6 CANDIDATES EXPECT FOR A CHANCE TO REPRESENT KEY CONSTITUTORS IN WASHINGTON, DC – 2022 DECISION GUIDE

A race to represent the Florida Keys and Miami-Dade County in Congress will see incumbent Republican Carlos Gimenez and five challengers. A Republican primary will be between Gimenez, Carlos Garin, of Coral Gables and KW Miller, of Miami. On the Democratic side, Robert Asencio of Miami will face Juan Paredes of Miami in the Aug. 23 primary. The winners of these races will face off in the general election in November. Jeremiah Schaffer, a resident of Sugarloaf, enters as a written candidate.

The Keys Weekly asked the contestants the following questions (candidates KW Miller and Jeremiah Schaffer did not provide answers in time for publication):

  1. What would you do to help secure federal funding for Keys communities facing flooding issues?
  2. What do you think of FEMA’s Risk 2.0 rating and what would you do to mitigate rising insurance costs, especially in the Keys where rates are already high?
    (Responses provided by campaign)

CARLOS GARIN, 57
Republican
Actor, television host and political analyst

1. Given the importance of our district to the economy and tourism, and given the real flood risk zoning of the area, which excludes it from fortuitous events due to its geography, it is imperative to manage and develop a Federal Emerging Immediate Action Fund, based on certification as a special risk area, which allows action during climatic events and before them, in order to minimize their impact on the community. This program would be submitted to the county administration, to guarantee its immediate execution before the action of the FEMA, in coordination with the firefighters and the various humanitarian and territorial government organizations, minimizing the risk of human losses during the period preceding the FEMA entry after a disaster.

2. I think the FEMA 2.0 risk assessment program is good, even if it does not adapt specifically to the real needs of our territory, because it is exposed to hurricane season every year.

For this reason, certification as a special risk area is essential, which allows us to manage the creation of the Federal Emergency Fund for immediate action, which would not only minimize the negative impact of climatic events by accelerating recovery of the area, but also a positive impact on the cost of insurance by considerably reducing your investment.

KW MILLER, 56
Republican
Energy industry expert, Chairman of the America First Political Committee

KW is a global energy and infrastructure expert. He has structured tens of billions in infrastructure, insurance and public/private partnerships. It plans to create a public/private partnership structure to underwrite/insure/restructure outdated traditional flood insurance. This will essentially be a new “insurance risk pool” not underwritten/funded/administered by a new independently managed entity that will provide substantial private funding, in addition to traditional sources. The system is broken and needs to be completely rebuilt.

  1. KW’s position is that FEMA is a complete disaster as a government entity and needs to be completely gutted and revamped. Compulsory flood insurance for homeowners who have mortgages, where lenders require flood coverage, is essentially a fraud for homeowners. The majority of homes in the Florida Keys will never flood on the ground floor (second floor) because building code requires new and rebuilt homes to be elevated. This results in homeowners paying expensive flood insurance premiums that do not properly adjust for homeowner risk. Essentially, KW’s view is that the current floor insurance program is unnecessary and needs to be completely overhauled via a public/private partnership structure mentioned above in FEMA/Flooding support.

CARLOS GIMENEZ, 68 YEARS OLD
Republican
Congressman

1. During my time in Congress, every request for community project funding my office submitted was approved, leaving my office with a 100% track record in securing critical funding for South Florida, including significant federal funding for the Florida Keys. In the last block of funds, my office was able to secure $5.4 million for the Twin Lakes pre-disaster mitigation project. Residents are often those who bear the heaviest burden during natural disasters and seasonal flooding. This significant funding will help the Twin Lakes Subdivision ensure the long-term viability of the neighborhood by building the subdivision’s ability to clear roads, implement flood mitigation protocols, ensure power can be quickly restored and residents are protected during flooding events. .

2. The NFIP currently has approximately 5.1 million policies in force nationwide, including 1,727,000 NFIP policies in Florida. For such an important program, the NFIP is in serious need of reform because it owes taxpayers billions of dollars. Annual premiums nationwide are $3.6 billion and provide $1.3 trillion in property coverage. Florida’s premiums are $986 million a year, or 27.4% of that total. This means that while overall the NFIP lost money, Florida is a donor state to the program. Solid changes are needed for it to become self-sufficient, including increasing the number of paying properties and increasing affordability. That’s why I joined Senator John Kennedy in introducing the Flood Insurance Fairness Act to the House of Representatives, which prevents the NFIP from raising flood insurance premiums without congressional approval. I co-sponsored an NFIP reauthorization that:

  • Limit annual premium increases
  • Institute a means-tested affordability program
  • Raises flood mapping authority by $100 million
  • Provides credit to communities for their investments in resilience

ROBERT ASENCIO, 58
Democrat
Retired police officer (captain), veteran and former state representative

1. I seek to immediately leverage the known urgent findings and recommendations of the Army Corps of Engineers – Florida Keys ongoing vulnerability assessment on “Sea Level Rise” and its effects to lobby on Congressional Leaders, Members, and the “White House” Administration for Additional Appropriations in Land and Marine Resilience and Fortification I seek to leverage the passage of HR 7776 and the insufficient funding provided to Monroe County, quoted in Keys Weekly on March 29, 2022.

2. According to Monroe County, Risk Rating 2.0 was implemented by FEMA at the direction of Congress to move the NFIP forward in the direction of increased premiums, due to its storm-caused debt past. To begin, I will advocate for Monroe County’s recommendations to increase CRS rebates and add federal funding to increase land and structure elevation. I will continue to negotiate legislation to cap increases allowed within current limits – preferably below 10%, as recommended by Monroe County.

JUAN PAREDES, 28
Democrat
SEO technical expert

1. The main problem is that the flood maps are drawn using outdated information dating back to the 1980s. The NFIP needs to increase the funding pool by correctly designating high risk areas to ensure proper funding.

2. FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0 uses more modern science, but I’ll make sure flood zones don’t have problematic disparities. Appropriate funding pools and accurate risk assessments will reduce insurance costs.

About Dianne Stinson

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