County Mayoral Candidates War Over Anti-Zika Naled Spraying in Miami Beach

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

Just a few short months ago, only a few anti-mosquito wonks had ever heard of a pesticide called naled. But now, thanks to the onslaught of the Zika virus, the mosquito-killing compound has become the touchiest issue in Miami-Dade County since LeBron James' defection back to his hometown.

As activists debate everything short of an aerial assault to stop the county from wafting naled over South Beach, the Zika-fighting pesticide has now become a central issue in the simmering race for Miami-Dade County mayor between incumbent Carlos Gimenez and Miami-Dade County School Board member Raquel Regalado.

Gimenez has led the charge to fight SoBe's Zika outbreak with aerially sprayed naled, which is banned in the European Union and may cause toxic reactions in people who are overexposed. As protests mounted in South Beach against that effort, Regalado seized the moment.

"The men, women, children, and pets that live in Miami Beach are being exposed to extreme measures, aerial spraying of poisonous insecticides, because Carlos Gimenez believes he knows better than anyone else how to manage the crisis his negligence has compounded," Regaldo wrote in a lengthy missive on her Facebook page last night.  

Gimenez quickly hit back, calling Regalado "highly irresponsible" for riling up opposition to naled spraying.

The war of words between the candidates, who face a runoff election on the November ballot, is just the highest-profile piece of a brewing political war over how to fight Zika, though. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine backs Gimenez in his mayoral race. So it was no surprise to see Levine's most vocal opponent, Commissioner Michael Grieco, quickly jump in to back Regalado on naled.

"Consider this post my endorsement of Raquel Regalado," Grieco wrote on Facebook last night. "The current Mayor's decision to indiscriminately spray our city without seeking every less harmful alternative or asking for residents' consent is not something I can stand idly by and watch without taking action."

Despite all of the opposition — including another march down Lincoln Road by activists yesterday — naled spraying has already begun in South Beach. The first county planes wafted the chemical over the sea breezes at 5 a.m. today. 

The decision to use naled came after a confusing, poorly communicated about-face from city, state, and federal officials. When Zika first broke out in South Beach, the CDC said aerial spraying wouldn't be effective because of Miami Beach's tall condo towers and powerful ocean breezes. 

But last week, the county — with advice from Gov. Rick Scott and the CDC — decided to go ahead with spraying anyway. When a noisy opposition movement bombarded city officials with questions about the plan this past Wednesday, Gimenez agreed to delay the spraying by one day. But he says it's still necessary. 

"I thank the City of Miami Beach, residents, and visitors for their collaboration as we continue to do all we can to keep our community safe from the Zika virus," he said in a statement yesterday.

Regalado blasted that thinking in her message. She says that if Scott or the CDC wanted to order spraying, she would abide by that demand. But she says the county should keep its nose out of South Beach's Zika-fighting plans. 

"Gimenez has spent weeks blaming municipalities, the state, and the federal government for his failure to do his job. Showing up to conduct mosquito eradication operations in areas where multiple people have tested positive for Zika infection is too little, too late," she writes.

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.