MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Florida’s Primary Election is August 18. There are quite a few high profile races including the race for Miami Dade County Mayor.
CBS4’s Jim DeFede spoke to the four major candidates and those interviews aired on Facing South Florida.
Here is part of Jim’s interview with Miami-Dade Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo Jr.
DeFede: Do you see yourself as the Republican candidate in this mayoral race?
Bovo: I see myself, Jim, as the candidate that’s representing the homeowner and business owner, the property taxpayer in this community, I see myself as the candidate that just wants to make sure that county government and its dollars are being spent wisely in the you know, in the expect or meet the expectation that residents want. Whether you’re a Democrat, Independent or Republican and you’re a homeowner, I would suspect that you don’t want your money being misspent. And that’s the constituency that I’ve spoken to and spoken too loudly. You know I’ve been consistent in every forum that I’ve gone to that I believe any program that the county initiates should try to serve a greater good and should meet the expectations of a lot of the residents in Miami Dade County, which you know, quite honestly, over the course of the last couple of years has been kind of drifting into more social engineering and I’m not sure if county government was designed for that. You know we provide service; police fire, we repair your street, you know, we cut the grass in the median. And in many instances, you know, we started failing there, we started doing budget cuts in those areas to fulfill other areas that perhaps sometimes a very loud minority would like.
DeFede: You have the endorsement of Marco Rubio; you have the endorsement of Jeanette Nunez. You have the Republican establishment behind you. I understand that you don’t want to only appeal to Republicans, but that is the driving lane that you have tried to focus on in this primary election and that’s what sets you apart from an Alex Penelas or Danielle Levine Cava, am I wrong?
Bovo: Well, you just mentioned two individuals who are obviously very hyper liberal and hyper left and they are definitely left of where I stand on the political spectrum. But again, I speak to if there’s a liberal that owns a home and pays taxes, I think they would be very interested in making sure their money’s not being misspent.
DeFede: I want to ask you that because I know that you know, you used the word social engineering there a second ago, hyper liberal, and I know that in some mailers from some PACs, you know, the word socialist or communist sometimes it gets thrown around. I just want to ask you bluntly; do you consider Daniel Levine Cava or Alex Penelas to be either a socialist or a communist?
Bovo: Well, living in the United States, nobody’s really a communist, right. Everybody’s a capitalist and they’re both very wealthy. In fact, they’ve made a mint of money in their lives. So I don’t think they’re communists, but are they appealing to a hyper left crowd in this in this election absolutely.
DeFede: Give me an example of the hyper left extreme policy than either Daniella or Alex support because you’re talking in generalities. Give me a specific that you think is hyper-liberal, hyper-left socialism?
Bovo: I think the more that you take property tax dollars and you move them away from what are the four services and invest perhaps in, in immigration, for example, you know, our county government invests money in immigration services. And not that they’re not important, but the private sector does an apt job and there’s a lot of immigration lawyers in the community.
DeFede: I’m interrupting you because I just want to be clear, because I don’t understand when you say immigration services, what specifically, what county program are you referring to?
Bovo: Jim, we take about $15 million dollars of our county budget property tax dollars invested in CBO’S [Community-Based Organizations]. Many of these CBOS do fantastic work and are worthy of our support. But embedded in that CBO process, ARE programs like immigration services, but we pay through a third party through property taxes to provide immigration services for the most part, you know, for folks that are here illegally and are trying to get their status addressed. And to me, that’s an example of a misuse of what I believe would be government funds, you know.
DeFede: Can you identify; can you identify one of those CBO groups?
Bovo: I don’t I don’t have them off the top of my head, but I’d be more than happy to send you the info. So you have it but like that, on the CBO side, we fund a lot of programs that could be very questionable that the county uses, again, property tax dollars to defeat a narrative that goes away again, from the core services. This is a difference between a police officer showing up at your house in five minutes, as opposed to 15 minutes. If you’re, you know, using money that could help us maybe do the services that we expect.
DeFede: What’s the current county size of the budget? If you’re forgetting capital, you’re around $3 or $4 billion?
Bovo: Well, a total budget is about $9 billion budget,
DeFede: But the operating, the taking aside the capital, 3-4 billion, you’re talking about $15 million to all CBO’s. And do you really think that cutting CBO’s is going to make the police arrive at my door faster?
Bovo: No, I didn’t say that. What I’m saying is that we need to look at our entire budget and CBO is just one example of it. You know, you could look at procurement, you can look at other items within our county operations that ended up costing us more money, instead of us being able to invest the money where we should be investing it.
All of Jim’s interviews are available at CBSMIAMI.COM/2020