TRENDING TOPIC FOR THURSDAY, MAY 12TH: It’s finally Friday! With elections in August and November this year, we already have our eye on the City of Miami mayoral race that will take place in November 2017. We leave you with the first official announcement.

CITY OF MIAMI UPDATE: City of Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez was on “Pedaleando con Bernie” on Radio Mambi 710AM, talking to Bernadette Pardo about his announcement to run for Mayor of the City of Miami.

Commissioner Suarez focused on the reasons why he decided to run for City of Miami Mayor in 2017. The commissioner initially talked about being around politics since he was a baby. “When my father campaigned in 1979, I was only two years old, and was taught to ask people to vote for my dad. Growing up, I had the great blessing of going door to door with him when he was campaigning. I was able to see every corner of Miami and hear from our community and their needs. I fell in love with the city, and I have lived here my whole life.” He continued, “I have had the privilege of being commissioner for six years, and I want to continue serving this great community.” Suarez highlighted some of his accomplishments, including “helping the city get out of the economic disaster it was in, to where it is now with a surplus of $130 million. We are fortunate to have a city that is prospering in many ways. However, there are some areas I want to improve on to continue moving us forward. The cost of living in Miami continues to go up and we have problems with traffic and mass transportation. These are issues I have been working on as commissioner. We have completed affordable housing projects in Miami, and continue to look for more alternatives.” Regarding transportation, Suarez, who also serves as Vice Chair of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), discussed “recently approving the SMART plan to bring mass transit to the entire county, expanding Tri-Rail to connect to Downtown, and implementing the trolley system that has doubled its routes in Miami and gets people to many different parts of the city for free.” For Suarez, the focus must be on solving issues for the people he represents now and hopes to represent in the future. “An effective elected official is someone who makes himself available to the public, who listens to his constituents, and who is sincere in helping all the members of his community, so they can have a better quality of life in the City of Miami. If I can achieve that and can continue to show our community that I am here to serve them, then I don’t have a doubt that the residents of the City of Miami will instill their confidence in me like they have done before.” Suarez concluded, “I am really enthused about this announcement. It was not an easy decision. To do this job well, you must give it your all and dedicate 24 hours per day, seven days per week. I know what it takes and I am ready.”

TRANSPORTATION IN MIAMI-DADE: Roberto Rodriguez-Tejera and Ricardo Brown spoke with  Alice Bravo, Director of the Department of Transportation and Public Works in Miami-Dade on their show “Roberto y Ricardo” on Actualidad 1020AM.

Bravo discussed some of the challenges she has faced during her 10 months as director and said, “I knew that we had many matters that need attention. We are working hard and have brought on new people with fresh ideas, in an effort to implement new plans that have worked in other cities.” When asked what her strategic plan was for this department, Bravo responded, “we combined different departments, transit, public transportation and public works. This was Mayor Gimenez’s vision, he has worked throughout the years to improve our transportation system. In combining the departments, we created a mission to make the county more mobile. When we put these together and started talking about new technology, we were able to come up with short and long-term projects.” She continued, “for example, one of the short-term projects we are working on now is updating the traffic-light system so it is more efficient. We started with 12 roadways in the county that we concluded would benefit from synchronized traffic lights. We are also working with the Department of Transportation on others.” Bravo mentioned other viable solutions that would help alleviate traffic. “Every day, we move 250,000 people on buses. We have routes where we need to add more buses, because they are always full. Helping individuals find carpool would help traffic as well. “Last week we were able to legalize ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, which was a great achievement. If we look at how these companies are working in other cities, we can see how these services work in conjunction with public transportation. They help people get to public transportation from their house or work, so people have the opportunity to leave their homes using the apps instead of taking their car.” Bravo mentioned that they would be talking to both companies to see how they can open up more options.

MORE RECESS IN OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS?: Yoly Cuello had Miami-Dade County School Board Member Lubby Navarro on her show “Noticias del Mediodia” on Radio Caracol 1140AM, discussing the debate over students having more recess or vocational classes in school.

Navarro explained how the Miami-Dade County School Board gave preliminary approval to change the recess policy (read more here). “Yesterday, we had a School Board meeting. As part of our agenda, there was a proposal to change our recess policy. We heard from many people, both teachers and parents. Parents asked that the kids have more recess time, knowing that they have a lot of pressure and exams, and need to decompress. We also heard from a lot of teachers who are worried recess could cut into the arts, bilingual classes or other extracurricular activities. Teachers focused on how this would affect them in the classroom on a day to day basis as well.” Navarro pointed out, “unfortunately, there isn’t enough time in the day to do everything that we want to do. In the structure of the day, we have a policy in the county that is proactive in answering the question of recess and we know that recess is very necessary.” When asked how this was going to be balanced, Navarro responded, “all the administrators are able to come to us and bring us their proposals for the policy for the different areas of discussion that we heard yesterday. We received research indicating that children need more recess time, and we heard from teachers who said that they know when the best time to give these kids a break for recess is. Now the policy will return to the School Board next month so we have a second vote before the rule becomes final. We need to decide what is best for our children.”