Miami Beach’s First Millennial Candidate Jon Welsh wants to cultivate innovation and build many bridges between Miami Beach and Little Havana
I will begin by saying that Jon Welsh is one of the best entrepreneurs and most inspiring people I know. Back when my stepfather passed away, I had to figure out a lot with respect to our family business which is the newspaper you hold in your hands today. Figuring out in which direction to take it was an intimidating and overwhelming task. I was faced with fear and uncertainty but most of all I was scared to do the unfamiliar. If you are a small business owner facing digital challenges, then you know the feeling. Thanks to Jonathan Welsh whom motivated, inspired, and believed in me we have CalleOchoNews.com today.
I can’t say how proud I am to see Jon Welsh whom has supported the Calle Ocho News publication for over 6 years running for Miami Beach Commissioner. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jonathan and here is what he had to say. I firmly believe that he will be the next Eileen Higgins of Miami Beach and here is why.
What made you want to run for Miami Beach Commissioner?
The time is now to set the stage for a new narrative for Miami Beach. When I bicycle to my office in the morning throughout the city’s neighborhood streets and alleyways every day and night, I see potential. I see opportunities for innovation and opportunities for improvement. I am an advocate for economic opportunity, individual liberty, innovation, and entrepreneurial-ism. As one that has for many years studied, lived, and worked alongside residents and visitors that have escaped oppression – I started the process of thinking about a run for Miami Beach Commissioner when the incumbent advocated the opening of a Cuban Consulate in Miami Beach. Empowering or advocating for the Castro regime goes against my core values. Cuba continues to violate norms and not be held accountable for its continued discrimination, abuse and repression against 11 million Cubans. I will always oppose a Cuban Consulate in Miami Beach - so long as the Cuban government continues its violation of basic freedoms and human rights. It has already been demonstrated that the Embassy and Consulate in Washington DC does not serve Cubans or represent them but rather the Castro dictatorship.
I asked Jon Welsh what are some of the biggest problems Miami Beach is facing and how do you plan to address them?
The ideas that can be implemented in Miami Beach are the same as the ideas that can benefit Coral Gables, Little Havana, and many others. Traffic is always a big problem for residents, but the City has made worthy strides by increasingly mobility with the trolleys. I would like to see more dedicated bike lanes to support eco-friendly mobility and to further support bike rentals as well as to decrease traffic. It’s time to further commit to transportation transformation and further embrace exciting opportunities to make transit better. When cities invest in building safe spaces, autonomous mobility options work. In addition, I emphatically support the idea of a public/private partnership to bring the monorail project that links with downtown Miami, Virgin Trains, Brightline, and the Miami International Airport. This helps all residents – not just those in Miami Beach – but those in Little Havana, Liberty City, and the Design District. It is an opportunity to truly bring the next generation of travel. Poor connectivity to the rest of South Florida translates to poor connectivity to the world. Increased ease of transportation to support businesses and tourism will create new economic opportunities.
Increasing rents is a big issue of concern and the best way to approach this is to support entrepreneurs to be economically successful. I want to steer people away from empty apartment listings for short-term rentals as a model to pay rent. My focus is to create new jobs, and work with the economic development organizations like the Knight Foundation and Endeavor Miami.
Street flooding is an extremely important issue to residents. Nobody will want to take out a 30-year mortgage or raise a family on properties that might be underwater in a few decades. Financial assets on the waterfront are increasing and their vulnerability to flooding is increasing too. Our city's first response was successful for issuing short-term solutions of raising sidewalks. The long-term solution is to help property owners raise their properties and build on the initial efforts that bring international experts, city planners, architects, and entrepreneurs to work together to provide solutions. A good plan to address it comes out of facts and understanding opportunities, vulnerabilities, our culture, and ecology. A deep dive will continue to give the city the opportunity to come up with a long-term plan just like in the Netherlands.
Tell us a little about your background and history in Miami Beach.
I Jon Welsh have served locally and internationally as a community organizer and leader. I received my bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami in Political Science and Public Relations and was a member of the University’s row club. As program leader with the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranches (a not-for-profit family services organization that offers camping services and community-based clinical and family facilities), I implemented summer programs throughout the state of Florida and worked in collaboration with neighborhood resources including parents, churches and other organizations in order to build trust between them and law enforcement. After receiving my degree, I served with the United States Peace Corps, and strengthened links between government and other volunteer programs as well as planned and implemented health and wellness community programs in South Africa to address the needs of under served youth. Upon returning to Miami Beach, I led many initiatives with the Alpha-1 Association, a not-for-profit health advocacy membership organization building a patient advocacy program that mobilized and engaged volunteers in advocacy activities at the state and Federal level. I expanded my community impact by joining the team at Care Resource Community Health Centers, Inc., a Federally Qualified Health Center that provides health and support services to South Florida, where I play an integral communications role and have become a key community ambassador for reviving and expanding the impact of AIDS Walk Miami and The White Party. I currently serve on the City of Miami Beach’s Human Rights Committee and have served on the City of Miami Beach’s Anti-Bullying Task Force. I have been a president of the Miracle Mile Toastmasters Club, a speaker, contributing author and member of Florida Society of Association Executives (FSAE), production captain during the Boca Raton Wine and Food Festival, member of the Bass Museum, member of the Environmental Coalition of Miami & the Beaches (ECOMB) and member of the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (MDGLCC).
What makes you different from other candidates?
As a Millennial, I represent a new generation. I appreciate the value of entrepreneurial motivation and I make efforts to remain socially aware and socially motivated and I also detest stagnation. I am also not focused on left-vs-right agendas. I have grown up in a globalized and mobilized world and have lived and continue to live in neighborhoods where different ethnic groups reside. I believe in having a diverse perspective and a high level of tolerance towards differences. I am focused on continuous learning and I don’t like to limit myself locked in a way of working or a possibility to make things work. I am curious to learn and to develop. With this mindset, I tend to learn fast and a lot. For more information, visit www.VoteJonWelsh.com.
Rosi R. Rodriguez
Editor in Chief