Daniella Levine Cava was sworn in as Miami-Dade County Mayor on Tuesday November 17 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami.
Levine Cava, 65, was the incumbent District 8 County Commissioner. Her new jurisdiction contains 2,751,000 people, 34 municipalities, and a vast urban territory that’s 44% unincorporated.
First elected in 2013, Levine Cava was re-elected in District 8 in 2018 with 61% of the vote. County voters instituted term limits in November of 2012 restricting Commission seats to two four-year terms.
The new Mayor won with 52% of the vote in a run-off election that coincided with the 3’s general election.
She becomes the 8th Mayor under the modern Home Rule charter and the first woman.
Mayor Levine Cava graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Psychology where she was President of the Student Council. She holds a law degree from Columbia University as well as a master’s degree in social work.
After university, the Mayor moved to join her physician husband who is a Miami native and raised two children, Eliza and Edward.
Prior to elective office, Levine Cava’s County work included the 1996 founding of the Human Services Coalition. The Coalition uses partner organizations as resource guides for referral to many community services such as healthcare, public benefits, and economic and educational opportunities.
Miami-Dade’s Mayor is not a member of the 13-person County Commission but has veto authority over its actions. The Mayor appoints directors of the County’s twenty-five Departments, including PortMiami, Aviation, Communications, Policy and Legislation, and the Director of Transportation and Public Works. The Mayor also appoints the County Manager as well as
several deputy managers and senior advisors to help oversee the work of approximately 25,500 County employees.
Mayor Levine Cava’s first appointment after the election was of her Chief of Staff, Johanna Cervone. The daughter of Argentinian immigrants, Cervone graduated from County public schools and holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Florida State University. She has past experience as director in a nonprofit company promoting women’s equality in Latin America.
Mayor Levine Cava listed her priority as a vigorous pandemic response and recovery plan in light of the County’s 4,000 deaths from COVID.
“I will begin by appointing a Chief Medical Officer,” said the Mayor. “This is to ensure our pandemic response is driven by data and science, not politics.”
The new Mayor also intends to establish a County Response and Recovery Task Force to provide a guide to pandemic economic recovery.
“I’ll build on my success as a commissioner by investing in small businesses, particularly minority- and women-owned small businesses,” said Levine Cava.
The Mayor said she plans to prioritize public transit efforts to “connect residents with good paying jobs. We must deliver on the promise of the SMART Plan for relief from gridlock,” she added.
Mayor Levine Cava said she intends to work on the impending collapse of the Biscayne Bay eco-system and the impacts of climate change. “To clean up and protect the Bay, we need to repair our aging water infrastructure and accelerate our septic to sewer connection,” the Mayor said.
Asked what family would be with her at the mayoral ceremony, Mayor Levine Cava said “My dad, husband, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and many cousins will attend.”
Tuesday’s buoyant spirit at the swearing-in ceremony was more than gathering a proud family and on relief from the year’s hectic campaign schedule. It held the promise of fresh energy and new ideas.