Local transit workers union endorses candidates in local, state, federal races

AFSCME and AFL-CIO also provide their slates for Aug. 23 primary

The largest union in Miami-Dade, representing more than 2,100 transportation workers — Metrorail, MetroMover and MetroBus operators and support staff — announced Tuesday a bunch of local, state and federal endorsements for the Aug. 23 primary election.

Transport Workers Union Local 291 President Jeffrey Mitchell said the current housing and transportation crises we are facing make it especially vital to support candidates “who stand up for working families in Miami-Dade and who will protect their right to life, safety and equitable pay.

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“As the backbone of our local economy, we need representatives who will address the issues that are most impacting their quality of life and who will fight to create a community where they can live and thrive with dignity.”

The following is the complete list of endorsements, in alphabetical order:

  • Maribel Balbin in Miami-Dade County School Board, District 4
  • Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall in Miami-Dade County School Board, District 2
  • Chris Benjamin in Florida State House, District 107
  • JC Bermudez in Miami-Dade County Commission, District 12
  • Danielle Cohen Higgins in Miami-Dade County Commission, District 8
  • Karyn Cunningham for mayor in the Village of Pinecrest
  • AJ D’Amico in Florida State House, District 113
  • Val Demings in the U.S. Senate
  • Juan Fernandez Barquin in Florida State House, District 118
  • Dotie Joseph in Florida State House, District 108
  • Jordan Leonard in Florida State House, District 106
  • Janelle Perez in Florida State Senate, District 38
  • Dr. Marta Perez in Miami-Dade County School Board, District 8
  • Anthony Rodriguez in Miami-Dade County Commission, District 10
  • Maria Teresa Rojas in Miami-Dade County School Board, District 6
  • Annette Taddeo for U.S. Congress
  • Frederica Wilson for U.S. Congress

There were no endorsements in the county commission races in Districts 2 and 6 because those races will very likely be decided in runoffs in November, Mitchell said.

Martha Bueno, who is running to replace termed-out Javier Souto in District 10, said they never contacted her before endorsing Rodriguez. But Mitchell said she declined the screening by the AFL-CIO. These are their South Florida nods.

“We invited her to the process. She didn’t respond. So we decided to move on,” Mitchell said.

AFSCME has also made it’s recommendations:

Sheila Cherfilus U.S. House of Representatives 20
Lois Frankel  U.S. House of Representatives 21
Debbie Wasserman Shultz  U.S. House of Representatives 23
Frederica Wilson  U.S. House of Representatives 24
Annette Taddeo U.S. House of Representatives 27
Robert Asencio U.S. House of Representatives 28
Sen. Tina Polsky State Senate 30
Sen. Shevrin Jones State Senate 34
Sen. Lauren Book State Senate 35
Sen. Jason Pizzo State Senate 37
Janelle Perez State Senate 38
Rep. Bryan Avila State Senate 39
Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez State Senate 40
Clay Miller State Representatives 101
Jim Leonoard State Representatives 106
Andres Althabe State Representatives 113
Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall Miami-Dade School Board 2
Maribel Balbin Miami-Dade School Board 4
Maria Teresa “Mari Tere” Rojas Miami-Dade School Board 6
Marta Perez Miami-Dade School Board 8
Micky Steinberg Miami-Dade Commission 4
Kevin Cabrera Miami-Dade Commission 6
Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higgins Miami-Dade Commission 8
Rep. Anthony Rodriguez Miami-Dade Commission 10
Juan Carlos “JC” Bermudez Miami-Dade Commission 12
Commissioner Mark David Bogen Broward Commission 2
Commissioner Lamar Fisher Broward Commission 4
Commissioner Beam Furr Broward Commission 6
Robert McKenzie Broward Commission 8
Hazelle Rogers Broward Commission 9
Judge Lody Jean Circuit Judge 3
Judge Robert Watson Circuit Judge 20
Judge Mark Blumstein Circuit Judge 34
Judge Oscar Rodriguez – Fonts Circuit Judge 52
Judge Fred Seraphin Miami-Dade County Judge 5
Judge Jeffrey Kolokoff Miami-Dade County Judge 19
Judge Scott Janowitz Miami-Dade County Judge 42

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Some of those candidates have received contributions from Limousines of South Florida (LSF), a private transportation provider that has come under fire for substandard service, and getting no-bid contracts with the county to provide transit services, slowly privatizing county buses.. They also provide trolley and other shuttle service in most municipalities.

LSF owners Raymond and Rene Gonzalez, who have dozens of Florida corporations and bundle their donations, have given about $700,000 in total to county, school board and city of Miami and city of Coral Gables candidates in the last 11 years.

“It’s hard to find any [candidate] who hasn’t,” Mitchell said, “but they know we’re not fans of LSF. We will first try to work with them, try to conduct a cleansing.” It’s no secret that the TWU wants the routes driven by LSF back in county employee command.

“It’s our goal to rid the county of pay-to-play transit. At this point, it’s now the very same tax dollars flowing back by donation,” Mitchell told Ladra. “If you don’t engage them, question them and task them, they will do bad things.”