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Wayne Messam

Mayor (Miramar, FL) - At-Large (2015 - Present)

Messam in the news

July 15, 2019: Messam spoke about his presidential campaign and uneven media coverage on The Breakfast Club.

July 14, 2019: Messam spoke at the Second Nazareth Baptist Church in South Carolina.

July 13, 2019: Messam hosted a meet and greet in South Carolina.

July 4, 2019: Messam hosted a fireworks show in Miramar, Florida.

July 1, 2019: Messam pitched his presidential campaign in an interview with WCJB.

Quick Facts
Personal Details

Wayne Messam is a former Democratic candidate for president of the United States in 2020. He announced the formation of an exploratory committee on March 13, 2019. He suspended his presidential campaign on November 20, 2019.

Messam was first elected mayor of Miramar, Florida, in 2015. He won re-election in 2019.

Messam grew up in South Bay, Florida, in 1974. He attended Florida State University on full academic and athletic scholarships and was a member of the 1993 National Championship Football Team. Messam graduated with a bachelor's degree in management information systems in 1997.

Messam is a licensed general contractor. In 2003, he and his wife Angela founded Messam Construction, which specializes in commercial construction and has provided services for federal and local governments and private companies.

Messam served on the City of Miramar Commission from 2011 to 2015. He was elected with 38 percent of the vote in a three-way race. In the 2015 mayoral election, he defeated incumbent Mayor Lori Moseley, again winning 38 percent of the vote in a three-way race. He was re-elected in 2019 with 86 percent support against one challenger. Miramar had a population of around 150,000 in 2019.

Messam previously served as president of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials. He also chaired the Broward County Small Business Development Advisory Board.

Education

  • BA, Management Information Systems, Florida State University, 1997

Professional Experience

  • BA, Management Information Systems, Florida State University, 1997
  • General Contractor, Messam Construction, 2003-present

Political Experience

  • BA, Management Information Systems, Florida State University, 1997
  • General Contractor, Messam Construction, 2003-present
  • Mayor, City of Miramar, Florida, 2015-present
  • Candidate, President of the United States, 2020
  • Commissioner, City of Miramar, Florida, 2011-2015

Current Legislative Committees

No committee memberships found.

Religious, Civic, and other Memberships

  • BA, Management Information Systems, Florida State University, 1997
  • General Contractor, Messam Construction, 2003-present
  • Mayor, City of Miramar, Florida, 2015-present
  • Candidate, President of the United States, 2020
  • Commissioner, City of Miramar, Florida, 2011-2015
  • Member, 100 Black Men of South Florida
  • Member, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated
  • Former Chair, Broward County Small Business Development Advisory Board
  • Trustee, Crockett Foundation
  • Trustee, Florida State University Foundation
  • Member/Deacon, Fountain Church
  • President, National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials
Elections

2020

Presidency

An election for president of the United States will be held on November 3, 2020. Messam announced the formation of an exploratory committee on March 13, 2019. He suspended his presidential campaign on November 20, 2019.

Policy Positions

2020

Abortion

Do you generally support pro-choice or pro-life legislation?
- Pro-choice

Budget

1. In order to balance the budget, do you support an income tax increase on any tax bracket?
- Yes

2. Do you support expanding federal funding to support entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare?
- Yes

Education

Do you support requiring states to adopt federal education standards?
- Unknown Position

Energy & Environment

1. Do you support the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions?
- Yes

2. Do you support government funding for the development of renewable energy (e.g. solar, wind, geo-thermal)?
- Yes

Guns

Do you generally support gun-control legislation?
- Yes

Health Care

Do you support repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare")?
- Unknown Position

Campaign Finance

Do you support the regulation of indirect campaign contributions from corporations and unions?
- Yes

Economy

1. Do you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?
- Unknown Position

2. Do you support lowering corporate taxes as a means of promoting economic growth?
- No

Immigration

1. Do you support the construction of a wall along the Mexican border?
- No

2. Do you support requiring immigrants who are unlawfully present to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship?
- No

National Security

1. Should the United States use military force to prevent governments hostile to the U.S. from possessing a weapon of mass destruction (for example: nuclear, biological, chemical)?
- Unknown Position

2. Do you support reducing military intervention in Middle East conflicts?
- Unknown Position

Trade

Do you generally support removing barriers to international trade (for example: tariffs, quotas, etc.)?
- Unknown Position

