Candidates for Miami-Dade Democratic Party Leadership

Leadership elections will be held on April 26 and active members of the Executive Committee will be voting.

On Friday evening (4/26) at 8 PM, we will hold our elections for Chair, First Vice Chair, and Secretary, doors open at 7 PM

Watch the candidate forum from Wednesday night here

Chair candidate - Shevrin Jones

Shevrin “Shev” Jones, a Florida State Senator, is a champion of education and community empowerment. Starting as a teacher, Jones nurtured students in A.P. Chemistry before founding L.E.A.D. Nation, promoting youth leadership and social entrepreneurship. Elected to the Florida House in 2012, his bipartisan efforts included advocating for incarcerated women, clean syringe exchange, youth sports safety, and police body cameras.

Now representing Florida’s 34th Senate District, Jones remains dedicated to serving the community. Engaged in organizations like Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and Leadership Florida, his leadership extends beyond legislative roles. Recognized as Florida Young Democrat of the Year, Jones continues to receive accolades for his service, such as Legislator of the Year by the Broward Parent Teachers Association and inclusion in ICABA’s 100 Most Accomplished Caribbean Americans.

Jones’ commitment to education and community building is exemplified through his involvement in programs like Leadership Broward and the Council of State Governments TOLLS fellowship. His leadership and advocacy for meaningful change make him a prominent figure in Florida’s political landscape, embodying the values of service, empowerment, and progress.

Why are you running for this position?

As a candidate vying for the Chair position of the Miami-Dade Democrats, my fervor is rooted in a profound belief in community engagement and inclusive leadership. To fortify the success of notable Democratic figures like Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and to support the re-election of President Biden and Vice President Harris, a strategic recalibration is paramount. I am dedicated to proactive outreach, authentic engagement, and responsive leadership, recognizing the importance of reflecting on past missteps and amplifying the voices of all Miami-Dade residents.

Unity and collaboration are fundamental, rallying party organizers, activists, and leaders to rebuild trust, register voters, and re-engage marginalized individuals. By prioritizing transparency and respect, we aim to cultivate a more robust and inclusive Democratic Party that resonates with every member of the Miami-Dade community. The upcoming election cycle presents a critical opportunity to address escalating costs, economic disparities, and threats to personal freedoms posed by extremist factions. Our solidarity is pivotal in securing the re-election of President Biden and lifting up down-ballot candidates who align with our core values.

With November approaching, I am eager to join forces with advocates and grassroots organizers, leaving no stone unturned in our endeavor to strengthen the Democratic Party in Miami-Dade. Through collaborative efforts, innovative approaches, and a commitment to inclusivity, we can confront challenges head-on, ensuring a brighter future for all Miami-Dade residents. Together, with dedication, empathy, and a shared aspiration for progress, we can pave the way for a more vibrant, inclusive, and responsive Democratic Party in Miami-Dade, shaping a promising tomorrow for our community.

Chair candidate - Dr. hc Bernard Wh Jennings

Dr hc Bernard Wh Jennings is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator & holds a Loss Mitigation Specialist certificate from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development & has worked in the Mortgage Banking industry for more than 10 years. He served as an Administrative Hearing Officer to the Miami-Dade County Manager to arbitrate disputes arising from Ordinance 99-44. He is President of the Biscayne Gardens Chamber of Commerce. He recently initiated a proposal to the Florida Legislator that passed into law. Coined the “Good Dad Act” House Bill #775 provides that unwed fathers who step up and take responsibility whose names appear on the birth certificate have the same rights and responsibilities as the un-wed mother.

His business experiences range from airport development to construction management, he successfully negotiated one of the largest private commercial aviation leaseholds & development contracts in Miami-Dade at Opa-Locka Airport. He served as a Mediator for the Collins Center for Public Policy Managed Foreclosure Mediation Program, American Arbitration Association & he is a mediator for the Florida Department of Financial Services Mediation Program. He has performed Business Arbitration & Debt Negotiation for many years. Dr. Jennings is the Founder & President of the Biscayne Gardens Chamber of Commerce. He is the Chairman of the Incorporation and Charter Committee for the Incorporation of Miami-Dade’s next municipality to be named as the City of Biscayne Gardens Village. Former Executive Director of the Miami-Dade DEC. Dr Jennings is also former Chairman of the Miami Alumni Kappa Foundation, Inc. a local not-for-profit. Dr Jennings has a Bachelors’ degree in Public Administration from Florida Memorial University and a Masters of Applied Social Science in Public Administration from Florida A&M University.

