Manny Cid is a Miami Lakes town councilmen and has been a legislative aid for the Florida House of Representatives for the past seven years. He is no stranger to government — both on a small and large scale. In recognition of his hard work, Cid was recently honored with the Home Rule Hero Award: 

Each year, the Florida League of Cities recognizes legislators who worked closely with the League’s advocacy team and showed strong and consistent support of municipal home rule issues with the Legislative Appreciation Award. The highest tribute, the Defender of Home Rule Award, is reserved for those legislators who consistently defended local government authority. In addition, the League’s advocacy team would not be successful without the support of local government officials who consistently respond to the League’s request to reach out to members of the Legislature and help give a local perspective to an issue. The League presents these individuals with the Home Rule Hero Award.

Cid has made a phenomenal impact in Miami Lakes with Home Rule. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in all communities across Florida. Writing for The Pensacola News Journal, Cid gives an inside look at Home Rule within the Florida legislative system:

Local government is where regular citizens have the greatest opportunity to help their neighbors through service in public office. And it is also where those neighbors enjoy the best chance of reaching out to their elected officials, of having their voice heard by officeholders who may literally be their neighbors…“Home rule” may sound like some lofty term, but what it really means is leaving local decisions in the hands of local officials.

Cid presents a perfect example of a local and state government functioning symbiotically, while still maintaining a level of mutual independence.

That is, of course, how it should be. And for more than 40 years, the concept of home rule has been enshrined in the Florida Constitution, which says municipalities “may exercise any power for municipal purposes except as otherwise provided by law.”

However, it remains up to the Legislature to determine what exceptions are “provided by law.” And lately, it seems our state lawmakers are leaving less and less authority in the lands of local officials.

There are many examples of the Legislature trying to pre-empt the appropriate authority of local elected officials. It has happened many times on a wide range of issues, from local election dates to public safety issues to zoning. It would be easy to write this off as just a petty turf war — a local official objecting to the state taking away a piece of local authority. But there is so much more at stake here than that.

He’s right. Writing off the little issues is what eventually allows the government to take advantage of the bigger issues.

Local authority is the very essence of self-government, and it’s vitally important that local officials maintain jurisdiction over fundamental decisions that affect the residents of their communities, especially pertaining to public safety and quality of life issues.

Legislators have plenty to deal with in true state issues. There is no need for them to pre-empt the authority of local officials, interfering with decisions that rightly should be made at the community level by those closest to the people being affected.

I wholeheartedly agree with Thomas Jefferson, who observed: “That government is best which is closest to the people.” 

People like Cid represent the best of self-governance. The future success of our country remains in out ability and determination to govern according to the Constitution.