Castro Wins Big in Coral Gables

The final results from the Coral Gables Commission runoff election for Group IV are in, and it’s a more-than-1000 vote margin for Melissa Castro over Ivette Arango O’Doski. Given the paltry turnout of 17.54% that is a very decisive result. Thank you neighbors!

In addition to being a personal win for Ms. Castro, this has to be seen as a significant defeat for Mayor Vince Lago, who organized a slate and large sums of money to support it in a losing effort for Groups IV and V.

It remains to be seen how much of this vote was against developers, how much was against Lago himself, how much was against the idea of candidates running on partisan slates, and how much was against the sleazy tactics funded by that money.  I’d imagine it’s some of each, but that a decent amount of the blow-back will land on Lago.  Where once he used to say he’d never even run for Mayor if only because his wife wouldn’t let him, the last few years have been consistent with eyes on higher office.  This won’t help one bit.

It’s not that Lago doesn’t have a good side — I like his endorsement of solar power, and the generally pro-environmental bent. But I can’t help but wonder if the City comes first in all these other policies that, conveniently, are the sort you might take if you wanted to build up ties to (monied) folk who might be supporters for a move to a bigger stage.  And the development, while some of it was needed, has gone overboard in method and substance.Then again, it might be selfless but given the results that is only a little better.

As someone thinks bureaucracy is necessary, and bureaucrats get an unfair rap, it pains me to say it but there are some troubling signs that the staff at the City has some issues with politicization, opacity, and corner-cutting for the right developers.   Castro and Group V Commissioner Ariel Fernandez will be two votes out of five on the Commission. That likely will make Rhonda Anderson the swing vote, or very occasionally Kirk Menendez. I don’t expect Mike Mena to start causing trouble, but I’m always happy to be proved wrong about that sort of thing.

(Still amazes me I can write that headline above…30+ years ago you could get firebombed for doing something like that around here.)

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