Why are you running for this position? 

I'm running for Chair because we as a community are victimized year after year by the inept behavior and false promises of failed leadership. We demand strict accountability and an outside audit of all expenditures. And moving forward we will demand a strict division of funding and resources based on an apportionment of the voting citizenry. It always comes down to how much each vote costs in an election cycle. Not what we pay for the vote but what we spend to obtain the vote. I.e. we have the voter file, we should determine how much our budget is and divide that number by each vote. Then divide the votes into demographics based on an ethnic constituency count. At that point, we will fairly let the chips fall where they may. We should allow our clubs and causes and District Leaders to make decisions about spending based on the proportionality of voters within their bases. That way those who have worked to organize for four years have the opportunity to put their built organizations to work.

I want to be a catalyst for successful change, an ombudsman to bring all facets of the party together, Clubs & Caucuses, Blacks & Whites, Hispanics & Haitians, Jews & Muslims, Asians & Caribbeans, haves and have-nots. Short and Tall democrats alike.

Chair candidate - Manuel Fernandez

I’m the 19-year-old President of the Miami-Dade College Democrats club. As leader of the MDC Dems, I have brought the club back from the dead, for lack of a better word. What was once a club that no one knew about is now a common mention at the Student Life Department. I’ve gathered candidates to serve as guest speakers, I’ve helped rally the board to ensure the club is running smoothly and constantly has things for members to do, and have continuously spent my time and energy to ensure the prosperity of the MDC Dems. I graduated from Coral Reef Senior High School from the Legal and Public Affairs Academy (Legal Strong!) and have had a passion for politics since I was 11 years old.

My fascination with politics led me to start attending meetings with the Coral Gables Democrats and soon thereafter branch off to meeting new people. I joined the DEC in February 2024 after having applied in October or November of 2023. In just a few short months, I have managed to meet candidates and loads of people I would never have imagined I’d be interacting with, and it has been an honor. As a student at Miami-Dade College Kendall, I am majoring in pre-law. I am dedicated to going to law school and becoming a Constitutional Attorney with the sole purpose of protecting people’s rights. And I fully intend to do that as a member of the DEC and in whatever future positions I may hold.

Why are you running for this position? 

I’m running for Chair because it is truly important to acknowledge the ongoing issues within the local Party. Consultants run rampant, holding the DEC by the “aguacates” and keep squeezing. Under no circumstances should we be allowing these companies to exploit the DEC, its members, and further ruin the party. The Miami-Dade Democratic Party has lost too much in recent years to simply lie back and allow it to completely fall apart. We have a prime opportunity here, after removing the last utterly useless chair who did nothing but run the party into the ground. This opportunity opens the local party up to real organizing. Organizing that can lead us to actually WINNING elections. We cannot afford “short-term losses”, we’ve already lost too much, in many ways thanks to previous “leadership”.

I joined the DEC not just because I wanted to participate, but also because I truly believe it is important to work together to ensure that our democratic processes are protected. I thought there was real hope in the people who announced they’d be running for the Chair position until they came out with this ridiculous event moderated by none other than three former chairs, two of which have controversial reputations, to say the least. To allow a former, REMOVED CHAIR to moderate an event for DEC members to question candidates running for the position is a SLAP IN THE FACE of those who worked so hard to foster this change. And I, for one, am insulted. I cannot, in good conscience, stand back and let the party I know and love fall apart because people are interested in money and power. That is NOT what I signed up for. That is what I signed up to eliminate! I am running because there needs to be a sudden, significant change in how we handle the party, and I will do my absolute best to ensure that change.

Chair candidate - Angel Montalvo

Born and raised in Miami-Dade to working-class immigrant parents from Cuba and Honduras, Angel Montalvo understands firsthand the challenges facing marginalized communities and the importance of advocating for social justice and equity. With a deep-rooted commitment to progressive values, Angel has dedicated their life to grassroots activism and community organizing. They have been actively involved with various organizations, including the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Engage Miami, Miami Climate Alliance, Catalyst, and the Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Equity. Their passion for progressive causes was further fueled by their involvement in the Bernie Sanders campaign, where they witnessed the power of grassroots mobilization and community engagement.

