Ms. Florez, founder and Co-Chair of the West Avenue Corridor Neighborhood Association, said, “Although I had hoped to work on those challenges and simultaneously run for office, this is proving unrealistic. The citywide door-to-door campaign I planned would prevent me from working on the imminent threats to my neighborhood - flooding, road construction, and a major redevelopment project with impacts not only my neighborhood but communities citywide.”
Ms. Florez believes the best way to continue her advocacy is to remain “on the street,” organizing the community, educating residents about important issues and meeting with the Commission and staff to bring residents’ voices to City Hall.
“Though I will not be a candidate, I hope to contribute to the dialogue and the debate on issues critical to our community, including quality of life, economic diversity, a sustainable tax base, pension reform, and honest local government.”
“My campaign may have been brief, but it has been rewarding. I am inspired by all the people who want to make a difference and volunteered to help.”
Ms. Florez has strong beliefs on what will make the City of Miami Beach a leader for years to come. She calls on all the candidates to be direct about matters of importance to the future of our City:
• Quality of Life: Miami Beach is a unique place offering a haven for people from all walks of life. A strong community that is attractive and safe is a strong draw for investment by businesses, homeowners and tourists. Quality of life impacts range from enforcing nuisance complaints to honoring zoning requirements and intents to preserving our unique architecture to planning for a sustainable future based on greenspace, clean energy and creative approaches to flood control.
• Pension Reform: Our future obligations are unsustainable and will bankrupt our City if we do not address them now. Municipalities all over the country have been forced to make extremely difficult decisions because of pension obligations topping available reserves or revenues. Miami Beach has the opportunity to avoid the pain of drastic cuts or raising property taxes to pay for pension obligations by fixing the problem now.
• Economic Diversity: Tourism should continue to be a strong economic engine; however, since tax revenues from tourist activity are by law only allocated to pay for tourism related City expenses, as costs and obligations increase, we must find other means of supporting the needs of our residents, maintaining our infrastructure, paying for our workforce or funding future pension obligations. Diversifying revenue streams and focusing on recruiting new residents or types of businesses to our City creates potential for investments of money or intellectual capital to seed opportunities for well-paying jobs, a stable tax base and a better-educated workforce. With economic diversity, our City will have a foundation to weather the cycles of global economic instability that impact tourism in our community and elsewhere.
• Effective Government: Our City’s bureaucracy inhibits investment, encourages corruption, overlooks residents’ complaints and penalizes small businesses. Governments all over the country operate with less staff despite similar constituency and budget sizes. The high cost of running our government means we have less money to pay down debt, fund pension obligations, support more infrastructure repairs or provide greater services to residents. We must become leaders in this area through technology, best practices and benchmarking and creating a culture of accountability at all levels.
About Christine Florez
Ms. Florez is the Co-Chair and Founder of the West Avenue Corridor Neighborhood Association. Her background is extensive with over twenty years in the public relations industry including employment at Burson-Marsteller, Accenture and Bain & Company. She is a graduate of New York University and Pratt Institute, currently serves on the City of Miami Beach Web Focus Group, is an alumnus of the Miami Beach Leadership Academy and was a former Director of and is current member of Miami Beach United. She has been a permanent resident of Miami Beach since 2008 and a frequent visitor for over twenty years when her mother retired to South Beach. Formerly of New York City, she has taken Miami Beach as her home and, as such, dedicated her considerable energies to improving her community.
Examples of Christine Florez’s advocacy can be found on the site of the West Avenue Corridor Neighborhood Association (WAvNA) www.wavna.com. Her background and work history can be found at www.christinegflorez.com.