Civic Engagement and Community Involvement

Meet Mayoral Candidates: Neighbors and Visionaries

This event is hosted by GoVoteMiami, an organization focused on voter and community engagement. It is our experience that effective ways to make voting relevant and topics relatable almost always involves personal experiences and face-to-face interactions. It requires that a piece of information, a fact, or an experience touch something in us or in our lives that makes it important enough to act.


GoVoteMiami Mayoral Candidate Forum

Several well moderated debates on critical KB topics have been held already. All of them provided excellent insights into the issues we face:

From resiliency and sea-level rise in particular, the Rickenbacker Causeway issues of Plan Z, the Bear-cut bridge, cyclists and safety, the proposed homeless encampment, undergrounding, negative campaigning, taxes, the budget, our schools and more  –  all been discussed in depth.

Tonight’s event is hosted by GoVoteMiami, an organization strongly focused on voter and community engagement.

Good evening… My name is Christina Bracken and the founder of GoVoteMiami. Jackie Kellogg and I we thought up tonight’s event to bring a slightly different set of questions to our mayoral candidates.

It is our experience that effective ways to make voting relevant and topics relatable almost always involves personal experiences and face-to-face interactions. It requires that a piece of information, a fact, or an experience touches something in us or in our lives that makes it important enough to act.

Tonight we want to explore the ways, methods and technologies we can employ to connect the already discussed topics, with specific actions and activities that makes them personally relevant to Key Biscayne residents of all ages and backgrounds.

We like to explore some unconventional ideas, and fresh perspectives on existing challenges to bring new energy to the conversation between our elected officials and the residents they serve.

We chose to introduce 3 segments and invite persons with different backgrounds to moderate. We invited the input of young and engaged resident teens. Students are an important demographic GoVoteMiami interacts with as they become new voters.

We see in them our future leaders, the next generation of public officials and the policy makers of tomorrow. We believe that the way we lead today, what we teach through our actions, shapes them and through them – all of our futures.

Each Segment will be introduced by a different moderator.


Surrounded by Water

Advocating for fishable, swimmable, drinkable water through actions, policy and partnerships.

Moderated by Audrey Siu

Introduction: Miami Waterkeeper is a non-profit that defends your right to fishable, swimmable, drinkable water. Their work encompasses education and outreach; scientific research; and legislative advocacy on behalf of the aquatic environment and the people that enjoy it. Audrey Siu is Miami Waterkeeper’s Environmental Policy Specialist and works on the advocacy team where she researches policy issues.

Please welcome Audrey Siu

STATEMENT 1: Key Biscayne is at the forefront of sea level rise and will increasingly experience the effects of climate change. Many layers of environmental regulations are already in place, but regulations are just words on paper if there is no stakeholder buy-in and meaningful reinforcement. From restrictions on the use of fertilizers to watering lawns and the enforcement of homes connecting to the sewer system – the Future of Water is in more than one way a Key issue for the Key Biscayne community. Some threats can be addressed with infrastructure projects, others require a change in behavior or  the ways we do things on a more personal level.

Question: For Candidate A – you have 1 minute.

As mayor what can you do to help motivate community members to learn and care about environmental regulations and more actively and daily participate in improving the health of the local water environment?

Question: For Candidate B  – you have 1 minute.

On our island we have swimmers, water sports enthusiasts, young families enjoying the beach, people who love to fish and boating, pool lovers, gardeners, – and all rely on water. What technologies or methods can the village employ to make information on water quality and conservation more accessible and interactive?

Question: For Candidate C –  you have 1 minute.

Statement:  Government can not (and maybe should not) do the job alone… offering a sense of control over an issue is often the key to create resident buy-in.

Miami Waterkeepers offers an ambassador program to encourage people to report pollution, illegal dumping, fish kills, but also endangered species.

Question: What could the village do to support efforts to create more and stronger collaborations with organizations to entice residents to use already existing resources and tools like the Miami Waterkeepers program to participate in protecting our local water quality?

compellation of photos from GoVoteMiami Event Community at its Best – Mayoral Candidate Forum involves students and neighbors.

Island Environment

Meaningful and practical solutions to live green, sustainable lives.

Introduction: Enzo Fouquet and Jonathan Mendez have both lived on KB for many years.  Enzo is a rising senior at MAST and will be president of MAST’s Environmental Awareness club. He is also involved in several other clubs focused on energy conservation and the environment.

Jonathan just graduated from MAST and starts college at Notre Dame in just a few days. He spent his summer working on a Notre Dame Community Service project with the Center of Social Concerns before school even started.

Both have been volunteering for A Zero Waste Culture since 2019 and 2020 respectively and grown into leadership roles managing and guiding new volunteers.

Please welcome our two moderators.

(Will provide water to candidates)

Aitana Rodriguez Suarez is 13 years old, a KB resident and also a student at MAST.

STATEMENT: Energy bills are expected to increase 21% this year and it is the 2nd largest expenditure after teachers’ salaries for the Miami-Dade school district. KB students have expressed that the way a school is run has as much impact on them as the teaching their receive. They presented their suggestions to the school board under the title “Clean Energy by 2030” Task force Greatest Hits “. It includes installing solar panels, purchase electric busses and other energy conservation measures – including substantiated funding that would pay to implement these measures.

