Mayor Levine Cava gives her annual State of the County address (includes video story)

“The future is here and with it the new economy,” proclaimed Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, speaking from Zoo Miami during her State of the County address Wednesday night. 

The address, which was met with cheers, described a booming economy, a low unemployment rate and other achievements. 

“We accelerated building recertification, required associations to post their budgets and safety records and we strengthened our building code,” she stated.

The mayor discussed this program’s pivotal role in solving problems that surfaced after the tragic condo collapse in Surfside killed 98 people two years ago. She said the accident sparked a series of regulations and laws to ensure nothing like that happens again. 

“As we turned the corner, I promised I would put you at the center of our county government,” she added. 

The Thrive305, one of the largest public engagement initiatives in the county’s history, was created to draw input to assure county residents’ voices are heard in local government. Through this program, the county knew what programs to help fund and what new ways were needed to help the county, said Levine Cava, whose term ends this year.

She is the county’s first woman mayor, first Jewish mayor, and also the first Democrat to head the county in two decades. 

The address also focused on Miami’s ever-growing economy. She said unemployment rates had fallen to 1.6%, the county had created 6,000 new jobs and that Miami Dade’s annual gross domestic product is nearly $185 billion.

“It soon became very clear that housing was the greatest challenge to our growth,” continued to the Mayor.

The county has made efforts to help with a housing crisis that she called “the greatest challenge to our growth” by building new units, renovating older ones and protecting tenants through the new Office of Housing Advocacy, which helped over 26,000 families stay in their homes. 

The mayor emphasized the importance of growing within the county, encouraging local business owners to hire locally and mentioning initiatives taken to strengthen the workforce.

“We are investing in our greatest asset: You,” she stated. “That’s why the new Future Ready Scholarships at Miami-Dade College make sure that county residents in need have an opportunity to get a degree at zero cost.” 

The mayor then moved on to a discussion of the “Forward-Looking Bond Package,” which will aim to gather $2.5 billion to fund infrastructure projects, improve housing, protect against flooding and build better parks.

There was little talk of problems that have rocked county hall in the past year, including an audit that found  “lax oversight of raises and more than $3 million in overpayments that could go decades before they’re fully reimbursed,” according to the Miami Herald. Nor was there much discussion of the November election of a county sheriff, who could challenge the mayor’s oversight of the area’s largest police force. 

Levine finished her address by thanking elected officials, county and city staff, residents and investors for making all of these accomplishments possible.

“It’s because of this trust, because of this teamwork and because of your unmistakable courage, that I can declare, with confidence, that the state of our county is strong,” she finished.

Jonathan Casaverde Maimon is a senior majoring in Digital Communications with a track in Digital Journalism as well as a minor in International Relations. When they graduate, they plan on obtaining a master’s in political communications and continuing to work in Washington DC.