Voting

Candidates for public office are challenged to articulate their positions in writing and in person. They juggle busy schedules to make public appearances, deliver speeches and participate in candidate forums. They do all of these things while raising money and fending off either misleading attacks or legitimate accusations made by their opponents. Incumbents have the added obligation of doing the job for which they were elected while campaigning for the office they seek, which are not always one and the same.

That is why The Miami Times appreciates the responses it received from candidates to a simple questionnaire we developed. Judicial candidates were the most compliant and all their responses appear in this week’s newspaper along with our endorsements.

Unfortunately, the response rate from candidates in all other races was poor. If answering our questions was a prerequisite to being considered for a Miami Times endorsement, today’s list of recommendations would look very differently.

The following candidates are to be applauded for their responsiveness: Gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried; Florida District 108 incumbent Rep. Dotie Joseph; Miami-Dade County Commission District 2 candidates William “DC” Clark and Wallace Aristide; Miami-Dade County Commission District 8 candidate Alicia Arellano; and M-DCPS board member Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall. You may find their responses to our questions online at miamitimesonline.com/electionnewshub, but here is a brief summary.

Nikki Fried rightly identified affordable housing, access to reproductive health care and public education as three of the top issues in the state. While saying that there is no denying that Florida faces an affordability crisis, Fried said she would “establish an Affordable Housing and Planning Task Force to recommend immediate action, declare a housing state of emergency and direct the attorney general to investigate egregious rent hikes to stop price gouging.”

Florida House Rep. Dotie Joseph’s responses indicate an impeccable understanding of her district and her role in government. She made a solid case for her reelection when she wrote, “During my time in the Legislature, I have sought to dismantle structural racism and sexism. My efforts yielded fruit in the form of laws that protect survivors of abuse, provided access to a $6 million verdict for a police shooting victim, and tackled health disparities. I’ve also helped secure millions in funding for our HBCUs and address infrastructure/roads, education, food, health and environmental needs in the county.”

In the race for Miami-Dade County Commission District 2, candidate William “DC” Clark wrote that, “To me, there’s nothing more noble than serving your own without expecting anything in return.” He’s been serving his community for more than 40 years without a public office, so that says a lot. Clark wants to bring the police, school system and business communities together to divert adolescents away from crime and into a trade as one of his routes to reducing gun violence.

Wallace Aristide, also vying for the same District 2 seat, delivered a confusing response to how he would address his No.1 issue – housing – but there is no doubt that he would like to tackle other issues as well, such as child care, small business assistance, home renovations and sidewalk improvements.

Although we chose not to endorse in the Miami-Dade County District 8 race where Danielle Cohen Higgins is trying to hold on to the office she was appointed to by fellow commissioners a year ago, her opponent, Alicia Arellano, responded to our questionnaire with direct answers regarding her priorities, which are holding the UDB line, preserving agricultural lands and transportation.

Veteran Miami-Dade County Public Schools board member Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall identified her top priorities as student and child safety, student achievement and parental involvement. She wrote, “Child safety is not just a school problem, and I work with other elected officials to coordinate efforts to protect our most precious resource.”

While we respect the busy schedules candidates are keeping, we believe choosing to ignore a newspaper’s questions is less a product of juggling priorities and perhaps more indicative of a disregard for that publication’s readership.