Miami-Dade County Commissioner Raquel Regalado said she has no plans on tossing her hat into the mayor’s race and unveiled plans to refurbish Crandon Park Golf Course on the latest episode of the Anti-Social podcast.
The District 7 commissioner, who represents Key Biscayne, also addressed critics upset over the chopping down of Australian Pines on the northside of the Rickenbacker Causeway. She also talked at length on employing the neurodivergent during the celebration of Disability Employment Month.
The podcast also marked the return of former host Thom Mozloom.
Regalado said she has no plans as a Republican to try to take on incumbent Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. It wouldn’t be her first go at the job, losing in 2016 to Carlos A Giménez when she was a Miami-Dade County School Board member.
“I am running for reelection in District 7. I want to be your Commissioner for four more years,” Regalado said.
Some Key Biscayne residents were upset in social media chats when the county leveled about 160 Australian Pines and turned them into munch, but Regalado said that it was a necessary step in the renovation of Hobie Island Beach Park.
“Let’s talk about the tree homicide, as it has been lovingly referred to by lovely Key Biscayne residents,” Regalado said. “So yes, some trees were lost in the making of the show but none of them were natives.”
Regalado explained the Australian pines are an invasive species that are dangerous during hurricanes and are bad for the environment.
“They just take over an entire area every time the wind blows,” she said. “The seeds from an Australian pine hit the ground and sprout new and they just kill everything in their path. They kill the local plants, the local trees.”
New landscaping will be planted that is similar to the other side of the causeway. More importantly, the ugly link fence will be a thing of the past, Regalado said.
Regalado also announced on the podcast that next month the Commission will be presented with a plan to clean-up the Crandon Park Golf course and address some long-neglected maintenance issues.
“I’ll definitely tell you about new greens and about replanting and cleaning up,” she said. “I don’t think anyone that’s ever played the course hasn’t looked around and thought like ‘this could use some love.’”
Regalado was most excited to talk about new programs by the county to help employ the disabled. As a parent of two children in the autism spectrum, Regalado was behind the county push to celebrate Disability Employment Month.
“It’s really about disability awareness around employment. We’ve been really focusing on adult opportunities,” she said.
“And changing the mindset so that parents and caregivers and people who are neurodiverse, consider employment a possibility, because a lot of people, once you get the diagnosis, that’s like off the table.”
Last year, Miami-Dade County launched EmployABILITY 305, a program designed to remove barriers to employment and to bring residents with disabilities in the county’s employment programs.
This year the county has partnered with Urban Impact Lab to find out where there are employment opportunities for the disabled. Disability Committees are in the process of being established in Key Biscayne, Pine Crest and South Miami to provide resources to families with disabled individuals, she said.
“We have so many parents who have needs but they have nowhere to go,” Regalado said. “They need a space where they can have these conversations.”