Defense

Do you support increasing defense spending?
- Unknown Position

Speeches
Articles

Wayne Messam’s 2020 presidential campaign and policies, explained

Jul. 2, 2019

Mayor Wayne Messam’s bid is a long shot. But he believes he has the résumé and ideas voters want in a president. By Sean Collins | VOX Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam addresses a crowd at the South Carolina Democratic Party State Convention in June 2019. Sean Rayford/Getty Image Wayne Messam, the mayor of Miramar, Florida, is running for president. He entered the crowded Democratic primary field in March and has pitched himself as an experienced outsider, telling voters, “I do not believe that the best ideas come from Washington.” This is a message that seems to resonate with some Democrats; businessman Andrew Yang and spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson lack the Washington connections of many of the candidates in primary but have nevertheless built a support base. Messam, however, has not been as successful, and has failed to meet the qualifications required for the Democratic debates. Messam has said he instead plans to spend time on the ground building grassroots support. But a June Des Moines Register/CNN poll of Iowa voters found not a single respondent said they planned to support Messam’s bid. Nevertheless, he remains optimistic, posting his progress in South Carolina polls on Instagram and telling the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “Where I am able to get my message out, I’m able to get some traction.” Like other progressives in the race, Messam wants to tackle climate change, expand access to health care, provide a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, and protect abortion rights. Like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, he would like to end the filibuster, and he has called for getting rid of the electoral college. Messam also has a very detailed plan for erasing student debt. And he has made gun reform a key issue both as mayor and on the trail. Who is Wayne Messam? Another Democratic candidate for president — Beto O’Rourke — took flak for telling a magazine he was born to run. Messam might actually have been, but in a more literal way. A talented athlete, he helped his college football team at Florida State University win a national championship as a star wide receiver and has made running a part of his campaign: He can be seen dashing through sugar cane fields in his announcement video and has posted images of himself with other runners from the campaign trail.   When it comes to running for office, Messam has managed to eke out victories in tight races in a swing state like Florida. Entering politics from his perch as a local entrepreneur (he started a construction company with his wife), Messam beat his closest opponent in his race for a seat on Miramar’s city commission by a little over 1 percent (just 33 votes). He won his mayoral seat in 2015 by four points, beating a 16-year incumbent and becoming Miramar’s first black mayor. By 2019, however, he seemed to have proved himself to his constituents — he was reelected in a landslide, winning 86 percent of the vote. As mayor, Messam has made gun reform and bringing new jobs to Miramar top priorities. He’s worked to make Miramar a sanctuary city and was one of the leaders of an effort to stop the construction of a new oil well in a section of the Everglades near Miramar. Messam has made the case that his time as mayor of a fairly diverse city has given him the executive experience he needs to be president. His track record may sound similar to South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has rocketed to the middle tier of candidates while Messam has simply lagged. But his closest analogue might be fellow candidate and former San Antonio mayor Julián Castro. Like San Antonio, Miramar’s chief executive is technically a city manager appointed by its city council. This means Messam does not have the same power over policy or decision making that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio — another primary candidate — has, for example. Castro has argued that mayors of cities with city managers would make better presidents because advancing their agenda requires negotiation and diplomacy to convince those that actually do have the power to change policy. Messam has yet to explicitly make this case; however, he does often highlight the teams he has brought together. He was, for instance, one of the leaders of the coalition lobbying against an Everglades oil extraction project and he helped lead a group of Florida lawmakers in a lawsuit challenging a state gun law. Wayne Messam’s key policy proposals, briefly explained Messam embraces most of the ideas championed by the Democratic primary’s progressives (although he does not support a version of Medicare-for-all that would do away with private insurance). He does stand out, however, on two issues: student debt and gun control. 1) Student debt Messam unveiled his plan to tackle student debt in a long and detailed white paper. It is by far his most fleshed-out proposal, but its crux is simple: Messam proposes forgiving everyone’s student debt. Federal loans would be forgiven and private loans would be paid by the federal government. Messam projects this would cost $1.5 trillion, and he wants to pay that cost by increasing payroll taxes for companies with more than 50 employees by 0.5 percent and by reversing Donald Trump’s signature 2017 corporate tax cuts. He argues that this plan would also stimulate the economy, as he feels those relieved of their debts will use the funds they once used for their monthly loan repayments to invest in homes, businesses, and further education. As this would be a one-time cancellation, Messam wants to ensure the debts tomorrow’s students take on are more manageable by increasing federal Pell Grant money and by expanding free community college programs. 2) Gun control Reforming gun laws has been a central issue for Messam as mayor, and it is an issue he advocates for on the trail as well. Prior to launching his White House bid, Messam was perhaps best known in his state for a lawsuit he and other Florida elected officials brought against the state’s governor that pushed for changes to a 2011 state law that limits local governments’ ability to regulate firearms. Under that law, any local body that even attempts to enforce stricter gun laws than are on the state books could face $100,000 in fines, and that municipality’s mayor could personally face $5,000 in fines as well as removal from office by the governor. This law has complicated efforts to reform gun laws on the local level in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, and have arrested Messam’s push to create a gun-free zone in and around a Miramar amphitheater. The mayor has said mass shootings like the one at Stoneman Douglas — which is in the same school district as Miramar’s public schools — concern him and his constituents like nothing else. “We get phone calls every day: ‘What are you going to do about it? It happened in Parkland. It could happen in Miramar,’” he told the Miami Herald. Because of this, he has said, “When I’m president, it will be the No. 1 priority for my administration to prevent mass shootings.” To do this, he proposes restrictions on firearm access. He does not propose taking away everyone’s guns, but he does want to empower law enforcement officials to thoroughly ensure people suffering from mental illness, people on national security watch lists, and those with records of domestic abuse cannot access firearms in any way. Wayne Messam at a Miami Gardens rally.  Joe Raedle/Getty Images Messam knows he’s struggling to gain traction, but remains hopeful Messam is aware he is a long-shot candidate. He has expressed frustration on social media at “not getting a CNN town hall ... where millions of Americans can see my campaign,” but clearly remains optimistic about the next few months, captioning Instagram posts with messages like “our momentum is gaining” and “Never deprive your burning desire to do the impossible. For if you do, the Impossible will be just that!” His message is simple: He is tenacious, he is from outside Washington, he has big ideas, and he has successes under his belt. He is behind, but believes he can still come out on top. He’s probably not well-positioned to win over voters in such a crowded field. But then again, Donald Trump is president.    

