Vince Lago handily won the Mayoral election, but there are very quick runoffs in the two Commission elections: next Tuesday, April 27.
Absentee ballots went out late last week, but there will be barely time to fill them out and mail them if you want them counted — it would be much more sensible to drop them off at the dropbox which will be at the Coral Gables Library this weekend, where early voting will also be possible.
In the Group 2 race, the two candidates are Rhonda Anderson and Jose Valdes-Fauli. In the Group 3 race, the two candidates are Javier Baños and Kirk Menendez.
So, who to vote for? In group 2 it’s fairly easy: Rhonda Anderson not only had almost enough votes to win in the first round, she’s the better candidate. She was (like me) a bit late to the development-has-gone-too-far tendency, but she got there. She’s very experienced in Coral Gables government, having been a participant or shadow in almost everything for twenty years or more. I have no doubt at all that she is sincerely committed to listening to and involving residents. Anderson is no progressive, but neither is Valdez-Fauli, who is running a somewhat genial, noblesse oblige, kind of campaign. I will grant he’s not likely to be half as peremptory and obnoxious as his brother, the former Mayor, who clearly wasn’t interested in listening much when he was presiding. But I won’t grant that he’s going to be anywhere near as sensitive to representing the voters as Anderson will.
In group 3, it’s just as hard as ever. There’s the potentially dangerous candidate or the potentially reactionary one. I am still leaning reluctantly to Menendez despite his vapid if not backwards-looking campaign. (And they are text spamming me now!)
The case for Menendez is mostly about why one would vote against Baños. In addition to the merits of his platform, there’s the issue of … I won’t say ‘character’, let’s say ‘campaign style’: After I wrote my previous posts saying that while Baños seemed more competent he also seemed like he was for the wrong things, and he had a worryingly cozy relationship with Miami Commissioner “Crazy Joe” Carollo, the candidate himself came to this blog and commented.
My only relationship to Carollo is that my firm did the campaign books and public reporting in 2017.
Contrast that with how the Miami Herald describes Baños’s relationship with Carollo:
Baños has been involved in politics in the past, having run for South Miami’s city commissioner and serving as the treasurer of the campaign accounts and political action committee for Carollo, the Miami commissioner. He was also Carollo’s appointee on the Bayfront Park Management Trust.
Perhaps Baños’s statement quoted above is technically correct, but you be the judge as to how open, transparent, and complete that statement is.
I may have more to say after tonight’s (sole) candidate’s debate, a poorly-publicized event. According to the Gables Insider blog, the details are:
On Wednesday, April 21st, the Coral Gables Neighbors Association, Gables Good Government, Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables, Ponce Neighbors Association and Urban Core Community Coalition, Inc. will hold a debate with the four remaining Commission candidates for the April 27th Runoff election.
Those interested in participating can register at: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_whfqQiIxSc2IrXwhnIjg9A.
This is the only scheduled debate for the runoff, and will be a formal debate, not a forum. “This election and we saved this tough-question format for the runoffs,” says the invitation.
Former U.S. Attorney Leon Kellner will moderate the debate.
7:00PM – Commission Seat 2: Featuring Rhonda Anderson vs. Jose Valdes-Fauli.
8:00PM – Commission Seat 3: Featuring Javier Baños vs. Kirk Menendez.
Questions for the candidates can be submitted to: LeonKellner@comcast.net
I put in a question about traffic calming.
P.S. This rushed runoff is not a good idea for airing of issues or turnout. If we’re going to go for speed, instant runoff voting would be a lot better. Pity then-Mayor Valdes-Fauli shot it down when I proposed it in the last charter revision process.