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Mayor Wayne Messam: 7 things you need to know

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By Roey Hadar

Gwen Ifill Fellow

Wayne Messam, the 44-year-old mayor of Miramar, Florida, is one of over a dozen candidates running for the Democratic nomination for president.

Mayor Messam has served  since 2015 and won reelection in March with 86-percent of the vote. After winning, he formally launched his campaign on March 28th, seeking to capture the “American Dream” and focus on health care, environmental and education financing issues.

Here are seven things you need to know about the Florida mayor running for president.

  • Messam made history by becoming the first African-American mayor of Miramar, Florida. Messam won by defeating a 16-year incumbent to become mayor of the South Florida city that has a population of over 100,000. As mayor, Messam has pushed for local gun regulations, even suing then-Governor Rick Scott to obtain the power to push through regulations. Messam and a group of other Florida mayors tried to challenge Florida’s wide-ranging state-level protections of gun rights.
  • He is the son of Jamaican immigrants and seeks to make the “American Dream” an option for more people. In his campaign announcement video, Messam highlighted how his parents, who worked in sugar cane fields in South Florida, helped him get where he is today. In an interview with CNN after his announcement, he said he worried that the “American Dream” is “slipping away for a lot of Americans.”
  • Messam has introduced a proposal to help Americans with their student loan debts. The issue of student loans has been a top priority of Messam’s campaign, and he is calling for repealing corporate tax cuts passed by President Donald Trump and the Republican-majority Congress in 2017 and using that money to help alleviate people’s student loan debts.
  • Before announcing his run, Messam traveled to the Middle East to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. After winning reelection as mayor in March, Messam went to the Middle East, setting up meetings with both the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and current and former members of the Palestinian government.
  • He has highlighted climate change as a major issue of his campaign and has fought against it as mayor. Messam supports taking immediate action on climate change and the end goals of the Green New Deal proposal introduced in Congress earlier this year. As mayor, Messam signed on to a letter from 407 mayors opposing President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • Messam was under investigation for a possible inaccurate campaign filing during his 2015 mayoral campaign. Broward County officials investigated Messam for reportedly spending over $9,000 for campaign supplies and services provided by his businesses. In 2017, the county officials referred the case to the Florida Elections Commission, which has not yet made a decision public about the referral, according to reporting from the Center for Public Integrity.
  • Like a couple of his fellow Democratic presidential contenders, Messam played college football. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) played college football for Stanford, and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) was recruited to play quarterback at Youngstown State before he got hurt, but Messam arguably had the most football success of any candidate. Messam played wide receiver for Florida State and was part of their 1993 national championship team. After graduating college, Messam briefly signed to play professionally with the Cincinnati Bengals but never played a game.