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Women in Politics: Three Extraordinary Candidates Running for Florida District and County Office in 2020

With November 3rd fast approaching, yard-signs, TV-ads, and campaign canvassers continue to grow in abundance and surround us as we fully emerge into election season. Presidential election years can be hectic, but they can also mark a period of fundamental change for national and local constituencies. In the Miami-Dade county community, several important and contended seats at the district and county level are up for grabs. However, amidst the chaos, three women with extraordinary histories in public service continue to endeavor through the current political climate.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is currently vying for reelection in Florida’s District 26 against Miami-Dade county mayoral incumbent Carlos Gimenez. Mucarsel-Powell, a Democrat with an extensive history working in the public sector, immigrated to the United States as a young girl. Like many living in the South Florida area, she has strong roots in Hispanic and Latin culture, currently serving in the Hispanic Caucus. Mucarsel-Powell is the very first South-American born member in congressional history, marking a historic advancement in the representation of the Latin community in politics.

While she has already left her mark on the nation, she continues to advocate to expand healthcare, make college more affordable, combat Climate Change, and raise the minimum wage. As it stands, our community is in a time of social and political change that requires effective action and consideration for the quality of life of all individuals. Mucarsel-Powell’s strong and successful leadership is a great example of the necessary guidance that the South Florida community needs at the moment.  

Daniella Levine Cava

Perhaps one of the most highly contested seats in the 2020 election is that of Miami-Dade County Mayor. With the diverse and multi-faceted South Florida community, the mayoral election is increasingly significant in a time of the growing Black Lives Matter movement. This year, Daniella Levine Cava faces off with Republican opponent Esteban Bovo in a run-off election. Levine Cava moved to South Florida in 1980 to complete law school at the University of Miami, and since has gained extensive legal experience and made history as District 8 Commissioner.

Levine Cava introduced and passed the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, which has aided to ensure equal pay and equity for women in county contracting and county hiring. Levine Cava made Miami-Dade the first county in the nation to ratify this UN convention, a feat which the national government has yet to do.

Her continued effort for gender equality coupled with her public support of the Black Lives Matter movement, her stance on expanding public transit, and her environmental consciousness emphasize her capable and effective leadership. As Commissioner, Levine Cava has already helped shape a culture of equality and social justice- two points that Miami-Dade needs in a Mayor during this tumultuous time.

Donna Shalala

Donna Shalala is an Ohio-born woman with Lebanese heritage who served as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Carter. In 1979, she made history when she helped placed the first solar-panels on the roof of the White House, which marked a significant advancement in the use of renewable energy. Later, she was appointed by President Clinton to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), becoming the longest serving HHS Secretary in U.S. history when she served for eight years. As Secretary, she established the Children’s Healthcare Insurance Program, which currently still insures over 7.6 million children.

Shalala also served as President of the University of Miami before she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2008. During a leave of absence from the University of Miami, she served as President of the Clinton Foundation to continue improving global health and combat child obesity. Shalala's experience and expertise showcases how she is another example of the type of effective leadership that Florida needs.

All three of the women mentioned are immensely qualified to assume- and in some cases reassume- office. When deciding who to vote for, it is important to make choices based on what you feel you and your community needs at this moment. Regardless of the outcome of the 2020 elections, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Daniella Levine Cava, and Donna Shalala represent what it means to continue to break glass ceilings in a male-dominated field.

Sheila Martinez is a Cuban-American immigrant currently residing in Miami and attending Florida International University. She is studying International Relations and Political Science with a concentration in human rights and political transitions and is uniquely passionate about empowering women in her community. In the future, Sheila hopes to leverage her passion for representing the underprivileged through a life-long career in the public sector. Some of Sheila's hobbies include reading, going to the movies, and visiting museums.
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