Daniella Levine Cava, Alex Penelas tout new labor endorsements in Miami-Dade County mayoral race

Alex Penelas
The two candidates are leading contenders in the seven-person field.

With less than a month to go until voters head to the polls, Miami-Dade mayoral candidates Daniella Levine Cava and Alex Penelas are expanding their support from local labor unions.

The two candidates are among leading contenders in the seven-person field and are both trying to position themselves on the left flank of the race. On Tuesday, the Transportation Workers’ Union (TWU) Local 291 backed Penelas, while the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 1652 endorsed Levine Cava.

Levine Cava has attracted the bulk of labor support so far in the contest, including the coveted SEIU Florida endorsement.

However, the TWU endorsement adds to Penelas’ high marks for his work in the transit sector. Penelas has fielded criticism from his opponents over a 2002 plan, which used a half-penny sales tax to expand the county’s transit system. Critics point to a promised bus and rail expansion that fell short under that plan. Penelas highlights the billions the tax generated since its inception as a sign of its success.

Riders Alliance, a recently-formed group focused on transit issues, gave Penelas high marks on his transportation work. Now, TWU Local 291 President Jeffery Mitchell is joining.

“Miami Dade’s current political leadership is increasingly more disconnected with the county’s transit needs and its workforce,” Mitchell said.

“The coronavirus pandemic has only further highlighted these deficiencies and we need someone who truly cares about our frontline, which includes our transit employees and the many thousands of essential workers being put at risk. For us, the only candidate that is qualified to do the job of pushing Miami-Dade County forward is Alex Penelas and we are happy to be endorsing him today.”

Mitchell also pushed back against criticism leveled against Penelas over the half-penny sales tax plan, calling those attacks “red herrings.”

“These commissioners know they have misspent the billions of dollars that have been collected and that’s why there have been no projects,” Mitchell argued. “Transit workers are very clear on this.”

Penelas similarly attempted to put blame on the county commission for the county’s transportation woes. There members of that commission — Levine Cava, Esteban “Steve” Bovo and Xavier Suarez — are competing against Penelas in the mayoral contest.

“The transportation mess and gross transit misspending we have witnessed over the past decade are unacceptable. No one understands that better than our transit workers,” Penelas said.

“They are as frustrated as I am that the three commissioners trying to be Mayor have not done anything. I am grateful that our transit workers, believe in my leadership and have confidence in my ability to get things done as Mayor. We will work together to fix transit and get Miami-Dade back on track.”

Also competing in the 2020 mayoral contest are Carlos Antonio De Armas, entrepreneur Monique Nicole Barley and real estate agent Ludmilla Domond.

The LiUNA Local 1652 endorsement adds to Levine Cava’s list of labor endorsements, including AFSCME Local 121 and Teamsters Local 769.

“Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava has been an unwavering champion for local workers since day one,” said Miguel Aragon of LiUNA Local 1652.

“She has advanced a pro-Miami-Dade worker agenda and we are excited to support her campaign for Miami-Dade Mayor. We know that as Mayor, Levine Cava will continue to be a forceful voice for better wages, local jobs and invest in critical infrastructure initiatives that put area residents to work.”

Added Levine Cava, “I’m profoundly grateful to continue being the only candidate in this race to receive the support and trust of workers all across Miami-Dade. As Mayor, I will continue to be a fierce advocate for our local workforce and invest in community projects that put local residents to work. This is how we build and grow our local economy, by putting Miami-Dade residents first. Our County is built and run by our workers, and they deserve an economy that works for them too.”

The Miami-Dade County mayoral election will take place alongside Florida’s primary elections Aug. 18 with a runoff on Nov. 3 if no candidate receives a majority of the vote — a high likelihood in the seven-person field.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected]


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