Climate Change and Sea Level Rise
Tackling the existential challenge that sea level rise poses to South Florida should be the top priority for any member of Congress elected from this region. Ken Russell understands that and will work tirelessly to create consensus around the issue, demanding real and sustainable solutions to the many problems caused by rising seas and climate change.
As he has done in his job as city commissioner, Ken will focus on promoting a resilient South Florida as a long-term goal, a region and state that is set to bounce back from environmental adversity in ways that don’t disrupt the health, wealth and quality of life of the residents here. Additionally, Ken wants to make sure those in power are not only talking about infrastructure in regards to rising seas, but also about climate justice: how the effects of climate change and sea level rise will affect our socioeconomically disadvantaged communities first.
Commissioner Russell believes it is crucial that climate change be discussed in a way that’s realistic, and as such, will use his bully pulpit in Congress to push back against the “War on Science” within the federal executive, an unfortunate trend that has seen unqualified climate change skeptics promoted to important positions dealing with science policy and oversight.
A Fair Wage
As a commissioner, Ken has successfully pushed every agency over which he has direct influence to pay employees and contractors a minimum wage of $15 per hour. The results have been life-changing for many public sector employees touched by those new mandates. Commissioner Russell has also advocated against Florida laws that prevent the municipal officials from setting a citywide minimum wage at that level.
The South Florida region is one of the most unaffordable in the nation for working families. The rent is simply too high.
Unfortunately, our federal government has been negligent now for decades in prioritizing housing affordability. There are conservative ideas dealing with tax cuts and elimination of certain regulations that would promote housing affordability. There are liberal ideas that would reshape public housing and create millions of new units nationwide. The problem is not the lack of ideas, but the absolute lack of focus from both the left and right on this issue.
As a city commissioner, Ken has worked through various channels and financing mechanisms to create and maintain affordable housing. He has also worked on high-profile initiatives to tackle homelessness.
From City Hall, Ken has been the city of Miami’s foremost environmental champion, moving the ball forward on priorities large and small: banning Styrofoam from public parks and beaches, protecting and expanding the urban canopy, and being a strong supporter of marine and shoreline cleanup efforts, among other actions.
In Congress, Ken will take the fight to protect and conserve our fragile environment to the top. In particular, the commissioner is strongly supportive and will be a credible and significant advocate for Everglades restoration efforts throughout the state of Florida.
Ken Russell believes that, not only should the South Florida region be a “sanctuary city”, but that the entire country should be a sanctuary to those who come here to work hard and contribute to our society. The son of a first-generation Japanese immigrant, Ken understands the racial animus that lies behind many immigration debates and how to manage those conversations regardless.
Commissioner Russell vehemently disagrees with the policy decisions of the Trump administration as they relate to immigration. In Congress, he will work to help immigrants here who are tax-paying, productive members of our society find a path to citizenship. He believes it is wrong to kick out the many “Dreamers” who came out of the shadows due to President Obama’s presidential order. Allowing them a path to full participation in our society, fixing the injustice that threatens them otherwise, will be on of Ken’s first asks in Congress.
It is dangerous to democracy, and just plain wrong, to have an economy that benefits only those at the very top. It should be a priority for any elected official to help create good-paying, sustainable jobs.
As a city commissioner, Ken has been able to conceptualize and execute projects that have turned blighted areas into engines of economic growth. Following his initiative, a pop-up park was built at minimum expense over the course of just a few weeks that turned a seven-acre area of Miami’s urban core into a beautiful green space, provided jobs and economic opportunity to the low-income community there, and helped revitalize the neighborhood economically.
Donald Trump’s rhetoric has brought to the forefront some of the worst impulses in American society. Unimaginable just a few years ago, neo-Nazis are now proudly parading and openly assaulting people in the streets of our towns and cities. We must regain the America we grew up in, where acceptance was not a flaw, and tolerance was promoted, not ridiculed.
Ken has worked to defend the dignity of all Miami communities during his time in public office and before, and is keenly aware of the policies that target and most hurt people of color, women, LGBT Americans, and the disabled.
Ken will continue the battles he has taken and won at city hall to promote gender equality, and treat everyone equally regardless of who they love, or worship or what they look like. For example, the commissioner would like to see policies he’s been able to successfully champion at the local level – regarding equal pay for women, the banning of anti-gay “conversion therapy” and criminal justice reform – executed at the federal level.