Miami-Dade Mayoral and Congressional candidates talk climate change   

Clockwise from top left: Mucarsel Powell, Gimenez, Bovo, Levine Cava (Photos courtesy of their offices)

According to the Pew Research Center, seven in 10 Americans who live near the coast say climate change is actively affecting their community. This is due to an increase in temperature and documented sea-level rise around the globe. Experts predict much of South Florida will be underwater by 2050 (See what 5 feet of seawater would do to your home here).

Americans feel climate change is one of the important topics in the 2020 election.

The issue has received particular notice in two races: the county mayoral contest between Daniella Levine Cava and  Steve Bovo and the District 26 Congressional matchup of Carlos Gimenez and Debbie Mucarsel Powell. What follows is a breakdown of their positions:

Levine Cava has been named A “water warrior” for her strong stance on climate change. This nickname was coined after she proposed legislation to help improve water testing of our bay and beaches.

In a 2019 town hall meeting on the issue, she urged the public to take the crisis seriously. “These issues are essential for our quality of life,” she said. “They’re essential for our economy. They’re essential for our survival. And we need to be sure that in the process of dealing with the climate change crisis that we leave no community behind.”

Her opponent, Steve Bovo, did not attend an August 6 Miami Climate Alliance event that was to be headlined by the Miami-Dade mayoral candidates. But in a 2018 statement, Bovo, who was then commission chairman, stressed the importance of resiliency efforts. He has focused effort on developing a healthier, ecologically friendly city, safer communities and a solid economy for small businesses. 

During his tenure as Miami-Dade mayor, Gimenez has helped organize environmental conservation work, such as a 2014 $12.6 billion job to improve infrastructure and water quality. It was the largest capital improvement project in county history. 

In 2015, Gimenez took the advice of local environmental activists and created the office of chief resilience officer. The cost of $300,000 annually was set to fund “a resilient and environmentally sustainable future by identifying vulnerabilities, coordinating stakeholders and facilitating innovative solutions.”

Gimenez’s competition, Florida State Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell advocates for Florida’s natural ecosystem. During her time in Congress, Powell served as vice chairwoman of the U.S. House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee. She worked to provide funding for restoration of the Everglades. She has combated climate change by investing in cleaner energy and enriching South Florida’s coastlines.

Mucarsel-Powell is committed to investing in clean energy and infrastructure to protect communities from sea-level rise. It is a key issue in her platform.

Powell has worked for years with the nonprofit, Key Largo-based Coral Restoration Foundation, where environmentalists focus on slowing the impact of climate change on marine life and reefs. 

“We can’t keep talking about protecting our coast and our environment,” she said. “Less talk, more action. South Florida is ground zero for climate change, and we must act now.”

Want to vote early? Here are early voting sites in Miami-Dade County.

A Brazilian-American and Miami native, Elijah Pestana is pursuing his undergraduate in broadcast media and digital communication at FIU. He uses his experience within the performing arts, television and higher education sectors to pursue his deep passion for storytelling and entertaining others. He aspires to become a late-night talk show host, combining his gift of comedy and love for journalism to promote media literacy for future generations.

I am currently a major in Broadcast Media. I have worked for the South Florida Media Network and the school's newspaper, PantherNOW.

Writing allows me to express myself through stories and scripts. I have a deep passion for sports and the community.

Katerina is a leader of Campus Election Engagement Project, promoting nonpartisan democratic engagement work on campus. She previously worked as a dedicated writer for the entertainment section of PantherNOW. Today, she is a writer for WSVN. In the future, Katerina hopes to be an investigative journalist.