If I Were Mayor
9:23 pm
Sun March 2, 2014

What Does Homestead Mayor Jeff Porter Need To Know?

Mayor Jeff Porter of Homestead (right) says he "can't undo the past" but is trying to make government processes as open as possible.
Mayor Jeff Porter of Homestead (right) says he "can't undo the past" but is trying to make government processes as open as possible.
Credit Daniel Bock / MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Our If I Were Mayor project continues as we bring your ideas to the mayors in office.

Homestead's mayor Jeff Porter, a former councilman and vice mayor, took office last fall. He follows Steve Bateman, one of the three mayors arrested in August of 2013 for corruption charges.    

 

During Porter's campaign trail, he listed a four-point plan describing what he would do if he were elected mayor: create jobs, reduce taxes, tackle traffic congestion and look into public safety. For our If I Were Mayor project, WLRN asked members of the community what they would do if they were in charge of Homestead. Here's a four-point plan based on their input:

1. Let Us Look For Jobs!

Homestead resident Marvin Martin isn't as concerned about job creation as he is concerned with job interference.

"If I were mayor, I could tell the police to not stop people who are looking for a job standing by the street," said Martin.  

2. Use Taxes for More Arts and Education

Reduction of taxes didn't come up during interviews with Homestead's residents, but how to use tax money did. 

Nancy Coppola, chairwoman of a lecture series in Homestead, would "work to reopen the closed Seminole Theater, which has been closed for years and millions wasted on refurbishing it." More than $4 million has been spent in the past 10 years on the theater, but the non-profit overseeing its renovation squandered the money and was included in a county audit of Homestead's community redevelopment agency. Coppola would like see the theater re-opened so she could organize events there. 

She may have to wait a bit longer. At a candidate debate in September, Porter said his priority would be fixing up the old City Hall, which was closed after inspectors found radon gas, mold and asbestos.

We spoke to Spanish-speaker Christina Morales at her evening English class in Homestead. She said she would open another kind of building.

"If I were mayor, I would add more schools, even if it were at night, because there are a lot of people who work in the country and they would want to learn English, and we really need it in Homestead," said Morales. 

Census data shows that about 60 percent of Homestead residents speak a language other than English at home, and about 27 percent of the city's population say they do not speak English "very well."

3. Tackling Traffic Through Transit

Homestead resident Hector Moctezuma said there are people living in the area who don't even have cars and need a way to get to work everyday.

"Maybe I put public transport for Krome Avenue," he said. "I think that our people, they need [public transportation]."

Recently, Homestead opened a free trolley system on Krome Avenue, but it's open only from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. This doesn't leave much time for workers who need it to open earlier and close later.

4. Health Safety

Tina Smith, retired teacher, wants engineering reports sent to all Homestead residents ensuring the safety of Mayor Roscoe Warren Municipal Park, which was built over a landfill.

According to the Miami Herald, "The town failed to submit [to the county] documentation of the remediation work and ignored follow-up requests by the agency for four years."

Here's Mayor Porter's response to some of your ideas: