Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush have given little priority to climate change on the Republican presidential campaign trail, and a group of South Florida mayors have had enough.
Fifteen mayors from cities in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties wrote the two Miami candidates a letter asking them to meet with local leaders to "discuss the risks facing Florida communities due to climate change and help us chart a path forward to protect our state and the entire United States."
"As mayors representing municipalities across Florida, we call on you to acknowledge the reality and urgency of climate change and to address the upcoming crisis it presents our communities," both letters begin. "Our cities and towns are already coping with the impacts of climate change today. We will need leadership and concrete solutions from our next president."
Most of the mayors are Democrats, and most of them serve in nonpartisan posts. But at least two are Republican, Tomás Regalado of Miami and Jim Cason of Coral Gables. Regalado is a Rubio supporter who showed up to the Florida senator's fundraiser at the InterContinental Hotel downtown two weeks ago.
"We are in ground zero, and we need to have our candidates from Florida address the issue," Regalado told the Miami Herald on Monday. "I understand that it's a very delicate issue for them, because some of their constituents do not agree or understand."
The mayors were prompted to sent the letter by ClimateTruth.org, a liberal environmental activist organization formerly known as Forecast the Facts.
Regalado said the mayors, some of whom have already worked together dealing with Florida Power & Light's proposed new power lines, "aspire to get climate change into the national conversation."
"We don't have any leverage with the Trumps and the Christies or the Cruzes of the nation, but I think that they are closer to home," he said of Bush and Rubio.
During high tides scientists say have been worsened by sea-level rise, Miami has seen flooding in its Upper Eastside and Brickell neighborhoods, Regalado said. The city created a committee to take on the issue only recently and needs resources, he added. Miami-Dade has had a task force in place for a couple of years; the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, which comprises Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, was formed in 2009.
The mayors who signed the letters, in addition to Cason and Regalado, are: Peggy Bell, Cutler Bay; Joy Cooper, Hallandale Beach; Daniel Dietch, Surfside; Eugene Flinn, Palmetto Bay; Connie Leon-Kreps, North Bay Village; Cindy Lerner, Pinecrest; Mayra Peña Lindsay, Key Biscayne; Jeri Muoio, West Palm Beach; Martin Packer, Bal Harbour; Gary Resnick, Wilton Manors; Jack Seiler, Fort Lauderdale; Glenn Singer, Golden Beach; and Philip Stoddard, South Miami.