Harvey Ruvin: Clerk keeps county moving ahead with environmental focus
Few have dedicated as much of their lives to local public service as Harvey Ruvin. Next year will mark his 50th as an elected Miami-Dade official and his 30th as the county’s principal recordkeeper.
Few also can claim to be as popular with the electorate, as evidenced last year when more Miami-Dade residents voted for him – nearly 759,000 people – than any other candidate on the ballot. That includes races for president, Congress and the county mayoralty.
Mr. Ruvin, who in 1972 went from being North Bay Village mayor to winning and holding a Miami-Dade Commission seat for 20 years before then becoming county clerk, defers credit for his lasting public favor to his staff.
“During this pandemic, the people in my office have been heroic,” he said. “We were the first clerk’s office to go electronic, and it positioned us to be proactive and made our records much more accessible. My employees took the extra steps, and when judging me, the first thing on the electorate’s mind is how great someone was when they needed information. Why make a change?”
As the custodian of all of the county’s records, it is vital that the county clerk’s office remains non-political. The last thing the pubic should think, he said, is that records are being manipulated or inaccurate.
“So, I try to stay away from politics,” he said. “The one exception is, I remain active on environmental and climate change issues. I just have so much of my life invested in that.”
Many of what today are considered no-brainer environmental efforts here are the result of ordinances and policies Mr. Ruvin set forth as a commissioner decades before climate change was a commonplace concern.
Among them: Miami-Dade’s residential and commercial recycling system, efforts to curb greenhouse gases that to date have offset 40 million-plus metric tons of carbon emissions, an endangered land preservation program that at the time of its creation was the largest of its kind in the nation and, more recently, leading the county’s Sea Level Rise Task Force.
“I try to take the long view. Short-term, you’ll have deniers and people more focused on immediate things, but solutions have to be put in place long before these unimaginable impacts get here,” he said. “It reminds me of a conversation I had with [former Gov.] Rick Scott. He said, ‘We don’t have to worry about this. It’s not proven. I’m not a scientist.’ My answer to that was and to anyone who says that is, ‘Did you take ninth-grade science? Because it says when you warm water, it expands. And as the oceans expand, the water won’t go deeper. The sea rises.’ That’s the reality.”
Mr. Ruvin spoke with Miami Today reporter Jesse Scheckner.
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