Wayne Messam

Wayne Messam

Mayor of Miramar, Florida

Wayne Messam has withdrawn his candidacy.

Wayne Messam is serving his second term as mayor of Miramar, Florida, a position he has held since 2015. He has backed gun control and a higher minimum wage, and has refused to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. A central pledge of his presidential campaign is to cancel the more than $1.5 trillion in U.S. student debt. 

He was elected Miramar’s city commissioner in 2011 and before that ran his own construction business. The son of Jamaican immigrants, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in 1997.

China

Messam cites China as a major challenger to the United States and says that he has “fought to bring manufacturing jobs back” from the country.

  • Messam emphasizes that an emerging “long term rivalry” with China will be one of the major foreign policy challenges for the next president, and he says he would “rebuild our fractured alliances” to address it. 
  • He says his city has created a business-friendly environment, where manufacturing firms prefer to “stay and grow instead of leaving for China.”

Climate and Energy

Confronting climate change is one of Messam’s primary issues. He points to his experience building climate-resilient infrastructure in Florida, and says that a changing climate is an existential threat not only for other coastal regions, but for the entire country. 

  • Messam supports the Paris Agreement, from which President Donald J. Trump withdrew. Messam was one of more than four hundred mayors who signed a 2017 open letter promising to uphold the U.S. commitments to the deal.
  • He promises a climate plan that “will rival the New Deal in scope.” He would consider instituting a carbon tax, saying that in his administration “all options will remain on the table.” He calls for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and for that money to go to renewable energies instead.
  • He is opposed to expanding nuclear power, which he calls “too much of a risky investment,” citing the potential for accidents caused by extreme weather.
  • He says he would end fossil fuel leases on public land and supports phasing out U.S. fossil fuel exports. 
  • He opposed the construction of new oil wells in the Everglades, arguing that it would put drinking water at risk. He also says he supports a ban on fracking. 

Counterterrorism

Messam’s comments on terrorism have focused on the threat of domestic gun violence and the spread of hate groups.

  • As mayor, he has pushed for stricter gun laws that would expand background checks for purchasing firearms, which Messam says “would prevent terrorists from gaining access to guns.”
  • He says he would direct law enforcement to “remove” weapons from people on the FBI’s terrorist watch list. 

Cybersecurity and Digital Policy

Messam has not issued specific proposals on cybersecurity issues, though he warns that the U.S. economy must prepare for rapid technological change.

  • He argues that the U.S. workforce must focus on training for emerging industries rather than traditional jobs “that will be replaced by artificial intelligence.”

Defense

Messam has issued no policy proposals on military spending or other defense issues, but warns about an overreliance on military power to the exclusion of other approaches. 

  • He says that “military might alone” cannot restore U.S. leadership in the world, which he contends Trump has undermined with his “short-sighted thinking.”
  • He identifies the United States’ primary national security challenges as a resurgent Russia, a growing rivalry with China, and the spread of nuclear weapons.

Diplomacy and Foreign Aid

Messam criticizes Trump for abandoning U.S. global leadership and promises to restore an emphasis on diplomacy.

  • He says Trump’s “short-sighted thinking” and lack of support for traditional U.S. allies has led the U.S. standing in the world to “decay.” 
  • He says he would “restore respect for all people and all faiths” and work to “rebuild our fractured alliances.”

Economic Policy

Messam has centered his economic policies on canceling student debt, which he says will make the U.S. economy more competitive, and reversing tax cuts championed by Trump. 

  • Messam criticizes the 2017 tax reform, which cut both corporate and individual rates, as a tax break for big corporations and the wealthy. He says reversing it would be “at the top of my agenda.”
  • His economic plan cites his policies as mayor of Miramar, including raising the minimum wage. He supports a nationwide minimum-wage increase, and says he will invest in entrepreneurs and make it a federal priority to “put Americans to work in high-paying jobs.” 
  • He has released a detailed plan to cancel U.S. student debt, which now stands at more than $1.5 trillion. He says this debt is a drag on the economy and is preventing younger workers from buying houses, forming families, and starting businesses.
  • He says that, after forgiveness, he would reform the national student loan system to lower college costs and encourage enrollment at community colleges and technical schools. 
  • He warns that U.S. infrastructure is “crumbling” and pledges to “rebuild this nation” and “put people to work in the process.”

Immigration

The son of Jamaican immigrants, Messam defends immigration as central to American identity. He supports comprehensive immigration reform, and as mayor he has opposed many federal immigration policies. 

  • Messam says his first immigration action would be to seek legislation to give citizenship to Dreamers, undocumented residents who were brought to the country as children. 
  • He also calls for comprehensive immigration reform that would provide a “fair and orderly” pathway to citizenship for the estimated eleven million undocumented residents in the United States.
  • He says he would “work with our neighbors to our southern border” to deal with the issues causing an “exodus” of Central Americans. 
  • He says Trump’s “divisive rhetoric” against immigrants has created a “constant state of fear,” and he criticizes Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for its “abusive” and “degrading” treatment of detained migrants.
  • As mayor, Messam has opposed federal immigration efforts, directing Miramar to not enforce immigration laws and pushing for a “safe zone” program to protect undocumented residents from ICE raids.

Middle East

Messam cites a “lack of peace in the Middle East” as a central foreign policy issue and says his administration would make stabilizing the region “a high priority.” 

  • Messam says that under Trump “we are witnessing the decline of America’s ability to lead in the Middle East.”
  • He calls Israel the United States’ “closest ally in the Middle East,” and says that Washington must become an “honest broker” to help negotiate an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 
  • He opposed Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, arguing that it should have been part of negotiations, but he doesn’t commit to moving it back.
  • He pledges to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, from which Trump withdrew. He argues that it created “a strong coalition of allies to hold Iran accountable.”

North Korea

Messam has issued no policy proposals addressing North Korea, where Trump has initiated unprecedented direct talks with Pyongyang, but he warns about “the spread of nuclear weapons.”

Russia

Messam has said that Russia is a major challenge for the United States, though he has issued no policy proposals regarding U.S.-Russia relations.

  • Messam emphasizes that “a resurgent Russia” will be one of the major foreign policy challenges for the next president and says he would “rebuild our fractured alliances” to address it.

Trade

Messam has focused little on trade policy. He touts Miramar’s fast economic growth, says he “fought to bring manufacturing jobs back from China,” and pledges to prevent jobs from moving overseas.

  • He has said that expanding trade relationships with Central American countries could help strengthen their economies and reduce the flow of asylum seekers to the United States.

Venezuela and Latin America

Messam opposes the government of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, saying he hopes for free and fair elections. He calls for more U.S. aid for the country’s people and more diplomacy with other Latin American countries.

  • Messam calls Maduro a “dictator” but stops short of backing U.S. intervention. He says providing relief to the Venezuelan people is his “foremost concern.”
  • He says he would “work with our neighbors to our southern border” to deal with the issues causing an “exodus” of Central Americans. 
  • He supports the lifting of restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba implemented under President Barack Obama and later reversed by Trump. 
  • He backs statehood for Puerto Rico, currently a U.S. territory, arguing that “there is no good reason for them to continue to be treated as second-class citizens.”

This project was made possible in part by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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