Matti Herrera Bower Looks For Communitys Input As City Plans To Create Miami Beach Convention Center District
When Miami Beach’s self-described "people’s mayor," Matti Herrera Bower, steps down in November, it will cap a more than 30-year career in community affairs and local politics — maybe. She says she hasn’t decided yet whether to run for city commissioner, a position she held for eight years before she was elected in 2007 to the first of three two-terms as mayor. She is a Democrat, although city elections are nonpartisan, and is Miami Beach’s first woman mayor and its first Hispanic mayor.
Her final term has been challenging as controversy has marred Miami Beach City Hall. The last year has seen corruption probes of several city departments that have resulted in a string of arrests of city employees, longtime City Manager Jorge Gonzalez resigned and the mayor and commissioners are in the process of hiring a replacement — all while the city is taking on one of its largest projects ever: the development of a Miami Beach Convention Center District, never mind the more routine but never boring matters of governing one of the world’s most famous international beach resorts.
Ms. Herrera Bower was raised in Miami after leaving Cuba with her parents when she was a girl. She eventually became a dental assistant, married, moved to New York for about 13 years, divorced, moved back to Miami, and met her second husband, a postal worker, who passed away about two years ago. She has four grown daughters and six grandchildren.
As a community activist, she started out as a PTA mom, working to save an elementary school from closing, joined the campaign to save the historic Art Deco District in South Beach, and helped create affordable housing for low-income elderly and others. Aside from efforts to improve local schools and providing housing, she has supported social equality initiatives — including the first city-supported gay pride festival — and development of the arts, among other causes.