— Submitted by Steve Showen
Miami Green, and Co-Chair of the Green Party of Florida
January 31, 2014
Residents of South Miami are fighting to maintain the small town character of their fair city of some 12,000 residents nestled between Pinecrest and Coral Gables. The largely residential, racially-mixed city is under heavy pressure from developers who would threaten its family-friendly character. A leading champion for the city has been FIU Professor Philip Stoddard, who is running for his third two-year term as Mayor of South Miami.
The election between Stoddard, Valerie Newman and Rodney Williams is scheduled for February 11 (early voting begins February 8). Although the race is nonpartisan and Stoddard is not a registered Green, he has earned the support of local Greens, who have also worked on his two previous mayoral campaigns. As Steve Showen, a Miami Green, and Co-Chair of the Green Party of Florida (GPFL), explained, “We’re backing Phil Stoddard because he’s not just a politician who gives lip service to an issue to get people’s votes. He’s someone who has put himself on the line time after time, and that sets him head and shoulders above the rest.”
The track record that Showen referenced began a few years ago when Stoddard and other local residents, including Greens, co-founded Citizens Allied for Safe Energy (CASE) in 2009 in response to plans by Florida Power and Light (FPL) to build two new nuclear power plants at Turkey Point, some 20 miles south of the city. FPL wanted to run high voltage power lines right up US Highway 1, the central artery through a half dozen cities, including Pinecrest, South Miami, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, and the city of Miami proper. CASE organized a town hall meeting featuring expert testimony to educate the community about the repercussions of FPL’s plans: massive cooling water requirements, disruption of two nearby national parks, salt water backing up into the aquifer, and the lack of sufficient emergency evacuation plans. There were also the risks of impending sea level rise, and the inevitable build-up of nuclear waste. Stoddard himself researched and presented the harmful effects of living in proximity to the proposed power lines.
Adding insult to injury, the rate payers would be on the hook for the cost of the unpopular new plants. As a GPFL press release explained last August, “The Nuclear Cost Recovery Act gives Florida’s Public Service Commission the power to allow utilities to charge their customers ahead of time for preparing for and building nuclear power plants … should the plants not be built, the utility does not have to return the money!” Instead of more nukes, both CASE and the Green Party support a decentralized and democratized energy production regime, using a mix of safe and clean renewable sources.
In the wake of Stoddard’s powerful stand, community residents insisted that Stoddard run for mayor against candidates supporting both FPL’s plans and those of corporate developers. Long story short: Stoddard ran and won, inheriting a mess of tangles including corruption, lawsuits, and an unstable budget. He has managed to resolve a number of problems left by his predecessors, ranging from reducing lawsuits and stabilizing the city budget, to putting pension funds on a sound footing. He has rooted out cronyism in the Police Department, gained official accreditation from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, facilitated securing grants to build a long-promised swimming pool in a low income neighborhood, changed the zoning to prevent multi-story development next to single family homes, and prevented a massive charter high school from going in opposite Ludlam Elementary which would have completely snarled traffic.
Overall, Stoddard has used his “bully pulpit” to reach broader audiences about the myriad concerns over FPL’s nuclear power ambitions, as well as other environmental concerns. He has organized other mayors along the US Highway 1 corridor. Stoddard was quoted at length last June in a startling feature article in Rolling Stone magazine about Miami being ground zero for sea level rise.
Building on that impressive record, in his current campaign Stoddard pledges to:
- support safe streets and calm traffic.
- push for lower taxes and to keep city spending responsible.
- work for neighborhood safety
- hold the line against over-development
- keep government honest
… and continue to fight tirelessly for the people of South Miami.
To donate to Stoddard’s campaign or to volunteer, please visit his website. You can reach him at:
Please note: Under Florida public records law, email exchanged with public officials is subject to disclosure to the public and media upon request.