After failing to raise the funds to qualify, Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam was not part of this week's Democratic debates in Miami.
But Messam is continuing to run his presidential campaign from South Florida.
To be part of the debates, candidates needed to raise money from at least 65,000 donors, with a minimum of 200 donors per state, from 20 different states — or have at least 1 percent support in three national polls.
At the WLRN studios, just blocks from the Adrienne Arsht Center, WLRN asked Messam what he would have said on the debate stage.
He started with his take on fixing the immigration system. His parents immigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica.
WLRN: How would you fix the immigration system, and why is it in your interest to do so?
Messam: I come from an immigrant household. I see, even in my city where we have an ICE facility, the inhumane conditions that take place. In terms of the DACA recipients, Dreamers, individuals on TPS (Temporary Protected Status), all of these individuals should have some form of pathway to citizenship.
What about the backlog of asylum cases? Those seeking asylum are fleeing terrible circumstances in their countries.
When those conditions abroad stay the way they are we'll continue to have thousands and thousands of individuals trying to come to America. So we have no choice but to work with our neighbors in Central America, and the source countries where these individuals are coming from, to help work with their governments … to see how through trade relationships that we could perhaps help strengthen their economies.
Also reparations have been a hot topic of debate for 2020.
This country has yet to deal with race in an honest way.
For anyone to say that there is not a legitimate rationale of why reparations should be even a discussion — I think that they are just misinformed, miseducated about what happened.
If you think about the consequences to African Americans in this country who are descendants of enslaved Africans; that, basically they were stolen, brought to this country, provided centuries of free labor. No ability to own property; no ability to be educated; no ability to start a business. And then you fast forward to districting and redlining. Blacks cannot live in certain neighborhoods. You had Jim Crow laws. There are so many things that prohibited African Americans from being able to to have any upward mobility in this country.
So I support H.R. 40 that calls for a commission to study the impacts. And from there will be recommendations that Congress, and a future Messam administration, could use to discuss what reparations would look like.
You are the hometown candidate in South Florida. What issues affecting the state do you feel are not being addressed adequately by other candidates?
When you think about what happened up in Parkland, in fact, our city sent officers up there to help respond to that incident. I received phone calls from residents saying ‘What am I going to do to keep our high schools safe?’ And I couldn't do anything because state statutes preclude me from doing that.
So I'm suing the state of Florida so that local municipalities can decide, for example, if we want to ban assault style weapons from being in our parks. Which we think is a very sensible thing to do.
What are some of the specifics of your plan to address climate risk?
As president, I would push for an infrastructure bill that would prioritize making our infrastructure more resilient. It's more than just responding to climate change. It would fortify our infrastructure but it will put people to work, and it'll be an economic stimulus as well.
What does the future of your campaign look like?
I am actually working to qualify for the July debates. Once I get on a debate stage — then watch out America.
What makes you different in a good way than your competitors? Why vote for you?
I passed the living wage in my city. I'm beating out China for jobs in Miramar. We're fighting oil drilling right outside of my city.
I should be on a debate stage talking about my specific plan and my other ideas that can help this country move forward.