May 20, 2020
Leadership During Crisis: Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts (R) and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez joined Washington Post national political reporter Robert Costa for back-to-back conversations about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in their communities.
Highlights
Nebraska is one of seven states that did not issue a stay-at-home order. When asked whether he would consider a stay-at-home order in the future, Gov. Ricketts said he doesn’t think it would be necessary, adding the state is using other measures like hospital capacity to make its decisions. ‘Go back two months ago, nobody talked about cases, nobody talked about deaths, what they talked about was preserving our hospital system, so we built our whole plan around that.’
  • May 20
Nearly 1 out of every 6 cases of COVID-19 in Nebraska has been tied to meatpacking plants. When asked how he would hold meatpacking plants accountable for workplace conditions without issuing formal recommendations or executive orders from the state, Gov. Pete Ricketts said the state of Nebraska doesn’t have a regulatory role in insuring workplace safety. ‘We already have a whole regulatory scheme in place to manage workplaces. It’s called OSHA, and so, that’s a federal government role.’
  • May 20
Nebraska is slated to implement an expansion of its Medicaid plan in October. When asked whether he would consider moving up the date, Gov. Pete Ricketts said, “The challenge is we have to have CMS approval to do that…Ultimately, what that would do if we were to try and change plans now, given that we are going to start taking applications Aug. 1, it would likely delay that date passed Aug. 1.”
  • May 20
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez says beaches and hotels in the area will remain closed through Memorial Day weekend. ‘We’ve seen in beaches throughout the U.S., for whatever reason, people just not respecting the rules, and it’s very difficult to police and patrol. You just don’t have the manpower to be able to patrol that amount of land mass, where people are just not following the rules.’
  • May 20
Hurricane season begins June 1, and predictions indicate it will be active. When asked how Miami is preparing for hurricane season amid the coronavirus pandemic, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said the city is doing its usual preparations and making sure it can meet the needs of residents. ‘We are doing what we do during hurricane season, but we’re layering on top of that the additional rules and regulations that we’ve placed on our residents throughout this pandemic.’
  • May 20
Currently, residents in Miami, Florida, are encouraged, but not required, to wear masks while out in public, but Mayor Francis Suarez said he would consider making it an order if he believed it was necessary. ‘A lot of this is behavior driven...We’re hoping our citizens take the path of responsibility, so that we can continue on a downward trajectory and meet the criteria for Phase Two. But if they take to path of irresponsibility, we certainly are willing to make some adjustments.’
  • May 20
When asked if he has felt any pressure from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to speed up Miami’s timeline for reopening, Mayor Francis Suarez said he has not, commending Gov. DeSantis for giving the city the space to make its own decisions. “In terms of supporting our decisions, when we open and how we open, we’ve had total flexibility.”
  • May 20
Full Interviews
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts (R) joined Washington Post national political reporter Robert Costa to discuss the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in his state.
  • May 20
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez joined Washington Post national political reporter Robert Costa to discuss the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on his city.
  • May 20
Gov. Pete Ricketts
Nebraska Governor (R)
Governor Pete Ricketts was sworn in as Nebraska’s 40th Governor on January 8, 2015 and reelected to a second term in November 2018. Over the past five years, Governor Ricketts has worked with the Legislature to deliver over $1.4 billion in direct property tax relief, dramatically reduce the rate of state spending growth, create new workforce development programming, cut unnecessary red tape to bolster Nebraska’s business-friendly climate, and expand international markets for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers. Thanks in part to the Governor’s leadership, Nebraska won the Governor’s Cup for the most economic development projects per capita three years in a row from 2016 to 2018. President Donald J. Trump has appointed Governor Ricketts to serve on the Council of Governors and the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. Driven by a desire to give back to his community and create education and job opportunities, Governor Ricketts has taken on leadership roles in local and state associations and organizations. Currently, he serves on the board of the Mid-America Council of the Boy Scouts, as a director of the Nebraska Game and Parks Foundation, a member of the Board of Advisors of Opportunity Education Foundation, a member of the Archbishop’s Committee for Development, a member of the Knights of Columbus, and a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre. Governor Ricketts and his family attend St. Margaret Mary’s church.
Mayor Francis Suarez
Miami, Florida
Prior to being elected with 86 percent support from Miami residents, Mayor Suarez served as Miami Commissioner for District 4 during eight years. Mayor Suarez had many legislative accomplishments as Commissioner, including implementing ShotSpotter technology in the City, a state-of-the-art gunshot detection system, setting up a transportation trust fund, which allocates funds for current and future transit projects, and passing the Reverse Redline legislation, authorizing lawsuits against several major banks for discriminatory mortgage lending practices. As a result, the City’s lawsuit reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that cities have standing to sue banks under the Fair Housing Act for such discriminatory practices. Mayor Suarez also serves as Chair of the Environment Committee, as well as on the Advisory Board of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In these capacities, Mayor Suarez takes a leading role in collaborating with fellow mayors from around the country to preserve the environment and develop programs and policies that directly benefit the City of Miami. Mayor Suarez is married to Gloria Fonts Suarez. They have a son, Andrew Xavier, and a daughter, Gloriana Pilar. They consider themselves honored and blessed to be raising their family in the City of Miami.
Interviewed by Robert Costa
National Political Reporter, The Washington Post
About Washington Post Live
Washington Post Live is the newsroom’s live journalism platform. Top-level government and business leaders, emerging voices and newsmakers discuss the most pressing national and global issues of the day.