Though Miami Beach’s recently selected City Manager only took office in April, his knowledge of the city stretches back to his childhood. To give residents an inside view of the new City Manager, Miami Beach News sat down with Jimmy Morales.
First and foremost, Mr. Morales is a homegrown success story; he is a product of its neighborhoods, parks system and public schools. After attending Harvard University for both his undergraduate and law degrees, Mr. Morales enjoyed success practicing international law in New York City. However, it was the connection to his roots and desire to give back that lead Mr. Morales to return to South Florida and serve in various roles of public service, including Miami Dade County Commissioner for eight years, and City Attorney in both Marathon and Doral while also building a successful law practice at Stearns, Weaver, Miller, Weissler, Alhadeff & Siterson, P.A. Mr. Morales, or Jimmy as he prefers to be called, is a remarkably compassionate human being and leader who many believe was destined to return to Miami Beach to help lead our community forward during this critical crossroad in our city’s future.
During the installation of Mr. Morales at the April City Commission meeting, he had an emotional reaction to being chosen for the post. Describing his selection, Mr. Morales stated, “This was a very special day to reconnect with this community and to achieve a dream. I’ve wanted to be a leader in a significant public institution and to be able to do that back in Miami Beach is just wonderful… When this opportunity emerged to reconnect with Miami Beach at a very exciting and challenging time, and to do so in an executive capacity where I could affect policy… to me, it seemed like a no brainer.” Jimmy is dedicated to the success of Miami Beach’s future and it is clear that the City is in very good hands. That being said, Mr. Morales has taken the helm at a particularly challenging time, with transformational projects underway, including the Convention Center renovation and redevelopment project bidding and selection process as well as union negotiations and many vacant posts to fill at city hall. Mr. Morales however, sees these challenges as opportunities.
As most know, in recent years, the City of Miami Beach has faced much scrutiny. Jimmy has a plan to combat this and change the public’s perception of city hall. In his mind, this change has a multifaceted approach, principally community outreach, improved internal regulation, increased responsiveness to the public and a trusted whistleblower policy. Jimmy aims to make Miami Beach a customer friendly city government, in which the people trust the administration and feel a genuine connection with the officials making policy decisions. He wishes to distance the City from any notion of an “ivory tower” disconnected from the reality of everyday life in Miami Beach. He spoke to his positive experiences growing up in Miami Beach with a strong community, exceptional Parks and Recreation department, top-notch public school system and dedicated civic organizations. His vision is to maintain the strong, committed community for which Miami Beach is known while continuing to grow the city economically. Strength of community is of utmost importance to Jimmy because the end goal is, in his words, “to produce good young people that want to come back to this place and keep making it special.” Having spent much of his childhood living in North Beach, one of his priorities looking forward is the economic redevelopment and perhaps rebranding of the North End.
On a personal note, Jimmy is the father of two wonderful children and husband of his supportive wife Dori, whom he first met at Miami Beach Senior High School. Jimmy’s roots are truly planted in Miami Beach; it is clear that our city holds a special place in his heart, but what is more, Jimmy has the professional experience and leadership capacity to lead the City of Miami Beach into the future, leaving behind the problems of the past and taking the City to new heights of efficiency, integrity, ingenuity and community involvement.
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