COMMENTS on Interviews with Coral Gables Candidates for Mayor (Miami-Herald)

Thanks to the Miami Herald for in-depth interviews with the three candidates for Mayor of the City of Coral Gables: Jackson Rip Holmes, Partiricia Ann Keon and Vince Lago, published on March 27, 2021.

Comments on the interview:

THE MAYOR’S JOB. Recall that the City of Coral Gables is not directed by its mayor, but headed by a CEO city manager who handles all of the operating and administration measures, including public security, economic development, public works, among others. Therefore, the mayor is just the titular head of the local legislature, the Commission, a board of directors, which passes all laws and associated regulations essentially proposed by the city manager. In this sense, the mayor has limited authorities over the city and acts as a ceremonial representative of the city.

JACKSON RIP HOLMES has no paraticular community-wide interest in the job of mayor, except to defend his personal property holdings, as he admitted in the interview. Therefore, he cannot be considered a serious candidate.

PATRICIA ANN KEON has identified her priorities to improve the operating efficiency and effectiveness of the administration of the city. That, I believe, is the job of the city manager. She also responded to questions about the unfunded pension fund liability. She also seems to accept large-scale development, just as the rest of the Commission has acquiesced in overdevelopment during the last many years. Therefore, it is my conclusion that she does not represent much of a break from the past, much of an opportunity to mitigate large-scale development and different shape of the city budget and operating culture of the city. Her claim to have helped the city get a triple-A bond rating is not especially convincing.

VINCE LAGO has been running for mayor for years. His main trump card is that he is very interested in implementing transparency, increased access and comments by the residents and businesses and more open meetings of all kinds. These concepts of transparency and participation are new ideas in the City of Coral Gables, where many important decisions are made with nominal public participation. He has had a varied agenda with some emphasis on the environment and climate change. Whether his election mayor will make big changes in both emphasis, style and substance is a test of a mayoral leadership and influence, rather than actual power of the office. Except for his fight over Miracle Mile development scale, he appears to go along with large-scale development outside of that area.

SOURCE OF INTERVIEWS: https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/article250153670.html

About Stephen E. McGaughey
Resident of the City of Coral Gables

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