District 5 Candidate Zoraida Barreiro Says Miami-Dade Should Be More 'Efficient' With Money

Jun 14, 2018

The Miami-Dade County Commission District 5 seat has not been open for 20 years.

Former Commissioner Bruno Barreiro resigned earlier this year to run for Congress, and now his wife Zoraida Barreiro is in the race for the seat. 

In the May 22 primary, Zoraida Barreiro, came in second with a close 33 percent following her opponent Eileen Higgins, who took 35 percent. Barreiro has spent many years living in District 5. She says she knows the areas and communities that make up the district -- downtown, parts of Brickell, Little Havana and parts of Miami Beach. 

The runoff election is June 19. Barreiro joined Sundial to talk about transportation and affordable housing. Barreiro says education is key to improve quality of life in District 5.

WLRN:  Zoraida Barreiro, why are you running?

Barreiro: I'm running because I have been part of this community for over 30 years -- of District 5. I identify with a lot of the people in the community. I'm an immigrant, a mother and I own my own business in the community. So both personally and professionally I have to juggle and survive with the county.

What did you learn from the experience?

My main thing during that race was the need of the community. We have problems with housing. Going into someone's home -- obviously in our community, especially this district has a major crisis when it comes to affordable housing. There's a large community of seniors that are choosing either to eat or to create their own (housing options) because they don't qualify and haven't been accepted into any waiting lists that are eternal. So we need to do better. We need to increase the number of affordable housing units that we have not only for the seniors but there's a lot of families that need workforce housing ... so that they're able to survive in our community.

What are your priorities in trying to solve this problem?

Obviously the S.M.A.R.T. plan is very important because this is what we want ... we want connectivity to all corners of the county and it will be ideal to have a train that goes everywhere. But realistically funding is not there for all these projects. We need to focus on the long-term fixes that will get us where we need to be.

Flooding and sea-level rise is something that we see a lot of here. What role does the county play? What more can Miami-Dade do in preparing? How do you tell people you know what we're doing to try to fix this problem?

I think education is key. I think we are aware of the problem that is getting worse. Last year the flooding here even in the city of Miami was horrible and ... the voters voted for the bond issue to help tackle that. I think we're heading in the right direction. But education is key.

You know all of this of course costs money. So how do we finance this flooding infrastructure? Are we asking voters to pay more taxes ?

Well we have to be more efficient with our money. Obviously you know the bond issue passed so City of Miami is working on sea-level rise issues and helping. People maybe would not be as hesitant to pay more taxes if they saw the results and where it is going to and that their government is working as efficiently as possible to get all the needs of the community met.

As you said we have some of the wealthiest people here but we have a lot of people spending 40 to 45 percent of their income on housing. What can you do to fix that?

Well unfortunately the prices of the property keep coming up. It has to be incentivized through financial aid and credits. Right now the county itself has a lot of property. You know some of these are affordable housing units or buildings in places that have a lot of parking. We need to look at all those sites and see how they could be maximized and work within that which we already own to incentivize the builders to build more housing there.