Currently serving as the President of the People's Progressive Caucus of Miami-Dade, Angel leads a dynamic group of over 40 members dedicated to advancing progressive values within the local Democratic Party. Under their leadership, the caucus is launching the People's Program, a canvassing initiative aimed at engaging with communities using vote builder to recruit members to join the Democratic Executive Committee (DEC). Angel's decision to lead the Progressive Caucus stems from a belief in the urgent need for authentic representation within the Democratic Party—one that prioritizes community interests over corporate interests. They rely on delegating responsibilities to the membership, recognizing the collective power of grassroots organizing in effecting meaningful change. Looking ahead, Angel envisions a more inclusive and progressive Democratic Party in Miami-Dade. Their focus on canvassing in communities using vote builder reflects their commitment to building a strong and diverse DEC that truly represents the voices and interests of the people. Through their tireless advocacy and unwavering dedication to progressive values, Angel Montalvo continues to be a driving force for positive change in Miami-Dade and beyond.

Why are you running for this position? 

I am running for Chair of the local Democratic Party because I love our party too much to stand idly by while corporate interests continue to dictate our agenda at the local, state, and federal levels. It pains me to see the values of justice, equality, and progress that drew me to the Democratic Party being compromised in the name of political expediency and financial gain. Our party was founded on the principles of inclusivity, social justice, and economic fairness. Yet, in recent years, we have strayed from these principles, allowing the voices of everyday Americans to be drowned out by the roar of corporate lobbyists and big money donors. This betrayal of our core values is not only morally reprehensible, but it is also politically unsustainable. The recent forum and discussions within the Progressive Caucus have made it abundantly clear that there is a hunger for change within our party. People are tired of the same old politics-as-usual. They want leaders who are unafraid to challenge the status quo, who will fight tooth and nail for the interests of the many, not the few.

As President of the People's Progressive Caucus of Miami-Dade, I have seen firsthand the damage that corporate influence can inflict on our party and our communities. I have watched as well-intentioned leaders have been co-opted by special interests, their promises of change drowned out by the clinking of campaign finance dollars. But I know that winning this election may be an uphill battle. The entrenched interests that currently hold sway over our party will not relinquish their power without a fight. However, my candidacy serves as a notice—a notice that progressives will no longer sit idly by while our party is hijacked by corporate interests. We are organizing. We are mobilizing. And we are determined to reclaim our party from the grips of greed and corruption. So let us join together in this fight for the soul of our party. Let us rise above the petty squabbles and personal vendettas that have divided us for too long. And let us reclaim our party from the forces of greed and corruption, and once again make it a party of, by, and for the people.

Chair candidate - William Cohen
(Withdrew his candidacy on 4/24)

Emmy, Peabody, and Edward R. Murrow Award-winner William Cohen, known professionally as Billy Corben, is the co-founder of the Miami-based documentary production company Rakontur.

He has directed and co-produced some of the most popular nonfiction titles of the last 20 years including the Cocaine Cowboys franchise (2006-present), the ESPN 30 for 30s The U (2019), The U Part 2 (2014), and Broke (2012). 537 Votes (2020) with HBO and Oscar-winning filmmaker Adam McKay, God Forbid: The Sex Scandal That Brought Down a Dynasty (2022), the most watched doc in Hulu history, and his upcoming feature doc, From Russia with Lev, executive produced by Rachel Maddow and slated to premiere on MSNBC in September, make up a trilogy of election eve docs that entertain, raise awareness and activate voters.

Corben is a prominent accountability journalist and good government advocate in Miami known for frequent appearances at city hall, speaking truth to power. His direct action has helped shape elections and reform local governments.

He is the host of the weekly #BecauseMiami podcast on Dan LeBatard’s Meadowlark Media network where he talks all things Florida F*ckery.

Why are you running for this position?

With the election just one week away, I was concerned that the race for Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chair remained uncontested. 

State Senator Shevrin Jones is a good man and a more than capable candidate, but competition is good for the consumer. It is, in fact, essential for democracy: no options, no election. Voters need a robust marketplace of ideas. We deserve an opportunity to hear our candidates propose their plans and lay out of a vision for the future.

