Miami was one of 9 locations to host a rally. On a sunny Saturday morning in beautiful South Miami, over 70 people from all corners of southeast Florida, gathered to ask the Tallahassee leadership to finish the job and honor the Constitutional Amendment passed by 4.2 million voters.
Rally speakers included South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, representatives from Miami-Dade County Commissioners Rebeca Sosa and Daniella Levine Cava, and Audubon Florida’s Everglades Policy Associate Celeste De Palma. Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez sent a statement of support to be shared with rally attendees.
Mayor Stoddard opened the rally by calling for the Florida Legislature to honor the voters and focus on funding Florida Forever, funding Everglades restoration and acquiring land south of Lake Okeechobee, as well as protecting our Springs. A statement from Commissioner Sosa commended all who gathered that day “to present a united front towards calling upon the state to finish the job,” as she stated the importance of the Everglades to all of Florida, and to Dade County in particular. Commissioner Suarez’s statement echoed Sosa’s words and added that “Miami-Dade is ground zero for sea level rise in Florida. Acquiring the land and building the capacity to send water south from Lake Okeechobee is our best defense against saltwater intrusion.”
To make it even more clear that Miami-Dade County is a strong ally in advancing Everglades restoration, a representative for Commissioner Levine Cava shared the exciting news that a resolution sponsored by the Commissioner urging Legislators to allocate $150 million from Amendment 1 to Everglades restoration, as well as $500 million dollars to buy land south of Lake Okeechobee, would be coming up for a vote at the June 2 Board of County Commissioners meeting. That resolution was voted on and passed by the Board of County Commissioners, lending further support to the Water & Land Coalition’s efforts.
However, despite the evident local support from elected leaders, rally attendees were frustrated with the Legislature’s inaction. South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard was quick to add that “it is never too late to change the minds of elected officials. As our voices get louder, they pay attention,” and before closing the rally, Everglades Policy Associate Celeste De Palma reminded rally attendees that people do have the power to make change happen in their communities, “if you believe you have no influence in Tallahassee, let me remind you that we the People just changed the Florida Constitution!”
Indeed, 4.2 million voters believed investing in conservation lands was the right thing to do. It is clear that our job isn’t done, and it will take continued pressure from the people to get our Legislators to honor the Constitution and fund water and conservation lands.
We did it once, and we can do it again. You have the power to make it happen. If you haven’t yet contacted your legislator about the importance of honoring the intent of Amendment 1, you can do so now. Then contact Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner & House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and ask them to finish the job we sent them to Tallahassee to do.