MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - After two Miami Beach mayoral candidates didn’t reach the threshold to take the city’s top job, a runoff election on Tuesday will cement a winner.
In Tuesday’s runoff election, former Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Gongora, is ready to re-enter local government, while Miami Beach Commissioner Steven Meiner looks to step up into the role of mayor.
“I’ve been so focused on resident’s quality of life, law and order being number one,” Meiner said. “Limiting over development. Trying to mitigate our traffic.”
“I wanna re-brand out city as one of arts and culture, I wanna make sure we have the police presence we need and we will keep Miami Beach safe,” Gongora said.
The seat opened up after current mayor Dan Gelber reached his term limit.
On Nov. 7 off year election, only 242 votes separated the two candidates who have a number of endorsements each.
But a few days ago, Meiner lost the endorsement of the Miami Herald.
The Herald pulled it’s support after reporting, “at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, where Meiner has been an enforcement attorney in the <iami office since 2007, three former female colleagues told the Miami Herald that Meiner made unwanted advances toward them.”
The advancements, according to the Herald, Including that he “…allegedly tried to kiss a college-age SEC intern when they went out for dinner,” while another intern claimed, “…while she was at the SEC during law school about a decade ago, Meiner frequently texted her and made comments she saw as inappropriate.”
Meiner has not commented as members of the community weighed in.
“If we elect Steve Meiner as our mayor, we are indirectly saying we are comfortable with these allegations and this behavior is OK. And it is not,” said Marcella Novella, an activist and Miami Beach resident.
The Miami Herald is also not backing Gongora now either after following a series of reports that stated incidents that, “paint the picture of someone who seems willing to use his position in ways that harm public trust.”
Just one of those incidents, according to the Herald, is that after leaving office, Gongora, “has presented official city proclamations at several private events on behalf of commissioners.” The Herald continues by reporting, ” The proclamations gave Gongora the city’s credibility while he was running for mayor and could give voters the improper impression that he’s backed by city hall.”
Although the candidates are facing scrutiny for their alleged actions, they remain intent on winning that vacant seat in order to focus on citywide progress
“I am hopeful when we introduce the infrastructure changes we need, the insurance industry takes note and reduces these crazy high premiums we see in Miami Beach,” Gongora said.
Meiner, however, has a focus on how that development continues.
“I have a proposal to make it harder to increase height, that it would be harder for our commission to approve increase height and density and I am going to look to get that passed at our first meeting as mayor,” he said.
One issue both candidates agree on is the need for an ever growing police presence on Miami Beach with crime being a major concern.
“As the Miami Beach Police endorsed candidate, I am ready to make sure we have more police out on the streets keeping us safe and that we introduce technology, more use of cameras and a real time crime center,” Gongora said.
“It’s not only the police visibility, which is a big part of it, but it is making sure we prosecute our crimes,” Meiner said.
The polls open Tuesday at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.
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