In a Dec. 6 runoff to exchange the late Mark Samuelian on the Miami Seaside Metropolis Fee, Laura Dominguez and Sabrina Cohen wish to differentiate themselves on points that would form town’s future.
Dominguez, who was Samuelian’s life accomplice and completed first in a Nov. 8 first-round election with 41% of votes, is emphasizing her opposition to controversial poll questions on the redevelopment of the previous Deauville Seaside Resort web site and city-owned parking heaps close to Lincoln Highway.
“I used to be clear: Sufficient is sufficient on speeding by means of improvement,” Dominguez mentioned in an interview. “I’m actually not against improvement. However all of these poll measures have been rushed by means of, the residents didn’t actually have neighborhood enter, the neighborhood advantages weren’t clear.”
One of many failed poll questions would have allowed Miami Dolphins proprietor and billionaire developer Stephen Ross to construct a bigger lodge tower and condominium on the former Deauville web site by offering the developer elevated floor-area ratio for its design. One other sequence of questions requested voters to approve 99-year land leases to let builders construct workplace area close to Lincoln Highway on a number of properties.
Cohen, a disability-rights advocate who acquired 31% of votes within the five-person main, mentioned the outcomes counsel residents “have been simply overwhelmed with the considered an excessive amount of occurring too rapidly.”
Regardless of her assist for the referendums, Cohen mentioned she would search a “comfortable medium” if she’s elected and take into account backing away from sure improvement initiatives that residents aren’t able to embrace.
“I believe we simply want a greater stability,” she mentioned. “I need to see extra unity and concord with these huge selections.”
The 2 candidates moved to a runoff as a result of neither acquired greater than 50% of votes. The winner will serve till November 2025, when Samuelian’s time period would have ended. Samuelian died in June of an sickness at 58 years previous.
Whereas Dominguez factors to the poll questions, Cohen’s marketing campaign is emphasizing variations with Dominguez on the difficulty of transferring final name for alcohol gross sales on Ocean Drive from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. — a hot-button subject in Miami Seaside for years and one the Metropolis Fee is anticipated to take up quickly after the Dec. 6 election.
Cohen says she helps a 2 a.m. final name on Ocean Drive, one thing Mayor Dan Gelber — who’s endorsing Cohen — and different officers have sought as a part of their efforts to vary the realm’s popularity as a late-night celebration vacation spot.
Dominguez has mentioned she helps a 2 a.m. alcohol cutoff in residential neighborhoods, however doesn’t assist the identical “blanket” change in different elements of town.
She declined to say particularly how she would deal with final name on Ocean Drive and different nightlife sizzling spots, saying she would first have to seek the advice of town lawyer on the legalities. However she famous there are lots of “good operators” within the metropolis which have been in enterprise for many years.
“I’m very delicate to not hurting our companies,” Dominguez mentioned.
Final yr, a Miami-Dade Circuit Courtroom choose struck down town’s try and impose a 2 a.m. final name at dozens of golf equipment in South Seaside, saying town’s vote to approve it wasn’t correctly executed.
Later in 2021, a majority of voters supported a non-binding referendum on a 2 a.m. final name that envisioned the potential for exceptions. Gelber mentioned he could be open to letting giant inns with their very own safety and indoor queuing serve booze till 5 a.m., however debate on the difficulty centered on the destiny of Ocean Drive.
The homeowners of Mango’s Tropical Cafe and the Clevelander lodge, two longstanding Ocean Drive celebration spots, bankrolled a marketing campaign in opposition to the poll query.
Nonetheless, motion by the Metropolis Fee has been stalled for the reason that choose’s ruling final yr, which held that town’s 2 a.m. proposal was improperly offered as an ordinance requiring a simple-majority vote when it ought to have been a land-development regulation requiring five-sevenths assist.
Meaning the outcomes of the runoff might doubtlessly decide whether or not the fee has the 5 votes vital to maneuver ahead with 2 a.m. final name in some type.
The fee accredited a number of conflicting proposals on first studying in April, vowing to hunt consensus on the matter at a later date. The choices included a blanket 2 a.m. final name supported by Samuelian; a proposal to “grandfather” in companies with current 5 a.m. licenses proposed by Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez; and a system with exceptions for giant inns proposed by Gelber.
“I believe residents have a proper to have their vote vindicated,” Gelber informed the Miami Herald this week, referring to the November 2021 referendum. “It’s unlucky that Laura and Sabrina disagree on this situation.”
Dominguez’s marketing campaign held an occasion at Mango’s final weekend, fueling hypothesis that the venue’s influential homeowners could also be supporting her. Dominguez mentioned her marketing campaign paid for the occasion, and Joshua Wallack, the chief working officer of Mango’s, mentioned he and his father, David, aren’t endorsing within the race.
Entities related to the venue have donated to each candidates.
“It actually doesn’t matter who turns into the commissioner right here. They must observe the regulation,” Joshua Wallack mentioned.
Dominguez mentioned the Cohen marketing campaign’s deal with final name is an try at “deflection” from the truth that Cohen supported high-profile poll measures that failed.
Dominguez and Cohen have loads in frequent, too. Each have emphasised public security and elevated police presence as priorities and say they agree with Gelber’s objective of tamping down town’s celebration ambiance.
Dominguez is a registered Democrat, whereas Cohen is a former Democrat who now has no celebration affiliation, a change she mentioned she made partially due to the non-partisan nature of her disability-rights nonprofit, the Sabrina Cohen Basis. Miami Seaside Metropolis Fee seats are non-partisan.
However the two candidates have fallen on opposing sides of a few of Miami Seaside’s most heated political rivalries. Whereas Cohen has the backing of Gelber and Commissioners Ricky Arriola and David Richardson, Dominguez is endorsed by Rosen Gonzalez — who spearheaded campaigns in opposition to the Deauville and Lincoln Highway poll questions — and Commissioner Alex Fernandez.
Cohen, a Realtor, runs a nonprofit that has partnered with town and native leaders to enhance accessibility in Miami Seaside and is seeking to construct a recreation facility for individuals with mobility challenges. She suffered a extreme spinal cord injury in a automotive accident at 14 years previous.
Dominguez, a digital advertising skilled who had served as Samuelian’s marketing campaign supervisor and treasurer, has raised questions on whether or not Cohen’s position with the nonprofit poses a battle of curiosity, provided that it has acquired assist from native builders. Cohen has mentioned she is going to observe town lawyer’s path if she is elected, “together with recusals from any official actions or divestments of any pursuits, if warranted.”
“Folks prefer to say I’m within the pockets of the builders. That, to me, is nonsense,” Cohen mentioned in an interview. “It’s my ethical compass that leads me, nothing else.”
Low voter turnout is anticipated in an election that options no early voting and just one race on the poll. Voters can submit their ballots by mail or vote in individual at their common precincts on election day.
This story was initially printed November 25, 2022 11:27 AM.
Aaron Leibowitz covers town of Miami Seaside for the Miami Herald. He was beforehand a municipal authorities reporter overlaying cities round Miami-Dade County.