After nearly dying, North Miami councilman of 20 years wins re-election

Despite nearly losing his life, Scott Galvin ran for re-election and won his sixth term as North Miami councilman for District 1.

In December, Galvin was struck with aortic dissection and was left with weak vocal cords due to intubation that lasted 24 hours.

“My aorta came off of my heart, so my heart was still pumping blood, but it was going nowhere. My arms [and] my legs weren’t getting any blood,” said Galvin. “Luckily, I made it to the hospital alive.”

Some residents of North Miami were astonished.

“It’s surprising to hear that he still decided to run,” said Nathalie Sepulveda, an 18-year North Miami resident. “He is someone all councilmembers should look up to.”

According to North Miami’s website, Galvin is the longest-serving council member in the city’s history. He has been a council member for District 1 for the past 20 years. District 1 covers the northeastern part of North Miami between Biscayne Bay and Northeast 14th Avenue.

Galvin believes being a lifelong resident and a longstanding council member was key to his campaign’s success in the May election.

“We’ve trusted him for so many years. He hasn’t given us a reason not to,” said Sepulveda.

District 4 Councilmember Alix Desulme said the votes prove Galvin is “truly a public servant.”

“Obviously, they [the voters] must not have any issues with him to re-elect him,” said Desulme.

“We don’t agree on everything. When it comes to legislation on how to run different things, we have different ideas,” said Desulme. “But at the end of the day, we know that we are there for the betterment of the city. “

Aside from being a council member, Galvin is the director of Wellness and Community Prosperity for the YWCA of Miami-Dade, a nonprofit organization that manages women’s health programs.

“I help match women of low income with no insurance to donors who are willing to help pay for their services,” said Galvin.

According to the Victory Fund, a national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ individuals, Galvin is the longest-serving LGBT legislator in Florida and North Miami’s first openly gay elected official.

Galvin has been with a partner for 13 years and they are currently engaged.

Galvin said North Miami’s biggest challenge is affordable housing because the city does not have full authority to control it.

“It’s not like all you have to do is take two to three votes and the problem is fixed,” said Galvin.

“There are a lot of factors that play into it…[like] people’s salary.”

He said the city does not control Florida’s minimum wage, which affects people’s ability to pay for their homes. However, he plans to do as much as he can to help make housing affordable.

“As a city, we can’t just wait on other people to handle it. We have to do everything we can, even that’s small, even if that’s a limited situation,” said Galvin.

This includes, he said, dedicating vacant city land to affordable housing. He also wants to create a “developers fee” that would require developers to build affordable housing into their projects or dedicate money to the city to use toward it.

“If we can just provide it [affordable housing] for a few hundred, we’ll have done more than most communities have,” said Galvin.

Galvin has other issues on which he wants to focus. Among them is Sole Mia, the 184-acre development at 15055 Biscayne Blvd. that will have residences, a school, parks, a hotel and more than 500,000 square feet of office and retail space.

“We have to decide how to manage that and how to use tax revenue to benefit the rest of the city and fund programs. The regular garbage issue, sidewalk issues, and police issues. There is a lot we have to do,” said Galvin.

Some residents believe he runs for council because he wants to be more than just the face of the city.

“The fact that he continues to run for city council instead of a mayor or something else shows he really cares about the certain community and its future,” said 20-year resident Sofia Chirino.

Galvin embraces his position in the local government.

“Most people, when they talk about politics, they think of the president of the United States, but in reality, your local elected officials have far more impact on your life,” said Galvin.  

Francesca Romana Bozza Aureli is a journalism student at Florida International University. She plans to pursue a law degree after completing her studies.