Coral Gables Election: Take Away on Candidates Group Three

Group Three Race:

Javier Baños, attorney and CPA

Alex Bucelo, attorney who has served on city boards

Kirk Menendez, community activist and public affairs expert

Phillip “PJ” Mitchell, attorney and business

The candidates for Group 3 draw contrasts in 

ages (one especially young); 

experience (all with some experience in boards and activities in the city, some more than others), 

business orientation (no university professors or retirees here),

for zoning mostly favoring keeping a traditional Miracle Mile (no real specifics about overdevelopment except it is bad), 

except for parks, no or little concern for the full environmental impact of overdevelopment and climate change; 

some concern for unfunded pension liabilities (although would be fixed at the cost of good city employees and staffing); 

some confusion or overpromising about the real power and influence of a commission on development and financing (legislators are not managers);

very little recognition of the environment and climate change in the future of Coral Gables (one of the most costly challenging issues for the residents of Coral Gables and South Florida);

confused notions about the responsibility and influence of a single commissioner on the operating, administration, budget, scale and density of development of the city;

afraid to respond clear either for or against “kneeling” issue of the police chiefs during the BLM protests (an issue about systemic racism and police mistreatment and abuse of blacks)

An overview of the candidates in terms of depth of experience and willing make change are

Messrs. Banos and/or Mitchell are clearly the best options

Coral Gables Election: NOT ONE CANDIDATE (3)

Has proposed significant, specific measures to mitigate the suffocating increase in local traffic in Coral Gables. Except for very modest proposals to invest in traffic calming devices, which just shift traffic from one district to another, no important plans have been proposed.

Coral Gables Election: NOT ONE CANDIDATE (2)…

…has proposed to strengthen the weak democracy and pathetic voter participation in the City of Coral Gables.

Typically, 25% of the voters participate in elections, and in a close vote, commissioners and mayor are elected by little more thank 50% of the participating voters.

South Miami moved their election date to November coincident with national and regional elections and this will yield a doubling of voter participation. That is a better, competitive democracy.

Coral Gables Election: NOT ONE CANDIDATE (1)…

…says he/she wants to slow or break the over-building and scale of development of the City of Coral Gables, including mac-mansions, gigantic buildings, hotels and offices, parking garages…

Weak Democracy in the City of Coral Gables?

DEMOCRACY refers to a political system in which legislative and chief executive decision-makers are elected by majority or plurality rule by eligible voters, with a presumption that the franchise approaches universal adult suffrage among legal citizens and that mechanisms are in place to protect ideological, religious, ethnic, and other demographic minorities.

Source: American Academy of Arts and Sciences. OUR COMMON PURPOSE: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century. Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship. 2020. p. 1.

The big question is that if only 20 to 25 percent of the eligible registered voters actually vote in municipal elections, whether the city is a weak democracy. I would say that the answer is weak democracy. However, the City of Coral Gables is not that unusual in having such a low participation in municipal elections.

I would add that strong democratic systems should be conceived as encouraging voter participation. The City of Coral Gables discourages voter participation by having voting outside of routine national and state elections in November.

The impacts of low voter participation can be thought of as voter suppression via the charter of the city, which fixes the election dates at an inconvenient date to the electorate. There is good evidence that if elections are moved to November coinciding with national and state elections, then voter participation expands to twice the current participation.

The Commission considered charter revisions that did not include a change of election date to November to coincide with national elections. This disrespects citizens who are conceived as incapable to select the right candidates for the City Commission.

The City of South Miami should be respected as it submitted the election date change and the change in date was approved overwhelming by the voters.

Little Voting in Local Elections–A Lesson for the City of Coral Gables

This is a lesson for the City of Coral Gables.

The City of South Miami recently voted to move the date of elections to November coincident with national and state elections.

Many local elections are held on dates other than national elections. Sometimes it’s a different day; sometimes it’s an off-year, in between midterms and presidential votes. It’s hard enough getting people to vote for president and Congress; it’s even harder to get them out again to vote for county and city officials.

Fortunately, there’s an equally simple solution, and it comes at little cost: Move the dates of local elections to coincide with statewide and national contests. The logic is clear. When local elections are not held on the first Tuesday of November with other statewide and national contests, local voters need to learn the date of their local election, find their local election polling place and make a specific trip to the polls just to vote on local contests….

That small change in timing makes a huge difference in turnout. In 2016, Baltimore moved to on-cycle elections and its participation soared. Registered voter turnout went from just 13 percent in the last election before the switch to 60 percent in the first on-cycle election.

San Diego has on-cycle city elections and generally high turnout — 76 percent in November 2016. But when scandal forced the city to hold an off-cycle mayoral contest in 2013, turnout dropped to 35 percent.

Research shows that participation in local elections in cities doubles in on-cycle elections. And when turnout doubles, the skew in turnout declines, local government becomes more representative of its residents and policies become more responsive to the broader public.

Opinion | Why Does No One Vote in Local Elections? – The New York Times


Too busy, we guess.