By Frances Wang

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The new mayor of Miami-Dade County, Daniella Levine Cava, shared her vision for her first year in office during her first “State of the County” address on Friday morning with much of it focused on the coronavirus pandemic.

Levine Cava highlighted the unity in our community during the COVID crisis, thanked health care workers, essential workers, and educators. She also addressed some of the ongoing issues like vaccine distribution to seniors.

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Most of the speech though was focused on moving forward, highlighting the four Es of her plan: Equity, Economy, Environment, and Engagement.

“This virtual gathering underscores the fact that our community and communities everywhere continue to fight against a global pandemic, which has upended so much in our lives that we used to take for granted,“ she said.

Levine Cava’s speech was reflective, but not dismissive, of some of the current issues including vaccine distribution, which has been extremely frustrating for seniors and their loved ones.

“My administration is soon rolling out a new, centralized registration process for vaccine distribution. This platform will be accessible online and by phone. It will allow all seniors 65+ to sign up and receive a vaccine, a one-time registration, no need to constantly reapply, and it will allow us to fairly allocate vaccines as quickly as we receive new supplies,” she said.

Her speech also looked to the future.

“We can tackle this moment not just as a crisis but as a once in a lifetime opportunity to rebuild and we will build back stronger than ever by investing in equity, our economy, our environment, and renewed engagement with residents we serve,” said Levine Cava.

On equity, Cava said she’s already created the county’s first Office of Equity and Inclusion and hopes to create a level playing field for all. She addressed issues like youth bullying, distrust between communities and law enforcement, and access to mental health resources.

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“By innovating to help the most vulnerable, we are striving for equity,” she said. “But equity is not just a finite list of initiatives, it’s a sustained approach to governance and it must be a team effort.”

On the economy, Cava highlighted the need to innovate and tackle challenges like climate change, transportation, and affordable housing while investing in small businesses, creating programs to expand entrepreneurship, and providing jobs for our community.

“We can’t keep benefits without bottoms up, investing in the people and businesses already here,” she said. “While small businesses are the backbone of our economy, our workforce is its beating heart.”

On the environment, Cava said, “Rising seas and increased pollution have taken their toll. Biscayne Bay has reached its tipping point.”

The mayor pointed out the first annual Biscayne Bay report card and efforts underway to save the bay. Other goals include making buildings more energy-sufficient, reducing waste, and investing in cleaner energy and less waste.

“Miami-Dade is on the frontlines of the global climate crisis and we cannot sit on the sidelines.”

Lastly, engagement. Mayor Cava believes it is necessary to attain all the goals she laid out for the county’s future.

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“To solve our biggest challenges we need a bigger table that brings ideas and input from people we serve directly into the process of governing. We can bring government closer to the people and together we will make sure our residents are heard.”

Frances Wang