February's DMO of the Month Takes Charge
Municipal Democrats sometimes have to contend with out-of-touch state government. Such legislative bodies use preemptive laws to bar progress, and accept the status quo by refusing to act on critical issues. In spite of these impediments, local Democrats get moving and forge the path forward. Our DMO of the Month for February takes action to represent his constituents, even when wider officials won’t. Meet Philip Levine, Mayor of Miami Beach, Florida.
Mayor Levine has made a point of leading on equality. In a state whose officials fought against the Federal ruling that opened the way to gay marriage, Miami Beach makes sure that its employees and contracted workers enjoy full benefits regardless of orientation. They are also one of the first cities in the US to provide inclusive care for trans* employees through health insurance. Thanks to Mayor Levine, the city of Miami Beach filed an amicus brief for every Florida lawsuit challenging the state’s denial of equal marriage rights to LGBT citizens. These efforts have garnered the city a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. Mayor Levine believes that government should provide for the health and wellness of all citizens.
With the Governor and Republican Senator of Florida both refusing to acknowledge the reality of human-influenced climate change, Mayor Levine is tasked with finding his own solutions to the increasingly extreme weather bearing down on his city. One such challenge is the seasonal flooding that has worsened in recent years as sea levels rise. The mayor’s plan to counter flooding features a system of pumps that will continually push water back into the ocean. These pumps have already kept streets dry during the “King Tide”, an annual event when floods have traditionally been the highest. The new pumping system is more efficient and cleaner than the previous infrastructure, and is built to make it easier to install future upgrades. With 60 additional pumps scheduled to be placed in the next 5 years, Philip Levine prepares his city to handle more flooding as we continue to see the effects of climate change. The real danger presented by rising sea levels isn’t part of a political scorecard for Levine. His focus is protecting Miami Beach residents from the damage caused by powerful floods and storms.
People expect practical solutions from their city government. While wider legislative bodies can get away with ideology and bluster, municipal leaders take action and produce results. Phillip Levine cares about the citizens of Miami Beach, and won’t allow entrenchment at the state level to prevent the progress they deserve. Acting on LGBT rights and climate change, Mayor Levine stands up for the needs of Miami Beach. The willingness to move forward while others drag their feet is a quality that Mayor Levine exemplifies as a Democratic Municipal Official, making him our DMO of the Month for February.
Philip Levine graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science. The founder of Onboard Media, he would later merge his business with Berkshire Partners and Starboard Cruise Services. Philip Levine now serves as CEO of Royal Media Partners. In addition to his work as mayor, he participates on the board of Best Buddies International, a nonprofit dedicated to providing opportunities for those with developmental disabilities. Mayor Levine was selected by Commerce Secretary Locke to lend his insight to the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, a national task force that advises the US government on tourism.