Wayne Messam: Money Kept Me Out of the First Democratic Debate. Will It Keep Me Out of the Second?

Jun. 25, 2019

By Wayne Messam | Fortune Wayne Messam is the mayor of Miramar and a Democratic candidate for president. As I attempt to qualify for the second Democratic presidential debate in July—after not doing so for the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) first debate this week—I want to shed light on a perspective many may not have considered when it comes to meeting the DNC’s requirements as a lesser-known candidate. The truth is that you have to be rich or a national figure to meet the DNC’s twin demands of demonstrating polling and donor progress. As a son of Jamaican immigrants whose father cut sugarcane as a contract farmworker for over a decade and whose mother was a cook who fed those migrant workers out in the fields, the odds have always been against me growing up in rural South Bay, Fla. Now, as the mayor of Miramar, Fla., I am leading a culturally diverse and progressive city where a number of Fortune 500 companies have regional offices. Despite my accomplishments, I don’t have a fair shot to qualify under the current system. To better understand how this is, we have to look at the specific challenges that candidates like me face. First, congressional candidates can transfer millions of dollars in their federal campaign accounts over to their presidential campaign. As a mayor whose campaign is three months old, current rules don’t allow any transfer of our local accounts to a federal campaign. I have to start from scratch, putting myself at a significant disadvantage compared to candidates who have already transferred millions to their presidential campaign accounts. The next challenge is inequitable and biased media coverage. This election cycle has seen the popularity of nationally televised town halls. This platform has proven to be invaluable for lesser-known candidates. It provides exposure to millions of Americans, instantly making a candidate a household name and allowing them to earn supporters and donors overnight. A perfect example is the attention given to my peer, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind. I have nothing against Mayor Pete. He has an amazing story and it deserves to be heard. However, many Americans didn’t know him before his successful nationally televised town hall on CNN. When you compare my candidacy to his, I too have a unique story and successes in my city that are transferable nationally. So, why have my town hall requests not been granted? Miramar is larger and more culturally diverse than South Bend. Florida is a battleground, must-win state. Other candidates who launched their campaigns after me, many of them white men, have been granted nationally televised town halls. I am convinced that had I been given a town hall, where millions of Americans could have learned about my improbable life story, perhaps I would have been in a better position to meet the DNC’s donor and polling requirements. Does bias or privilege play a role? I can’t answer that question. All I can say is that I have not been granted the same treatment, but am being held to the same expectations as my fellow candidates. Despite these inequities, I now have reached the 1% threshold in two national polls, and I will continue to press forward. But this nation must seriously look at an election system that puts some candidates at a financial advantage over others, and a media industry that selectively features candidates on TV while denying others the same opportunity. The American people deserve to have access to as many qualified candidates as possible, not only the ones who can afford to buy name recognition or who already have it.    

