices, took risks, and worked too hard for us to feel guilty when we expect our quality of life and the character of our Village to be maintained and defended. Whether you’ve lived here for 60 years or 60 minutes, you know this is a special place and I think we deserve a Comprehensive Plan that reflects that. I look forward to making that happen and getting this chapter behind us so we can get back to doing the people’s business of improving and maintaining our beautiful Village.
Most of the things I would like to accomplish are impossible without the informed support and involvement of our residents. Too much important information isn’t seen unless sought out and too much that is sought out is hard to find or inconsistent. We like that many of the aspects of the Village feel like they’re from another era, but communication isn’t one of them. I would like to see an overhaul of our communications including our website, a significant campaign to get all our residents on the Village email list and make cohesion across all mediums a priority.
Septic to Sewer
We need to move forward as a Village. The reality is that we cannot convert all the Village at once and there are some areas that are more critical than others due to elevation and environmental impact. Many of us are legitimately concerned that after these critical areas are converted, we will be left behind and forgotten. In addition, far too many of us have septic tanks and drain fields near, at, or long past their end of life. These residents are left in a terrible position of having to think about huge investments in their septic system while simultaneously listening to a local government say that sewer is coming, some day.
First, we must have a Village wide plan. Before we move forward, everyone should know how their home fits into that plan, with a best/worst case scenario on time-frame and updates as we progress. We understand that the details for a long-term plan like this will evolve over time, but if we can commit, as a Village, to follow it through to completion, we can ALL focus on pushing these projects forward TOGETHER.
Once we’re all on the same page our next goal is to increase momentum. I would like to have the next phase shovel ready or started by the time Shore’s Estates is complete. “Shovel ready” seems to be the magic words when it comes to getting support from the levels of government above us. By having solid plans, backed by our residents and reserved funds, I think we can bring in a lot more of that support. We also have a lot of neighboring municipalities with the same problems. We should reach out, at the very least, to leverage our collective voice to the state and federal government.
I’m an old-school kind of environmentalist. On the local level I think practical solutions and action go a long way. You won’t find my family on the internet speaking in corporate marketing buzzwords about the environment because were too busy pulling trash out of the bay and rescuing native wildlife in our free time. My wife and I are long time advocates for the native flora and fauna of south Florida. I would push for more native landscaping which requires less water, fertilizer, pesticides, and maintenance in general. It also helps support our native wildlife. Preservation of our natural resources, including our native flora & fauna, waterways, and green spaces, are somethings I will not compromise on. I support and will continue efforts of this Village to reduce our negative impact.
As a father with two little boys and two more on the way, the local schools are a big priority for me, and I’m particularly interested in our elementary school. MSE has come a long way since we moved here. The Cambridge Program and recent renovations are great steps in the right direction but what we really need is more enrollment and support from the community. I think our MSE could be a GREAT school if we as parents in this community take ownership of it. The Village can do more to promote the school and I plan on building a stronger partnership with them than we have had in the past.
In addition, I consider Doctors Charter School one of the crown jewels of this municipality and I’m concerned that their best interests are not being considered in discussions of nearby development. Like MSE, DCS could also benefit from a closer, more visible relationship, with the Village. Many residents are unaware of its existence or location, and I think it deserves more participation from the community.
New Municipal Projects
The rec facilities are obviously antiquated and haven’t filled the needs of this Village for a long time. We have a growing population of young families so demand for these facilities is only going to increase. I want the goals for this or any project to be based on the wants and need of our residents, not a consultant’s sales pitch or a questionnaire designed to lead us in a predetermined direction.
I would steer any new municipal projects away from any trendy or uninspiring architecture that does not fit our character, away from projects designed for a density that we don't plan on having, and towards the appropriate scale for our VILLAGE. We want future generations to look back and thank us for anything we built, rather than look for reasons to demolish it.
Incentivizing MSPD Officer Residency
None of our Miami Shores Police officers are residents of Village and I think we should do something about it. I would like to come up with some incentives starting with an exemption on property tax. I think the value of being able to call our officers neighbors, have their cars parked in driveways on our streets, have an officer speak as a resident at a Council meeting, etc are all worth that investment.
I would like to see a downtown with more businesses that serve the community, not ones that rely on outside traffic or a new apartment building on top of them to be viable. With the increase of active young families to the Village I think we have a better chance of sustaining those kinds of businesses than ever before. The trajectory of our downtown is already moving in the right direction, and we need to support the businesses that took a chance on our Village - many of which are our own residents - not pull the rug on them by making downtown into something else entirely.
We have an impressive Chamber of Commerce for such a small Village that puts on fantastic events, and I would encourage and support more. These events really put the businesses on display, and I can say firsthand that my own patronage downtown always increases afterwards. Our downtown has room for improvement but it’s night and day from when I first moved here in 2009. We need to keep fanning the embers, increase promotion of the corridor, keep the municipal infrastructure beautiful, shiny, and updated, and I think we will all be proud of the downtown that emerges in the coming years.
Improve Economic Viability of Our Existing Facilities and Services
We don’t have these facilities and services to generate profit, however I see a lot of potential low hanging fruit where revenue is concerned. I look forward to working with staff to come up with solutions on how to attract more use and value from our existing infrastructure, giving us more resources to plan for future projects and upgrades.
Restore our Profit Sharing with the Country Club
Due to COVID, we had to give up profit sharing to retain management of the golf course and now that the golf course is fully operational and has a waiting list for membership, I look forward to restoring that agreement.
Thanks to a fantastic finance department, our budget is an impressive source of information and data. After reading all 362 pages I learned a lot about our Village and it has become a valuable reference tool for me. As you might imagine we’ve had historic increases in revenue in recent years and with so much work to do it’s critical that we use these funds wisely. The current council has made some great moves that I commend, like paying off our bond on the aquatic center, but going forward I would like to see a lot more of that revenue going toward funds for our municipal projects, rather than continuing the rapid expansion of our Village bureaucracy.