Housing and cultural issues on the ballot in local elections

Florida House candidate Adam Benna meets South Miami voters at Blue Lagoon Residential plaza on Oct. 7. Photo credit @adam_benna on Twitter
Florida House candidate Adam Benna meets South Miami voters at Blue Lagoon Residential plaza on Oct. 7. Photo credit @adam_benna on Twitter
Florida House candidate Adam Benna meets South Miami voters at Blue Lagoon Residential plaza on Oct. 7. Photo credit @adam_benna on Twitter

Adam Benna is a Democrat candidate running for House District 114, which includes the Coral Gables UM Campus.

As a Florida resident, Benna has witnessed the passing of many legislative acts over the last couple of years that he believes have done more harm than good. He wanted to take action and run for office.

Among the issues Benna vows to try to fix, if elected, is the growing dearth of home insurance carriers. According to Benna, Florida has lost many insurance carriers in the past year, had an increase in litigation for insurance claims and, overall, citizens are facing trouble with the property market.

“Property insurance rates have increased a lot, to nearly 30% now,” Benna said. “People obviously don’t want to have their rates raised — they’d rather see the rate in the single digits, rather than 30%, like myself.”

Beyond Miami-Dade County, Florida has made national headlines since the last midterms, where Governor Ron DeSantis was elected. The Republican governor has passed controversial bills, including the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” which bars the teaching in schools about sexual orientation or gender identity and shipping migrants from the U.S./Mexico border to Martha’s Vineyard, M.A.

“Obviously, it is important to vote all the time, but especially right now,” Benna said, stressing how the upcoming election will dictate how Florida politics operate. “In the last two years, we have seen the governor start to attack and erode many of our freedoms, like book banning and critical race theory (CRT). Those issues are not necessarily issues that are affecting our families and our community — they’re smoke and mirror issues, or culture wars, that the governor’s trying to put forth..”

As state officials debate many cultural issues, many of the issues on the ballot revolve around Miami-Dade County (MDC). Housing development pressures in MDC have become a focal point for local city and county candidates this November.

The housing crisis is one that could be best resolved by local legislative bodies as those citizens pay local property taxes to fix these issues, according to Marsha Matson, a retired professor from the political science department at UM, who is running for re-election on the city council in Palmetto Bay, Fla.

“The main difference between state and federal government versus local government is the direct impact legislation has on our community, like allocating money or property taxes, for example,” Matson said. “I think, right now, people are really focused on how our local government impacts our local community, rather than at the national level.”

Students around the UM campus are anticipating to participate in both the general midterm elections and the down-ballot races.

Zofia Kaleta, a sophomore who is majoring in marine biology and ecology, advocates for local voting. She believes these very local, especially city elections, influence the community each day and UM should do better to promote these races overall.

“It is very important to vote in local elections,” Kaleta said. “Even though these aren’t country-wide races, they still have major influence on the community and everything surrounding the community.”

As the elections draw near in the upcoming weeks, the community prepares to advocate for their respective candidates and important issues that will influence these consecutive years.

“People have to be informed and educated about why it’s so important to be involved in your community and government,” Matson said. “After all, it’s our democracy and we have to keep it alive.”