Up against entrenched interests supported by an organization he helped create, Damian Pardo defied the odds to win a seat on the Miami Commission.
“Our campaign began on the belief we could do better,” Pardo said. “We wanted to highlight the corruption and lack of transparency and undue influence of money that exists in the city.”
The victory makes Pardo, 61, the first out gay man elected to the Miami Commission, a historic achievement for the longtime community activist.
“It matters because when I was growing up I was told I was a pedophile and a pervert,” Pardo said. “When the AIDS crisis hit, I was called an abomination and was told AIDS was God’s wrath for my deviance. Just a few years ago, I would not have been electable as an openly gay candidate.”
Making Pardo’s victory sweeter was SAVE — Miami’s premier LGBTQ advocacy organization that he founded — endorsed Covo. A former journalist, Covo got the most votes among eight candidates in the first round and had the backing of the Florida Democratic Party.
In the runoff, Pardo hammered Covo on her connections to developers and silence in the face of rampant corruption on the commission.
“We showed how these monied interests are pitted against residents’ needs,” Pardo said. “We fought hard for a better day in Miami. Today marks the beginning of that change.”