The Coral Gables Mayor’s race was the last part of the Chamber of Commerce’s candidates’ event held last Tuesday. You can see it on YouTube – it starts at about the 1:51 mark and runs about an hour.
By accident or design the Chamber structured the event in a very unfair way, making challenger Ralph Cabrera answer every question first. This is very unfair for two reasons. First, the second responder, here incumbent Mayor James Cason, gets more time to think about his answer. Second, under the ground rules of the Chamber – no rebuttals – the second responder gets to reply to the first responder, but the first responder never gets a chance to reply to anything the second responder says – no matter how tendentious or inaccurate. By running the event in this manner the Chamber did a real disservice to the community.
I don’t think I learned a great deal from the event. Cason was in better form than his lethargic performance in the earlier debate. (See Coral Gables Election 2015: Candidates for Mayor Debate.) Cabrera was just coming off bronchitis, and he sounded a bit hoarse, but perhaps that kept him a bit more subdued and calmer, which in his case tends to be good. Overall the battle seemed fairly even, which given the lopsided ground rules has to count as a win for Cabrera.
Of course, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not neutral on this one. I think James Cason does not deserve your vote due to his support of the former City Manger even after that manger was caught hiding traffic accident data from the Commission. That sort of behavior subverts democracy, and anyone who supports the subversion of democracy ought not to hold public office. If you disagree, you may discount my assessment accordingly.
So, what nuggets did we glean? Probably the biggest one is that Cason hopes to have the Commission lower the millage a bit for the fifth straight year, a triumph of appearance over substance, since the cuts are small and the tax bills go up anyway.
We learned that Cabrera is firmly committed to making the city safe for bicyclists in part because he himself is a “competitive cyclist”.
Cason wants more red light cameras in the Gables. (Personally, I’m not a fan; these seem to mostly make money for the red light camera people.)
We learned that Cason loves the Agave project, and the Cabrera has “strong concerns” about it on traffic and scale grounds. But we knew both those things.
We heard again about Cason having attended 5100 events representing our city (one of which I gather was a city-financed junket to China). Figure four years, six days a week not counting the Sabbath, that makes for just over four per day. Does that leave time for much else?
Like I said, overall, much of the same.