By Jessica Sanchez, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Today, Tuesday, November 5th the General and Special Election are being held in Miami Beach from 7AM to 7PM. Duly registered and qualified voters of the City will determine who will fill the Commission seats for Group 4, 5, and 6 and will also a vote on six ballot questions facing residents.
If a Run-Off Election is required, it will be held on November 19th and early voting will be on November 16th and November 17th at the two Miami Beach Early Voting sites. November 9th is the deadline to request a Vote-by-Mail ballot.
In the Group 4, vacated by Joy Malakof, former Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzales is looking recover the seat. She is competing against Rafael Velasquez whom she accused of sexual harassment in 2017 to what he responded was a made up story and filed a defamation law suit against her. Rafael Velasquez has raised $151,129, while Kristen Rosen Gonzalez has received $149,195.
Group 5, Ricky Arriola who has gained nearly $230,000 in fundraising is running for reelection, along with other three first-time candidates Stephen Cohen who has raised more than 86,000 and Raquel Pacheco and Jonahtan Welsh who have both raised under $10,000 for their campaign.
Group 6 will be vacated by John Elizabeth Alemán, and the leader in terms of fundraising is David Richardson, with $157,787 in monetary contributions. Following are Adrian Gonzalez with $70,875, Mohammed Rafiqul Islamstatus with $6,717 and Blake Youngstatus with $1,800.
This one has four candidates that are running to fill the vacant that Commissioner Aleman will leave. As for fundraising, David Richardson has raised $157,787, then Adrian Gonzalez with $70,875, Mohammed Rafiqul Islamstatus with $6,717 and Blake Youngstatus with $1,800 in monetary contributions.
As far as the Ballot questions, ballot 1 will change the time the Mayor is allowed to stay in office. The current time he or she can serve is two year term, and is limited to three terms. It would allow for the Mayor to serve a four-year term, instead of just two years. Mayors would be limited to two four-year terms.
The second ballot question looks to increase the Mayor and Commissioner’s payment which was set in 1966 from $10,000 to $75,381 and from $6,000 to 45,381 respectively, and that would be put inacted in 2021.
Ballot 3 would change the commission’s process for a new vacancy. The referendum would allow commissioners to schedule an election. The name of the new park built near the Convention Center would be now “Pride Park” in ballot 4.
Ballot 5 would allow new floor area inside historic buildings to change their usage. Lastly, ballot 6 would permit the increase of floor area for buildings along Washington Avenue and Alton Road for offices.
Tanya K. Bhatt, President of Miami Beach United, a volunteer non-profit group of local activists, shared, “If you don’t like the way things are going, this is your opportunity to make a change and put new people into office who will, ideally, align with your values, and to vote on referenda items that you want to see passed or stopped.”