I emailed the two sitting Commissioners I’ve contacted in the past, Maria Anderson and Frank Quesada, to ask them if they are endorsing anyone in the upcoming Coral Gables elections.
Here’s what they said:
From my vantage point of 12 years on the Coral Gables City Commission, this will be the first time since 2001 that there will be 2 – 3 new faces serving our City. These new faces on our Commission will create an entirely new dynamic at City Hall. I am humbled for the three times Coral Gables residents elected me to office, however, as I leave public service, I am deeply worried about the future of my hometown.
The Mayor’s race in particular is pivotal. The standing mayor has become the puppet for a despotic City Manager. Furthermore the Mayor never truly expresses an opinion of his own. He is scripted by the manager, whose best interest does not seem to me to be in the best interest of Coral Gables.
Cason’s popularity with Cubans because of his Cuban Foreign Service work makes no sense to me. After all, I am a Cuban-born, 53-year resident of Coral Gables and my colleague, Ralph Cabrera is a Cuban born, 47 year resident. Our parents lost everything, and then made a life again in Coral Gables.
Shoddily re-paved streets and skinny palm trees do not a good mayor make. They are merely cosmetic cover-ups that hide the true issues. During his tenure as mayor:
1. Jim Cason refuses to admit that the City has had a 13%+ increase in crime. 2. Jim Cason approved an unprecedented number of no-bid contracts that cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars. A no-bid contract give one or two people or companies an exclusive “in” to make money without having to prove they are giving the best service. It’s the “good old boy” network at it worst. 3. Jim Cason views city employees like actuarial statistics and the manager behaves as if these employees are chattel because of a failure in leadership by the Mayor. Morale has flat-lined in City Hall. Jim Cason has not figured out that fairly treated employees give the quality service residents expect.
I have served with Ralph Cabrera for 12 years. He knows Coral Gables and has served the city for over 20 years. He raises his family and built his business here. As commissioner:
1. He has voted against increased fees for over eleven years. 2. He has demanded the truth on crime issues be released and educated the public on the matter by speaking to WPLG just two weeks ago. 3. He has voted against every no-bid contract proposed by the manager and the mayor, believing that waving the rules is wrong for the City and an abuse of the process.
I am voting for Ralph Cabrera and asking my friends and neighbors to do the same, because it is that important for our City!
(I gather that Maria Anderson is staying neutral in Group 3 because she is friends with both Mary Young and Pat Keon.)
I am endorsing Vince Lago and Mary Young.
Vince Lago – I’ve known Vince for the past 14+ years. For as long as I’ve known Vince, he is the kind of person with an interest in helping others and has strong leadership skills. He’s also served on the City’s Planning and Zoning Board and although we don’t agree on every issue, he has proven to me that he cares about the City and is looking to improve and protect it.
Mary Young – I’ve known Mary for the last 2-3 years through her involvement in numerous community organizations. I’ve always liked her enthusiasm to help the community and her impressive business background.
Incidentally, I also emailed Vice-Mayor Bill Kerdyk, but didn’t get a reply. Given the performance he put on in the last election, I’m not sure if his endorsement wouldn’t count as a negative anyway.
I plan to go to the Mayoral candidate debate tonight. As I noted in my Coral Gables Commission Candidates’ Forum (Group II) Report the event was very informative even when the candidates tended to agree on the issues (as I said, I thought Ross Hancock made the best case for his candidacy). The Group 2 debate was very civil; I think there’s a decent chance of more fireworks at this one.