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Black Florida mayor brings presidential campaign to Watts

WATTS — Democratic presidential candidate Wayne Messam visited Watts April 12, touring the area, meeting with community leaders and discussing issues such as gun violence and education.

Messam, the mayor of Miramar, Florida, also spoke with members of the Black Los Angeles Young Democrats at the headquarters of the African American Voter Registration, Education, and Participation project in Baldwin Village.

Messam began his first visit to California since declaring his candidacy by speaking to the USC College Democrats April 11, discussing his plan to resolve the student debt crisis and climate change, according to Angelica Urquijo, his campaign’s western region senior adviser.

Messam has called for the federal government to cancel all federal and private student loans. He supports encouraging entrepreneurship training at the high school and college level to prepare students for future unexpected periods of unemployment.

Messam said if elected, his administration would “make it a priority to lead the world and take bold, direct, climate action that will rival the New Deal in scope, rise to the scale of this challenge and apply the urgency required to get the job done in 10 years.”

Messam announced his candidacy March 28, with a two-minute, six-second video recounting growing up as the son of Jamaican immigrants in an area of South Florida known as “The Muck” due to the large quantity of muck, in which sugarcane grows, then going on to play football at Florida State and starting a construction company.

“The problem in America as I see it is that we are not addressing these high-stake problems that we must deal with today,” Messam said on the video. “When you have a senior citizen who can’t afford her prescription medicine, Washington is broken.

“When our scientists are telling us if we don’t make drastic changes today, the quality of air will be in peril, Washington is broken. Every day, people are graduating from universities with crippling debt, stifling their opportunity for financial mobility, that’s what broken with this country.”

Messam also supports changing the health care system “from the top down and drive down costs for patients, including giving the government more authority to negotiate prescription prices for seniors.”

Messam began his political career in 2011 by being elected to the city commission in Miramar, a city in Southeast Florida near Fort Lauderdale with a population of 140,328, according to 2017 Census Bureau figures. Miramar is smaller than Pasadena (142,647), but larger than South Bend, Indiana (102,245), whose mayor, Pete Buttigieg, has announced his candidacy.

Messam was elected mayor in 2015, defeating Lori Cohen Moseley who had held the post since 1999, and re-elected last month. He was the 2018 president of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials.

As mayor, Messam has prioritized bringing jobs to the city. He puts leading the effort against oil drilling in the nearby Big Cypress National Preserve and proposing making “our city as a safe zone” for immigrants as among his top accomplishments.

Wave Wire Services