Eight candidates, some well known to voters, vying for two seats on the Miami Beach Commission


Two Miami Beach Commission seats are up for grabs on Tuesday, when voters head to the polls to decide who they want to succeed the outgoing commissioners Mickey steinberg and Michael gongora.

A third competition which would have opposed the outgoing commissioner Marc Samuelian against the challenger Fabian Basabe was canceled after Basabe was disqualified, allowing Sameulian to win by default.

The remaining two races feature four candidates and a few names that should be familiar to the locals. If no candidate in a race obtains more than 50% of the vote, the two candidates who receive the most votes in each will face each other in the second round on November 16.

Miami Beach Commission Group 1

With Steinberg leaving to chase the limited-time Miami-Dade County Commission seat Sally Heyman next year, the former Miami Beach commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, owner of a local business Raquel Pacheco, restaurateur Adrien González and industrial sales entrepreneur Blake Young are fighting to succeed him.

All have appeared before the Commission before, only one successfully, and all suggested strengthening the police presence in the South Beach entertainment district instead of rolling back the last booze call from 5 a.m. to 2 am, a cure. Dan Gelber and former mayor Philippe levine defended vocal opposition.

Rosen Gonzalez, 48, is a real estate agent and professor in the English and Communication Department at Miami Dade College. She was elected to the Miami Beach Commission in 2015 but left his seat three years later for a failed congressional candidacy.

While she’s certainly a household name among Miami Beach voters, she brings her fair share of baggage. She has sparked controversy on several occasions during her public service career, including engaging in quarrels with other commissioners, interfering with a Miami Beach Police investigation into a major donor to his congressional campaign and a goof last month in which she claimed to be “the city of Miami’s most prominent Hispanic Democrat” although she was not actually Hispanic. (Her ex-husband is.)

She leads the field in fundraising, with approximately $ 82,000 raised since entering the race in July.

Pacheco, 47, is a former member of the Connecticut Army National Guard who now runs a translation company. Her first candidacy for public office came in 2019, when she fell for the post of Group 5 Commissioner. Ricky ariola.

Pacheco secured the support of a reproductive rights group Ruth’s List Florida, Save LGBT Action PAC, the Miami-Dade Democratic Party and the Florida branch of the Service Employees International Union.

Former Democratic Representative of the United States Donna Shalala and curator of Miami Beach David Richardson – who both got more votes than Rosen Gonzalez in the 2018 congressional race – also endorsed it, as did the state senator. Annette Taddeo.

But his questionable budget prowess may give voters pause for thought. She has twice filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, most recently in 2017.

Pacheco has raised more than $ 54,000 since she started campaigning in May.

Gonzalez, 47, also struggled with money. His family’s restaurant, David’s Café, closed its Alton Road location last year after its owner requested eviction from the business for non-payment of rent.

Now operating a pop-up shop at the Shelbourne South Beach hotel called Cafécito by David’s Café, Gonzalez also faces a foreclosure lawsuit against his home and another lawsuit by creditors for debt over $ 36,000.

Yet he has been active locally, serving on the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority, the Marine and Waterfront Protection Authority, and as chairman of his homeowners association.

He has raised over $ 64,000 since launching his campaign in July.

Young, 50, is the only candidate vying to run a donation-free campaign. His ledger with the city shows more than $ 15,000 in personal expenses – meager expenses compared to his opponents.

But that weakness is also a strength, Young said, noting that he is not beholden to any particular interest or political party.

Young is president of his local homeowners association. He also volunteers with his Golden Retriever therapy dog ​​at Easter Seals Adult Daycare in Miami, calling it one of his most rewarding endeavors.

Miami Beach Commission Group 3

Real estate investor Stephen cohen, President of the Association of Owners of the Venetian Islands Melissa Beattie, Miami Beach Planning Council Member Alex Fernandez and real estate broker Michel Barrineau are competing to replace Góngora, who is stepping down due to term limits.

Of the four, only Cohen took no money from hotels or nightclubs to fund his campaign. That’s because most of the $ 311,000 the Democrat poured into the race came from his own pockets.

Former Commission candidate Cohen, 43, highlighted his civic participation as a reason voters should choose him, citing volunteer work providing meals to seniors in need during the COVID-19 pandemic, mass clean-up efforts in city parks and active membership and sponsorship of local temples.

He said protecting Miami Beach’s waterways, improving safety, fighting for taxpayers and middle-class families, government transparency and balancing the city’s budget were among his main priorities.

He is against the cancellation of the last call at 2 a.m.

Beattie, 46, supports the change. First-registered independent, she presented herself on a platform focused on protecting the environment, improving infrastructure and resilience, and prioritizing the quality of life and safety of residents.

It turned out to be a worthy fundraiser, raising around $ 239,000. More than half of this amount was donated to self. The remainder came from various contributions, including many individual donations and larger donations from hotels and real estate personalities.

A late entry into the race, Republican-turned-independent Fernandez has raised nearly $ 131,000 since his candidacy was filed in September.

The 35-year-old has the most government experience among his peers. He is currently working as Senior Communications Assistant and Legislative Assistant to the Miami-Dade Commissioner. Rebecca Sosa, and he held previous positions in the offices of the former mayor of Miami Beach Matti Bower and former Miami Beach commissioner Deede Weithorn.

Fernandez raced in 2009 against Góngora. Although he lost, the two seemed to have developed a mutual respect, as Góngora backed Fernandez to succeed him.

Fernandez’s sense of government has been a boon to him in fundraising. He appealed to several reputable South Florida developers for donations and is the only candidate in the race to be financially supported by an outside group, a campaign communications organization called A safer Miami beach.

Barrineau, 63, has been in the race the longest – he filed in January – but raised the least, with just $ 42,000 earned, including a $ 10,000 auto loan. He takes another blow at the Commission after a failed bid two years ago in which he placed last in a three-way race.

Regarding the 2 a.m. question, Fernandez said he would support whatever voters decide in a non-binding referendum also on the ballot.

Like Fernandez, Barrineau served on the town’s planning council. He is also the former president of the Fifth Neighborhood Association and the Miami Beach United community group.

The Barrineau platform is based on six pillars: protecting the environment and the water quality of Biscayne Bay, setting up “priority pedestrian zones” to restore and enhance the pedestrian character of the city, fight against overcrowding. -development of builders, invest in “green” mobility, mitigate sea level rise and focus on crime prevention.

He takes care of the last call at 2 a.m.

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