The Democratic Party in Miami-Dade — the whole state of Florida, really — is a shambles. We can’t solve a problem until we acknowledge we have one. That starts with open and honest dialogue about what has gone wrong over the last quarter-century and what the hell to do next to avoid repeating those mistakes.

The local Party has been hijacked by a consultant cartel that does not care about getting Democrats elected; they only care about lining their pockets. And they have run the Party right into the ground — for profit. They exploit our bank accounts to pass through unlimited contributions to their candidates and abuse our passionate, dedicated, and hard-working volunteers for the sole benefit of their monopoly. They have perverted the very essence of what it means to be a Miami-Dade Democrat.

We are trying to save our Party; they are trying to preserve their business model.

First Vice Chair candidate - Ricky Junquera

Ricky Junquera is the former First Vice Chair. Professionally, Ricky has been the National Senior Press Secretary for the Sierra Club, where he has worked since 2015. Prior to that, Ricky was a Press Secretary in Congress. As a candidate, Ricky raised over half a million dollars for his 2020 campaign for Florida State House 118 while teaming up with the campaigns of the two House seats next to him in Javier Estevez and Franccesca Cesti-Browne, the three becoming known as the “Win the “Westsiders.” Ricky has been a strong communicator with elected officials and candidates, helping them organize and fundraise over the past four years. In 2022, Ricky worked with four other community leaders through Rise Up in Coral Gables to put on the very successful unity rally with every elected running for office from Val Demings and Charlie Christ down to every State House candidate. He provided them a platform to showcase their race and to obtain real media attention for their races in front of a packed crowd with every television news crew and media outlet in Miami. Ricky also currently sits on the steering committee of the Miami Climate Alliance, as their Legislative Chair.

Why are you running for this position?

I am running for First Vice Chair because I believe that I am very well suited in this very small window of time to build back up and fund the core programs that used to be staples of the local party’s resources to elected officials, candidates, and our clubs and caucuses. I believe that I have the ability to connect with every single elected official, candidate, and head of all aligned organizations to create a line of communication to effectively coordinate and build up capacity to help specifically for this presidential election cycle. On day one, I can call that full coalition and have their trust and confidence to produce successful programs and funding to help win now in 2024. I oversaw our last successful election cycle, where we had club and caucus volunteers staffing every single early voting location from 7 am-7 pm every day so that candidates could focus on the doors and phones. I know I can inspire others to put in the work with a simple vision of getting back to doing the basics well. We can do this, and I will put in the work to do this in a collaborative way that considers every corner of our county, every club and caucus, every race, and every aligned organization. We’ve done it before and we can do it again!

First Vice Chair candidate - Millie Herrera

Millie is a lifelong Cuban American Democrat and became a member of the Miami-Dade County DEC in 1995. She founded and was elected president of the Miami-Dade Democratic Hispanic Caucus chapter in 1997 and was elected president of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida from 2000-2004 and 2007-2008. Millie has been elected a DNC delegate seven times since 2000. In 2012, Millie was appointed by President Obama to serve as the U.S. Department of Labor Southeast Regional Representative for Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. Responsible for amplifying key programs and initiatives of the department in the nine states of the Southeast region, she served as liaison to federal, state and local government officials and community stakeholders. During her tenure, she worked with women, veterans, LGBTQ, faith-based, people with disabilities, education, farm workers, labor, and civic organizations; federal contractors, other federal agencies, and business groups on veterans’ job fairs, equal pay, awareness and prevention of human trafficking, wage theft, prevailing wage violations and misclassification of workers, and the launch of the Affordable Care Act. Millie is an opinion maker and is often sought out for interviews on issues of importance to Hispanics, women, and working Americans by national and local media. She was the Democratic political analyst on the weekly Univision Al Punto Florida Cara A Cara segment 2018-2019, is a regular guest on Univision’s political shows Al Punto with Jorge Ramos, and Línea de Fuego, Telemundo’s weekly political show Enfoque Político, Mega TV and AmericaTeVe local political shows, Voice of the Americas, Actualidad Radio, and other Spanish language TV and radio programs. Millie is a 2004 Fellow of the National Hispana Leadership Institute Executive Leadership Program and completed the Harvard J.F.K. School of Government Effective Change through Public Policy and Management Executive Training program. She is a member of the Harvard Alumni Club of Miami, and the national organization Women Impacting Public Policy. Millie has been honored as the 2016 Miami LATINAStyle magazine Entrepreneur of the Year, 2016 Hispanic Woman of Distinction Pioneer Award, 2015 Woman of Impact from the Women's History Coalition of Miami-Dade County, 2013 Glass Ceiling Award from the Florida Diversity Council, and the 2004 Latina of Excellence Award from Hispanic magazine. Believing that community involvement is the best way to make the world a better place for all, Millie was involved in the Equal Pay Miami-Dade campaign and currently in public policy advocacy to statutorily define Microbusinesses nationally. Millie held elected office in the Kendall Community Council 12 from 2003 to 2006. She was a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem in Miami-Dade County from 2003-2012, and on the Miami-Dade County Commission for Women in 2002-2003. She served as Secretary of the Board of Directors of Union Positiva, a non-profit organization focused on HIV/AIDS prevention and outreach for vulnerable men and women in the Hispanic community from 2002-2005. Millie is a business leader who founded and leads a business consulting company that helps small and medium sized businesses grow through certifications, strategic planning and marketing strategies.

