Miami Beach is either out of step or is ahead of its time. Sometimes it’s hard to decide which. It holds its elections in odd numbered years. On the one hand, it allows Beach voters to focus on these elections without being swamped by campaign news from the nation or state. One the other hand, the odd timing tends to draw a smaller crowd of voters to the polls.
This year, three Commission seats are up for grabs, together with the Mayor’s Office. Here are the candidates that Miami Beach Community Newspaper endorses.
Commissioner Group IV
The races for the Commission seats are all being hotly contested. In Group IV, former City Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez is seeking to regain the seat she once held after being forced to resign to run for Congress. She is facing Michael Barrineau, Steven Meiner, and Rafael Velasquez, none of whom have been elected to office, although Velasquez ran unsuccessfully in 2017.
Throughout her three-year tenure on the Beach City Commission, Rosen Gonzalez established herself not only as a thorn in the side of then Mayor Philip Levine, but as a grass roots advocate for the ordinary citizen. She opposed increasing density in the City that would only serve to clog traffic and make the quality of life worse for Beach residents. She also stood up for ordinary workers, advocating paid maternity leave and ensuring that hotel workers have panic buttons as a way of dealing with sexual assault and crime.
Miami Beach Community Newspaper endorses Kristen Rosen Gonzalez in Group IV.
Commissioner Group V
Incumbent Ricky Arriola has attracted three opponents: Stephen Cohen, Raquel Pacheco, and Jonathan Welch. Arriola was part of a slate of candidates put together by then Mayoral candidate Phil Levine. (The other members of that group included John Elizabeth Aleman and Betsy Perez and were all backed by Levine’s shady PAC, Relentless for Progress.)
Arriola has far and away more money than all of his opponents combined. However, the word on the street is that Ricky was seen as a rubber stamp for the agenda of Phil Levine and plays that same role for Dan Gelber.
Raquel Pacheco is a political newcomer, but not without experience. She got her bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from the University of Connecticut and served with the Connecticut Army National Guard. She owns and manages a language translation agency.
Like Rosen Gonzalez, Pacheco has also vowed to oppose out-of-control development on the Beach, seek solutions to the gridlock on City streets, and to advocate for clean and green initiatives to protect the environment for the next generation.
Miami Beach Community Newspaper endorses Raquel Pacheco in Group V.
Commissioner Group VI
Commissioner John Elizabeth Aleman decided not to run for a second term in 2019. The Group VI race has attracted four candidates: Adrian Gonzalez, Mohammed Rafiqul Islam, David Richardson, and Blake Young. Of these four, David Richardson stands out the most.
Richardson has undergraduate degrees in biology and accountancy, as well as an MBA. During his tenure in the Florida House representing Miami Beach and parts of Miami and North Bay Village he was an outspoken advocate for LGBT human rights issues and was also critical of the private prison industry, uncovering almost $16 million dollars in fraud and overcharges to the state of Florida.
Richardson’s green eyeshade and keen eye would be an asset when the City is grappling with putting together the annual budget.
Miami Beach Community Newspaper endorses David Richardson in Group VI.
Incumbent Mayor Dan Gelber was awarded a second two-year term without opposition. We wish him success in his new term.
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