By Sonia Diaz

Today, the Alex Penelas for Miami-Dade Mayor Campaign announced its Black Agenda for Hope and Success, a comprehensive plan aimed at addressing economic and social inequities in Miami-Dade’s Black communities for a better Miami-Dade. The announcement, which included participation from various prominent members of the African- and Haitian-American communities, laid Penelas’ vision and proposal for achieving more diversity, inclusion, equity and prosperity in the areas of business, policing, gun violence, housing, gentrification, and healthcare. Supporters joined Alex Penelas via zoom for this important announcement. The plan, which was developed through an inclusive process with the help, guidance and input from numerous community members, focuses on uprooting the systemic racial inequality that plagues Miami-Dade’s Black community as the path towards a creating a more equitable and just community for all. Penelas is the only candidate for Mayor to publicly release a comprehensive plan to address the systemic issues facing the Black community. “Miami-Dade is a national model for diversity. We can and should also be a model of equity and inclusivity. The focal points of this effort will include policing and gun violence, economic equity, neighborhood affordability, healthcare, and County contracting,” said Penelas. “There will be difficult conversations, engaged dialogue and possibly heated debates. Regardless of the form, I will be consistently focused on advancing real changes that make significant and meaningful impacts,” he added.  Throughout the campaign, Penelas has prioritized establishing a diverse campaign staff and has committed to ensuring that the diversity of his campaign translates directly to diversity at County hall. By creating an inclusive government where young black boys and girls across Miami-Dade, and across the nation, can see that there is a place for them at the top of their social, economic, and political structures, Miami-Dade County can become a place where they can look to for hope. Penelas’ Agenda and Plan for Hope and Success is about ensuring that the region becomes a place where young black boys and girls from around this country come to attend college, find a job, and start a family in Miami-Dade; a place where Black Americans feel they have an opportunity for success and where Black culture is celebrated. Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan“Some who have heard the very bold agenda put forth by Alex Penelas today may be surprised, but I am not, because this is who he has always been. He has always used his bully pulpit and his position to do the right thing and fight for our community. I know that we are going to be responding comprehensively to issues affecting the Black community, because Alex doesn’t just put things on paper, he carries them out. He keeps hope alive. I know if the community gets to know the person I know, they will know they are getting a true and compassionate leader when they vote for Alex Penelas.” City of North Miami Vice Mayor Alix Desulme“His effort to address the safety and success of our young Black men is such a critical piece of being able to achieve equity and prosperity for Black communities, not just in Miami-Dade County, but across the country. His willingness and commitment to take this on for our community is just one of the many things in this agenda that make it bold and groundbreaking for Miami-Dade and I’m enthusiastic about having him as our next Miami-Dade mayor.” Pastor Arthur Jackson“Over the last 15 years I have had a chance to develop a relationship with Alex and the one thing I’ve admired about him is his commitment to community, particularly his commitment to the Black community. He governs with great intention, regardless of the situation, and we are going to be intentional about making sure that he is our next leader.” Barron Channer, CEO, The Woodwater Group“I’m stepping out of the shadows today for a very important and critical reason – to support an individual that didn’t reach out to me last week, last month, or even last year, but a long time ago. A man who reached out to understand and embrace what it will take to have an equitable and fair environment for the black community in Miami-Dade County, and that man is Alex Penelas.”

Economic Opportunity  As Miami-Dade has become and international gateway community, the Black community has not shared equitably in its prosperity and growth. As part of Penelas’ plan, he has proposed the following initiatives:

  • Empowering a Deputy Mayor with broad authority to devise policies and legislative actions to expand economic opportunity for the Black community by equipping them with an expansive set of tools to enact meaningful changes in our community. 
  • Tools include the Economic Advocacy Trust, which will be used to expand internet access across Miami-Dade County, beginning in communities with the lowest educational attainment rates and also provide financial literacy, job training, and re-employment programs to the youth and residents in our underserved neighborhoods through a partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
  • Expanding mass transportation by prioritizing development of rail for the North and South Corridors while emphasizing fair access to the resulting economic opportunities for Black-owned businesses.
  • Creating a dedicated plan to position Miami-Dade to compete and win its fair share of Black travelers and migration of Black-owned businesses so they can thrive in the community.

County Contracting and Hiring Despite spending billions to procure services, commodities and construction, Miami-Dade Black-owned businesses have not realized an equitable share of this pie. TO create a more equitable process, Penelas proposes:

  • Directing the County Attorney and staff to take all necessary steps to establish race-conscious procurement that withstands legal scrutiny.
  • Reviewing all relevant policies, procedures, agencies and staff to be aligned as necessary to reduce racial disparities and increase transparency with our procurement activity.
  • Requiring local hiring mandates with strengthened and enhanced race-conscious requirements.
  • Establishing mentor/protégé programs to expand capacity and broaden exposure for Black-owned businesses.
  • Increasing focus on diversity in ownership/equity.

Healthcare In the face of COVID-19, the racial disparity as it relates to healthcare has never been clearer. To address this issue in the black community, Penelas proposes: · Initiating a Countywide Coronavirus Response and Recovery plan that invests in testing, retrains county employees as contact tracers, and secures PPE for the frontline workers in our community like doctors, nurses, transit operators, and first responders. COVID-19. · Investing sizably in our Health and Society programs to address asthma, heart disease, diabetes and various other ailments that are prevalent in the Black community.· Funding programs geared towards providing education on general health and well-being. Policing and Gun Violence Realizing that it is time that Miami-Dade County revisit its approach to policing and its effect in the Black community, Penelas’ plan prioritizes decreasing gun violence and increasing police accountability while also tackling various areas, including:

  • Achieving justice for the families of gun violence by prioritizing diversity in Miami-Dade’s Homicide Investigation Unit and investing more resources into it so that justice for the families of gun violence victims can be delivered. 
  • Providing civilian oversight by taking all necessary legislative steps to re-establish and appropriately fund an IRP that is empowered and effective. 
  • Reintroducing community policing by increasing community relations to foster an environment of collaboration rather than confrontation.
  • Increasing training by equipping officers with modern de-escalation techniques that increase safety of all parties during routine stops.
  • Providing social services by involving social service organizations that can best deal with situations related to mental health, addiction and homelessness. This will preserve police focus for the things they excel and focus on.

Gentrification and Housing Longtime residents of many historically Black communities are facing rapid change and being priced out. Miami-Dade County has to be a place where we can all afford to live in communities to which we have legacy ties.

  • Prioritizing community input, affordable housing and economic expansion for the development of County-owned land.
  • Collaborating with community-based organizations to expand their capacity to shape the development of their community.
  • Strengthening community councils so that neighborhoods like Little Haiti can protect the character of their neighborhood and prevent further gentrification. 

Commission of Status of Black Boys and Men To combat the social disparities that disproportionately affect black men and boys in America, Penelas proposes establishing a Commission on the Status of Black Boys and Men, similar to the legislation proposed by Congresswoman Wilson in Congress. The commission would examine homicide rates, arrest and incarceration rates, poverty, violence, fatherhood, mentorship, drug abuse, death rates, disparate income and wealth levels, school performance in various grade levels and health issues as well as investigate potential civil rights violations affecting Black men and boys, all with the common purpose of developing programs, policies and most of all, solutions.