Miami Herald Letter to the Editor by Gihan Perera
This summer, an unprecedented grassroots effort collected enough petition signatures — more than two and a half times the legal requirement — for a November ballot initiative that would bring accountability and transparency to Miami-Dade county elections. More than 127,000 voters sent a message loud and clear by signing the petition, but tone-deaf county commissioners and the mayor are obstructing the will of Miami-Dade voters by refusing to act.
The initiative would ban contributions by large county contractors to county candidates and close loopholes regarding gifts from lobbyists. The maximum contribution would be capped at $250, down from $1,000, and would update the county’s small-donor fund-matching program, giving everyday people a stronger voice in the process.
With 30 days to count the petitions, the mayor and commissioners have already spent half that time dawdling and passing the buck. The petitions remain boxed up in a warehouse, and more than half the commissioners failed to show up for work to order the start of the petition-counting process.
In Miami-Dade where money equals political access, wealthy developers and big special interests exert undue influence on the democratic process. Women, working families, and communities of color often go unheard or are left out altogether. Voter apathy persists because people don’t trust that their votes will reflect their community’s interests. The mayor and commissioners’ inaction is proving them right.
Every voter deserves an equal voice and equal say. Our democracy fails to represent the community it is supposed to serve when moneyed interests drown out the voices of everyday people. This ambitious, widely popular initiative is tackling top complaints among Miami-Dade voters — that our system is corrupt and our government is bought.
The mayor and commissioners can change that with a simple and clear directive — start counting the petitions.
GIHAN PERERA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FLORIDA NEW MAJORITY, MIAMI