Steve Simeonidis: Candidate for Chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party

I moved to South Florida a decade ago to attend law school at the University of Miami. After surviving many a polar vortex while earning my BA in Political Science and Theology at the University of Notre Dame – my move South was a welcome change.

I have spent much of my professional career directing a team of nearly 100 attorneys, paralegals and operations staff. It was through this experience that I learned to lead.

I have spent much of my free time being involved with community organizations, including this DEC and various Democratic clubs and candidates. It was through this experience that I learned to serve.

I am currently the President of the Miami-Dade Young Democrats, the General Counsel for this DEC as well as for the Florida Young Democrats and the People’s Progressive Caucus. I also sit on the Miami-Dade Commission on Human Rights. I have volunteered as an attorney with many Democratic organizations and numerous candidates - from local elected officials to some of the big names that now represent us in DC.

My service experience is not limited to politics. I have also volunteered for Big Brother Big Sisters, as a judge in Miami-Dade Teen Court and have raised tens of thousands of dollars for local homeless shelters.

It is these experiences that will help me lead and serve our DEC, build on our recent successes and fix our shortcomings.

We have made great strides as a local party. Each election nets us more and more Democratic votes, but we need to push even harder because the big Democratic vote totals out of Miami-Dade are not large enough to overcome the GOP strongholds in our state. We need a leader with experience driving large voter turnout. For almost a year I have led the Miami-Dade Young Democrats, charged with getting out the millennial vote. Under my leadership, Miami-Dade County saw a 4x increase in young voter turnout.

As chair of this DEC, I would focus our efforts on adding Democrats to our local commissions, electing a Democrat as Mayor of Miami-Dade and increasing our margin of victory in this county so we can turn Florida dependably blue. To do this, we need to make some significant investments in our local party. Here are three priorities I would focus on if elected as chair:

Staffing

Our DEC is led by some of the hardest working and most dedicated volunteers I have ever had the pleasure of working with. They have done wonders when it comes to registering voters and increasing voter turnout. But they need help. We cannot make the gains we need with just volunteers. When it comes to winning state and national elections, we are the most important county in the most important state in the nation. The fact that we have no paid staff needs to change now. I believe the following three positions are essential to our success:

  • Executive Director
    • This position would oversee and promote coordination between clubs, candidates and the state and local party that we so desperately lacked in 2018.
    • It would work with our Organizing Director to build out a field team that is ever-present and does not just show up right before presidential elections.
  • Finance Director
    • We have a great finance team in place, but they need the help of a full-time staffer. We raised less than $0.50 per Miami-Dade Democrat last year – we can and must do better.
    • We need to strike a balance between targeting small and large dollar donors, ensuring that we contact people that donate to our allies, but have not yet financially supported our party.
    • This is largely a self-funded position – in addition to a fair salary, they should receive bonuses akin to a percentage of all new dollars that they raise.
  • Organizing Director
    • Grassroots organizing through an aggressive field campaign needs to be the focus of our organization every day of every year. We need to ensure that we are present at all relevant community events to better hear our community’s concerns and facilitate outreach.
    • As a party, we are often told that we only visit some of our most diverse communities immediately prior to an election and then disappear until next cycle. This position’s top responsibility should be to remedy that justified accusation. We need to earn people’s vote, not ask for it.

The finance position will be a revenue positive position. The other two positions can be paid for out of funds already earmarked for possible staff in our 2019 budget.

Legislation

We can be a powerful organization, but it’s been almost our sole practice to just offer campaign support to our democratic nominees. We can do more than that. We need to leverage the importance of our voice and translate that into progressive policy accomplishments as prioritized and voted on by our membership.

Transparency and Technology

We need to embrace transparency and technology. The logistics of our meetings create an overly restrictive environment. It is an impediment to diversity. Not everyone can make weeknight meetings in Doral. We need to consider people that work evenings, people that can’t get childcare and those that can’t easily get to Doral. Our audience needs to be greater than just those in the room. This committee represents more than 600,000 Democrats. We need to live stream our meetings and make them viewable after the fact. We need to offer more offsite locations and enable those members to vote.

We also don’t need to reinvent the wheel to keep our members and fellow Miami-Dade Democrats informed on the issues. We need to compile all the great work we do, along with that of our partners, like the labor community and electeds, into a monthly newsletter – even the most connected amongst us cannot possibility stay abreast of all relevant issues.

I serve because I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to succeed. On February 18, I hope that you will vote to have me serve as your Chair.