Commissioner Higgins

Downtown’s Own Luminary

The first Downtowner Spotlight featured was Eileen Higgins, then a regular citizen or maybe not that regular, as not many of us devote so much time and energy to the betterment of the community. It was her educational activities that caught our attention, her digital marketing classes for small business owners. “That’s how we create high-paying jobs, by enabling entrepreneurs to grow their businesses,” said Eileen Higgins one year ago.

Months later, in a bold move that many augured ending not too well, Eileen Higgins ran for a seat at the Miami-Dade Commission. And there went this lady with the last name so difficult to pronounce for the predominantly Spanish-speaking electorate that soon she became La Gringa. Her message of unity in a time of polarization, her commitment to human values and issues that affect people across-the-board made her a favorite. I asked a constituent: Why are you voting for her? “No posturing with La Gringa,” she said,” “and she speaks Spanish to my mother.”

Downtown resident, Commissioner Eileen Higgins. Photo, Niels Johansen.

She won. We don’t have enough space to enumerate all the Commissioner has achieved in her brief tenure. Suffice to point out one example. Downtown parks are under a constant threat. The latest, a proposal to build an amusement park in Bayfront Park. Commissioner Higgins took time from her busy schedule and appeared before the City Commission to deliver a thoughtful plea — residents need their green spaces. And reason prevailed.

Commissioner Higgins reminisced about the beginnings of Downtown NEWS, and briefly assessed the state of local news. “We all know newspapers, under heavy online competition, to make ends meet have been cutting local coverage, and community issues go underreported or not reported.”

Considering how vital an informed electorate is for democracy, how should we address this local news desert? “People, citizens, have to determine how valuable local news outlets are for them and do something about it. That is what the DNA did, downtown residents decided to create their own newspaper, to allocate funds to run a publication. Downtown residents chose to be informed and engaged through their hyper-local Downtown News... An example of a community taking action, creating a publication that is newsworthy but also fun and social…”

Last month, the world celebrated the importance of women in history, and we echo that spirit of admiration and respect to spotlight one of our own ladies, downtown resident Eileen Higgins.

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