Miami, FL — Monica Russo, SEIU Florida president and executive vice president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers, has released a statement following the endorsement of Stephen Bittel in his run for Miami-Dade County Democratic Party committeeman:
“In this moment where working people and communities everywhere face unprecedented attacks, we need a clear vision for the Florida Democratic Party. This election taught us many things about what progressives need to win for our communities. We need to engage our neighbors year-round and expand the ranks of actively engaged community leaders, while ensuring that every voice within the party is heard and respected. We need a well-funded, permanent grassroots infrastructure with the technical capacity and talent to make sustained change, the discipline and vision to recruit good candidates starting at the municipal level and the ability to run strong campaigns at every level of government. Floridians should be hearing a message from the Democratic Party that is speaking loudly about the economic pain and uncertain future that working and poor people of all backgrounds have been experiencing for far too long under Republican policies that have squeezed those who can least afford it. The party should be the vehicle for the voices of all Floridians regardless of color, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation, a collaborative space of trust and cooperation where partners play to their strengths in a way that engages the greatest element of our movement — our communities and the collective wisdom that lies within.
“SEIU members interviewed both candidates for Miami-Dade State committeeperson — Senator Dwight Bullard and Stephen Bittel — because each have announced their intention to represent Democrats statewide as the Florida Democratic Party Chair. The 55,000 working women and men of SEIU Florida understand that now more than ever, we need leaders who are aligned with our values and who are willing to stand up and fight for working people and our communities and who believe in grassroots organizing to bring the substantive change that Floridians need.
“SEIU members have fought alongside Dwight Bullard for many years — he is a champion and a strong voice for the issues that our communities are facing. Public service runs through Senator Dwight Bullard's veins. He is a powerful voice for the voiceless, the disenfranchised, the poor, the aged and the youth. Dwight has been an advocate and a truth teller. He has an important future in the Democratic Party and the progressive movement.
“Stephen Bittel has a compelling vision for transforming the institution of the Democratic Party into a strategic powerhouse in the service of everyday Floridians who lack healthcare, living wages and civil rights. Bittel has articulated a compelling strategy in this complicated moment when working people face unprecedented attacks. He has the organizing skills along with a broad array of relationships in the community that position him to be able to transform that vision into a reality. For that reason, we — the members of SEIU — have endorsed Stephen Bittel for Miami-Dade State Committeeman and FDP Chair.
“In this volatile and uncertain political environment, SEIU members are focused on how to support transformational leadership both inside and outside of the Democratic Party. Democrats need to build a robust and vibrant infrastructure as we face an unprecedented and uncertain future in 2017 and beyond that will test us as never before. We need to be ready to fight like hell for the future our families and communities need. Stephen Bittel will be a savvy and compassionate Captain of the newly minted Florida Democratic Party. He has the heart, the will and the experience to expand our capacity and effectiveness to navigate the complicated waters ahead.”
SEIU Florida represents over 55,000 active and retired healthcare professionals, public employees and property service workers in the state of Florida. SEIU members provide vital public services in Florida’s hospitals, nursing homes, public schools, community colleges, municipal and county governments, malls, and universities. With over 2.1 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North America.