Why are you running for this position?

I am running for First Vice Chair to support and assist the new Chair in making the DEC an effective organization again that will concentrate in electing Democrats from the President all the way down the ballot to municipal races. Fundraising is crucial if we want to be able to execute a strong grassroots campaign to support our candidates and get our voters to the polls. I will work with the Chair and the Finance Committee to talk to donors and raise funds by showing that we have an organized and effective DEC. We need to communicate, motivate, register to vote, and GOTV Democrats like never before, in language and in culture, so we can ensure that we continue to live in a democracy. We need to be present in all our communities and understand that diversity is what makes us strong. I will continue to be a strong voice in Spanish language media – traditional and digital – and ensure that all nationalities, languages, and ethnic groups are included in our communications strategies by reaching out to their media outlets. At a time when women are losing their body autonomy and reproductive rights, and immigrants and the LGBTQ communities are being threatened with so much hatred and loss of their right to exist, we need to strengthen our support and fight alongside them. It is also important that we inspire and reengage DEC members, clubs, caucuses, and volunteers to mobilize our voters. One of my strengths is my work with Labor Unions. I will join our Chair to meet with Labor leaders and reactivate the Labor Committee, which has not been active for many years. As a small business owner, I will reach out to small and medium-sized businesses to let them know the Democratic Party is on their side and invite their leaders to join the DEC. We need to fill all the open positions in the DEC, and I will work to identify potential new DEC members to continue growing our organization. And most importantly, I will work tirelessly to bring back to the DEC a sense of collaboration, collegiality, and respectful communication with each other even when we disagree. We are Democrats, and we need to work together again for a common goal of recruiting and electing good leaders who will create a better future for all.

Secretary candidate - Marco Reyes

I was born and raised in Miami-Dade County. I am the first of my family from both sides (mother and father) to be born in this great nation of ours. My first language is Spanish and I took ESOL in elementary school to learn how to read, write and speak the English language. I grew up with a single mom who every day worked her butt off to be able to pay the rent and put food on the table for us. The values both my parents instilled in me are what make me the man I am today. I am married to my beautiful wife, Adeline (Allie) and I have four amazing daughters, ages 24, twins 18 and 14 years old. Work hard every day to continue to provide for my family and to make sure that our kids are on the right path to success. I am also running for Florida House of Representatives 119 because we need a change and living paycheck to paycheck is simply not working out for us anymore.

Why are you running for this position?

I am running for Secretary because I want to be able to contribute to the group and help increase our members so that we become a stronger local party. This will also encourage others to run for local, state, and federal offices plus in will increase our volunteer group. I would work with the leadership members to look for ways to increase membership and volunteer turnout. Will work alongside them to help candidates reach the ballot and win their respective elections. As a candidate myself for the Florida House, I have found help and assistance with the group but I know we can do much better. During the old administration it was very hard to get a hold of someone and no candidate should have to go through that. Candidates need guidance and help. We are in this together. We will only reach success if we are all on the same page and work as a team. I feel most members have lost faith in the organization and we must, we have to restore their faith and the only way to do this is to be transparent, clear, and understanding with every issue that we have or may come up in the future. In a nutshell, I want to be the Democrat who helps the DEC reorganized. Can't do this alone, we need strong and helpful leadership to accomplish this. Thank you for your time and vote.

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