One of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s first orders of business at his State of the City Address on Tuesday was to call out the city's first responders who are dealing head on with the pandemic.
“Over the past year, Chief Joe Zahralban along with (Assistant) Fire Chief Robert Hevia, have ably transformed Miami Fire Rescue into the front line fighters of COVID-19 with mobile testing units and rapid rollout of testing and vaccinations,” said Suarez.
Before looking toward the future, the mayor noted the past.
“We have been tested, we have adopted and we have overcome,” he said. “I stand before you as your first Miami-born Mayor, leading our city through a global pandemic, quelling civil unrest and absorbing a new flood of residents fleeing a failed economic ideology.”
Suarez spoke in a Little Havana neighborhood to a small gathering of city staffers, elected officials and other dignitaries.He took the opportunity to announce new initiatives and reforms, like establishing a Chief Wellness Officer who will promote health and fitness.
A Business Relocation Task Force will work on at attracting more business to the city while he also touted a Park Expansion Task Force, which will look at modernizing Miami’s park system.
“The types of parks located in Coconut Grove, Shenandoah and Edgewater should be available to the residents of Allapattah, Little Havana and Overtown,” said Suarez.
The mayor noted the city’s efforts to help people through the financial hardship of the pandemic.
“I am proud to announce that we have received an additional $14 million in rental assistance funding from the federal government,” he said, adding those dollars will be disbursed to Miami residents as soon as possible.
Suarez also touted the city’s efforts to bolster the technology sector, attract high-paying jobs and create more affordable housing. He emphasized how the environment and dealing with climate change remain top priorities.
One project noted specifically were the efforts to protect Miami’s Biscayne Bay from pollution and toxic discharges.
“The choice is no longer the environment versus the economy, the environment is the economy,” said Suarez.