Commissioner Ken Russell won the popular vote with his honest approach to serving the city. He’s passionate about protecting the beautify of Miami, both natural and man-made. An accomplished entrepreneur and adventure athlete, Ken Russell helms the powerful City of Miami District 2 which includes all of Miami’s Downtown and runs north and south from Coconut Grove to North 60th Street.
JP: You’ve lived around the world. Why did you choose to come back to Coconut Grove to live and raise your family?
KR: My childhood memories were here in the Grove, on the Key, in the City and, yeah I wanted to come back to raise my family.
JP: What is it that you love about Miami? Like your whole campaign was branded…
RK: I love Miami!
KR: And it’s funny, when I, when I first hired my first consultant that came on he said, “Ugh, you got to get rid of that; the “I love Miami” thing is just way too cheesy.”
KR: And so he said, “tell me, so, why do you love Miami?” And I told him how I felt and he was like, “actually, that’s very sincere. You should use that because it’s good.” There are so many things that make this city unique. I can be at the opera one minute and paddle boarding with a manatee in another minute and there’s very few cities where you can have such a confluence of what’s great about a big urban city and what’s great about nature. We have that. That’s something that we have to care about and protect.
JP: What are your major concerns; what keeps you up at night?
KR: You know we have a lot of things that need to be addressed in the city. There is a lot of inequity in our neighborhoods and there so many things that we can do on a tangible basis. But what really gets me excited about the city is the potential to change the way the city functions as a government, the way that we can engage the electorate, the way citizens can get involved and their opinions can be valued. So what keeps me up at night is thinking about how many more commission meetings I have over the next four years where I can introduce things that will change the way this government works in the areas of transparency and public involvement.
JP: I think many people are turned off by politics. Can you talk about your position and what you feel you can accomplish?
KR: Sure. I’m living proof that democracy works in its purest form and that someone who had nothing to do with politics and no connections to politics could run a successful campaign against strong and worthy opponents and now represent an important part of my city. The idea that without those connections or history or experience I am now in a position to change the laws of the city, which can affect our quality of life in a positive way, is striking. What’s surprising to me is how enjoyable the process and the transition has been. I’ve been trying to bring the public on this journey with me as I go from average citizen to politician. The fact that everything I’m seeing still with the eyes of a citizen, I now realize, I can effect, is really enjoyable. The surprising thing is how ready Miami is, even within its government, to see a positive change. There are a lot of good people here working in government and they’re ready for change in a positive way and I’m not getting resistance, like I thought I might, in terms of bringing good ideas before the commission and the mayor. Everyone’s excited to see what were going to do as a commission in the next four years.
JP: How do you feel about all the development in Coconut Grove?
KR: One thing about the Grove if you look at it throughout history is that it has always changed; it has never been the same. And it has always retained its Bohemian spirit. There’s a certain culture here that involves what’s important to our community; our tree canopy, our culture in the arts, and our neighborhood feel. I think we can welcome and direct change in a positive way.