The Commish

She's naive. She lacks experience. She's too "nice" to survive in Dade's policitical jungle. So why is Katy Sorenson so dangerous?

Since joining the commission, her impression hasn't changed much. "I don't want to come across as grandiose or above everyone else at all," she says. "I just think I am someone who wants to add a voice of reason, the voice of someone who wants to do the right thing, because that's what people want. But more than people wanting it, it's what we need. We need people who have integrity, who have ethics, who really want to move things forward for the greater good of the community.

"I'm so tired of all the cynicism. And I think everyone is. People are looking for leaders who aren't cynical. I think there are those of us around, and maybe there can be a renaissance. There are certainly a lot of things to solve in this community."

So far Sorenson has publicly addressed only a few of those problems, but already she says she is amazed that some commissioners assume her actions are motivated by something personal. For instance, following the debate about the contingency fund, Bruce Kaplan grabbed a member of Sorenson's staff in the hallway and demanded to know why Sorenson would personally attack him by challenging the Art Deco funding. Was this the start of some South Dade-Miami Beach feud, he wanted to know.

"I guess I'm pollyanna enough to think I can still have positive relationships with fellow commissioners and they will see that none of these things are personal," Sorenson says. "I really do weigh issues on the merits. I don't have vendettas against anyone. I just don't look at things that way."

When she opposed the exclusive HABDI development proposal -- arguing that it should be opened to competitive bidding -- the head of HABDI, Carlos Herrera, went on Spanish-language radio and suggested that Sorenson was a racist trying to take jobs away from minorities. William Delgado, executive director of the Latin Builders Association, wrote a letter to all commission members claiming that Sorenson's actions were "a direct attack to the Latin and African-American communities."

"I find it offensive," Sorenson retorts, "to make it an ethnic issue when it really isn't. For me it is an issue of good government. It is such a dishonest approach to say I'm trying to take work away from Hispanics. Yuck."

Despite her promising start, Sorenson's supporters still worry that somehow she will be seduced by power. "Maybe I'm being obtuse," she says in response, "but I don't feel any pressure to conform. I always ask myself, 'What is the worst that can happen?' I won't get re-elected. Okay, there are other things I can do. Nobody can take my family away from me. Nobody can take my children from me.

"I think I am one of the toughest people on this commission," she asserts. "I think I am very tough because I won't compromise on things I don't think should be compromised. I've always been told that politics is the art of the possible. Well, I don't believe that. I believe that politics is the art of the impossible. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be here. I'm an unabashed optimist and idealist. I always have been and I always will be.

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