Miami-Dade County Mayor: Unity in messaging amid emergencies lacking between cities, county

Still time to get charter amendment on ballot for November

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is looking to change the law to prevent cities from enacting their own rules apart from the county during emergencies.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Earlier this week there was a call for “unity in messaging” during a roundtable news conference with several Mayors in Miami-Dade County hosted by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Now, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is looking to change the law to prevent cities from enacting their own rules apart from the county during emergencies.

He first floated the idea during Thursday’s Miami-Dade County Commissioners Special Meeting. The idea he said is to present it as a charter amendment so voters can decide if they want “one voice” during an emergency situation like the public health emergency of fighting a pandemic.

Gimenez said this could prevent the sort of patchwork rules and messaging residents in the county experienced since the outbreak began spanning from different versions of a mask mandate to curfew times and varying re-opening of businesses timelines.

”It causes mass confusion here when you have different messaging coming from the same area,” said Mayor Gimenez during a Friday morning virtual news conference, “so I do think we should put it to the people of Miami-Dade that once an emergency order is issued, by the mayor of Miami-Dade County, that is the individual who should be in charge of the emergency that is being confronted by the people of Miami-Dade.

He said the aim would be that during an emergency there is “one set of rules.” His proposed charter amendment idea “doesn’t mean there can’t be nuances in a particular area,” Gimenez said.

He offered up Miami Beach as an example of a community that due to its entertainment district “may take different rules” than the rest of the county but added that the messaging should come from one area. In fact, on Friday, Miami Beach announced that it would move the curfew up to 8 p.m. in its Entertainment District — that’s two hours earlier than the countywide curfew.

Voters countywide elect Miami-Dade County’s mayor, which he said is a full-time and a “strong mayor’” position with administrative authority.

He also referenced how this could apply to other emergencies that require consistency in rules and messaging like preparing for a hurricane. But it was clear that this “one voice” idea stems from the on-going fight against COVID-19 that resulted in different rules across the county.

”This is not self-serving,” Gimenez told reporters as he referenced that he is “termed out” and so if this made it to the ballot and passed it would take effect after he is out of office, “ but the next Mayor should not be facing the same situation that I have been facing here for the last three to four months.

”Myriam Marquez, Communications Director and Senior Advisor for the Office of the Mayor tells Local 10′s Christina Vazquez charter amendments would have to come from a Commissioner sponsoring it, not directly from the Mayor.

Charter amendments do have to be approved by Miami-Dade County Commissioners to be put on the ballot. She added, “there is still time to place on the November ballot.”

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."