Florida Mayor Wayne Messam announces 2020 presidential bid

Mar. 22, 2019

By Dan Merica, CNN (CNN) — Wayne Messam, the little-known mayor of Miramar, Florida, announced Thursday that he is running for president, launching a campaign that will look to accomplish the unlikely: Turning the mayor of the 140,000-person town into the next president of the United States. Messam, in a highly produced video released to CNN, tells voters that he is running for president and rails against what he calls a "broken" federal government in Washington, DC. "When you have a senior citizen who can't afford her prescription medicine, Washington is broken. When our scientists are telling us if we don't make drastic changes today, the quality of our air will be in peril, Washington is broken," Messam says in the video. "Everyday people are graduating from universities with crippling debt stifling their opportunity for financial mobility, that is what's broken with this country." He adds: "America belongs to all of us. The promise of America belongs to all of us. That's why I'm going to be running for president. To be your champion." In an interview on CNN "New Day" announcing his bid, Messam said America needs "the leadership that will make these issues a priority and have the political will to solve these issues for the American people." He pointed to Miramar's fast growing economy and argued that his city passed a living wage. Messam's entrance into the race, two weeks after he launched an exploratory committee, makes him the longest of longshots in an already crowded field of Democrats -- including more than a handful of senators -- vying to take on President Donald Trump in 2020. Messam, a 44-year-old African American Democrat who has led Miramar since 2015, is not the only mayor in the race, given South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is pursuing a bid, as are Julian Castro, formerly the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, and Cory Booker, formerly the mayor of Newark, New Jersey. In a nod to the fact that Messam is largely unknown outside of South Florida, the video focuses extensively on the mayor's personal story, noting that his parents immigrated to the United States from Jamaica, his father worked as a contract sugar cane cutter in Florida and, through their work, he went on to play on the national championship winning Florida State University football team in 1993. "You know, I can see him looking around in these fields envisioning that his children would be successful one day and they wouldn't have to suffer the way to he suffered," Messam says in the video, which was produced by Seven Knots Productions. "I'm passionate about the American Dream because it's not a fictitious thing for me it's real for me." "I'm the son of immigrants. My father came to this country from Jamaica ... chasing the American dream, and I'm living that American dream. But I see that American dream slipping away for a lot of Americans," Messam told "New Day." The Democrat, who currently owns a construction business with his wife, also talks in the video about being Miramar's first black mayor and getting to this place in life after growing up in "The Muck," an area around Lake Okeechobee where sugar cane grows. A campaign spokesman tells CNN that Messam's decision to announce on March 28 is also significant: It is the anniversary of what is known as Martin Luther King Jr.'s final march, when King marched with sanitation workers who were on strike in Memphis. In an interview with CNN ahead of his decision to announce an exploratory committee, Messam acknowledge the longshot odds of his candidacy. "I see it to be a unique opportunity for Americans to look at another option of leadership," he said. "When you look at what is going on in Washington, the status quo is who is stepping up to be our next president. ... When you look at a mayor, Americans see mayors favorably. We are at the front line of what Americans are dealing with every day." Messam traveled to South Carolina earlier this month as part of his 2020 exploration and, according to a campaign spokeswoman, the mayor plans to travel back to South Carolina and make a trip to Nevada in the coming weeks. The repeat trips to South Carolina are going to be a staple of Messam's campaign, aides say, because the mayor believes his best path to victory is by consolidating the largely African American vote in the state to show viability. Cory Alpert, a South Carolina resident who has been talking to Messam, said that the voters in the state have yet to coalesce around a front runner and that the state is wide open. "Obviously he is a dark house, it is a longshot campaign," he said. "But I discredit anyone who says they know what is going to happen in the next year. It is the kind of year where someone can come out of nowhere." Messam, who played wide receiver for Florida State, also plans to lean on his connections to athletes to raise money and support as he mounts his longshot campaign. That includes, according to the Messam campaign, former Jacksonville Jaguars running back Fred Taylor and journeyman fullback Zack Crockett. Messam is progressive on guns, immigration and the environment, and he supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. The mayor was part of a group that sued the state of Florida in 2018 over a law that restricted his ability to create municipal gun regulations after the mayor wanted a new amphitheater in his city to be a "gun-free venue." Messam has also pushed back against Trump's immigration proposals and, in 2017, he proposed requiring immigration officials have a warrant to enter city-owned buildings and some schools. "We want to make sure that our parents at least, regardless of their immigration status, that is one less fear that they have -- in regards to the prospect of their child being disrupted due to what we have seen going on across the country," Messam said at the time. On the environment, Messam signed on to a letter from more than 400 mayors that rebuked Trump for leaving the Paris Climate Accord.