This topic came up during the debate on Tuesday. You were asked if you would support these efforts. Today we are looking at the topic from the perspective of the students who have passionately worked on the project, but also rely on their schools as vehicles to stand out, gain the attention of university admissions officers and as springboard for future opportunities.

Question  – every candidate will answer: this is a 2 part question.

Part 1: Under your mentorship as mayor, what can the VKB do to create the needed relationships to support green measures that demonstrate to our students that their future is a priority?

Part 2:  As mayor what could be your strategy to make the top 3 greening projects the task force outlines a reality?

STATEMENT: Reducing food waste is one of the top 5 most effective solutions to combat climate change. Composting and Beach Clean Ups are 2 examples of very relatable topics young people on KB have embraced to show that what they do and teach others, makes a difference.

Question: Under your leadership as mayor, how could you strengthen projects that teach residents of all ages that local involvement has a multi-layer impact and is worth exploring and supporting.

Community Culture and Safety.

Introduction: Martha Schoolman is a professor at FIU with a PhD in English. She teaches American Literature and Literary Environmentalism.

Please welcome Martha Schoolman!

Community Culture and Safety

Technology, fresh perspectives, and multidimensional communication to boost the one-village vision.

STATEMENT: Many great things are going on on Key Biscayne and many positive things are being accomplished.

Making sure that residents know about what happens in their community means to understand how people of different ages, languages and backgrounds consume and accept information.

Question  – every candidate will answer:

As mayor what would you do to communicate good news as one of the best vehicles to invite engagement and inspire the sense of pride that comes from knowing we are surrounded by competent, hard working and well meaning individuals working on our behalf?


Key Biscayne is a melting pot of cultures and resident profiles. Blending such a diverse group’s need for inclusiveness, transparency, safety, communication and cultural sensitivities is no easy task. Currently the Village of Key Biscayne employs about 130 full and part time employees; 38 of them are police officers. We are one of the safest municipalities in Florida and a flourishing community. Living in a place that exudes an atmosphere of welcome and safety is key to feeling at home.

Question  – every candidate will answer:

What are some out-of-the-box approaches you are aware of, or learned that other communities have successfully incorporated, to boost approachability of both police and government, especially to teenagers, young families and seniors.


Key Biscayne is a modern and wealthy community. We should be at the forefront of technology and innovation in our approaches to solve problems but also in offering opportunities.

Question  – every candidate will answer:

In your opinion is the Village of Key Biscayne doing enough to show residents how new technologies are applied to learn, to solve problems and to create a sense of community?


Volunteerism is an intricate part of our island culture. Our village charter stipulates our elected officials serve without compensation. Many of the village’s task forces and projects on the island are run by volunteers who selflessly offer their skills, expertise and considerable time to improve the community around them.

Question  – every candidate will answer:

Please share with us a bit about your own volunteer experience and point out the one you are most proud of.

Question  – every candidate will answer:

All three of you are running for mayor because you feel passionate about your community. All three of you feel your skills are critical to Key Biscayne’s future.

How would you lend our substantial talents and energy to support Key Biscayne going forward in case you do not win this election?

Question  – every candidate will answer:

All three of you have now shaken hundreds if not thousands of hands, and been to many meet & greets and debates. What have you learned about yourself and your community that you might have not been aware of before you started your campaign?


I’d like to thank all 3 candidates for their participation today. It is a great opportunity to engage with the people whose job it will be to represent us all after the election.

And a big thank you to you all, our wonderful audience – without you this would be a very different event. Your presence made this a very rewarding evening. Please feel free to speak and engage with the candidates and the volunteers who helped facilitate tonights forum and who are all amazing young activists in their own right.

There are a few VIPs in the room I must acknowledge. Their commitment and contributions made tonight’s event possible and successful.

Jackie Kellogg – who is a wonderful friend and has been the initial spark of inspiration for this evening. She has worked tirelessly with me starting from securing the right location to defining the format of the event. She designed the invitations and helped formatting questions.

Teri, our videographer who jumped through all kinds of hoops to make sure that we are able to record this meeting and share it with others who couldn’t be here tonight.

Justo Rey, who helped us reach a wide audience by announcing the event in the Islander News.

Carolyn Koslen, who helped share the info on social media.

Eli Zang, who offered her talent and time and did a such a great job as time keeper.

Enzo Fouquet and Jonathan Mendez, the 2 A Zero Waste Culture volunteers who have both inspired me with their enthusiasm, their commitment and their positive outlook. Thank you for being such fabulous examples of what leadership can look like.

Thank you to Aitana Rodriguez Suarez for ensuring that every candidate had water available in a reusable cup.

Audrey Siu and Martha Schoolman, who gave us valuable insights and helped us formulate the questions. Both took the time to come to Key Biscayne for this event.

Todd Hofferberth, Kathrin Labrada and everyone on the Village Team, who helped us secure and set up the room. Thank you for your support.

And as always –  a thank you to my husband Michael, who always supports what I do.

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