Updated: Nov 8, 2020
1. In less than a minute, tell us who you are and why we keep hearing good things about you.
I am an attorney and a professional policy wonk. I also host an eclectic music program called The Sunday Time Warp every week on WDNA 88.9 FM.
I have been involved in many different advocacy projects and initiatives over the last decade, but most recently you may have come across one of my very detailed voter guides, which I started publishing as part of my Substack newsletter called Civic Culture. The purpose of my guides is not only to provide my recommendations but to also provide some background and context for every section of your ballot, so that you walk away with more civics knowledge than you had before you read it.
2. What were the pivotal roadblocks and challenges you encountered along the way that helped you define your path? I have experienced my share of challenges, but two pivotal ones come to mind. First was Hurricane Katrina in 2005. At the time, I was a college student in New Orleans. Though I managed to evacuate safely, I remember watching our government's failed response unfold on TV in horror. It was the first time that racial and socioeconomic inequality really felt visceral to me. That event also ultimately caused me to move back to my hometown of Miami and inspired me to get more involved there as an adult. The other major roadblock that comes to mind was nearly a decade later, in 2013, when, in my final year of law school, I was selected as a finalist but was ultimately rejected for a prestigious postgraduate legal fellowship. Not getting that fellowship turned out to be a blessing because it led me to pursue a totally different career path that is much more aligned with my true interests. Two years after being rejected for that fellowship, my involvement in the community led me to take a position working for an elected official and set me on the path I'm on today.
3. Why did you choose this field? Who were your role models? And what pushed you to learn and become who you are? In 2015 I got involved in a local election for my district's next city commissioner. During that campaign, I met a young dark horse candidate named Ken Russell who was running as an underdog in a longshot race. Ken got involved in politics because he learned that a city park across the street from his home was contaminated with toxic ash from an old municipal incinerator. His victory in that election was a surprise to many observers of local elections, but it also demonstrated that with the right strategy, a lot of hard work, and some luck, it is possible to mobilize voters in local races without a huge fundraising operation. Shortly after the race, Ken tapped me to work as his policy advisor. I worked at Miami City Hall for three years and would not trade that experience for anything. One of my role models is Michelle Obama, a fellow lawyer who also worked in local government. In her memoir, Becoming, she talks at length about working for the mayor of Chicago. I found that inspiring. 4. What is your legacy? Do you care about leaving a legacy?
Public service is a calling, and I hope to leave this place just a little bit better than when I found it. 5. What can we all do right now to make this world a better place?
Democracy only works if people participate—and that does not just mean voting every few years. It is your responsibility to stay informed. Take it upon yourself to learn who your local, state, and federal elected officials are. Subscribe to your local newspaper, support local media, read about local issues, show up to local meetings, and communicate with your local officials. Many people are understandably fixated on the presidential race this year, but it is really local government that most impacts your day-to-day life.
6. In less than a minute, without sounding like a used car salesperson, tell us where to find you and what is the next big thing that everyone should be anticipating from you.
You can read my ballot guide and keep up with my other ongoing personal research projects by subscribing to my newsletter at http://civicculture.substack.com. I have a couple of projects in the works about school segregation in Miami and about virtual participation in public meetings once election season is over.
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