The Miami-Dade Commission election is sneaking up on us — it’s in August, not November, like the state and congressional races — and it’s going to be pretty big, with five of the six seats open, thanks to the term limits.
Say goodbye to commissioners Jean Monestime, Sally Heyman, Rebeca Sosa, Javier Soutoand Jose “Pepe” Diaz, who is widely rumored to be running for mayor of Sweetwater next. Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higginswho got her job by nomination, will face her first election but is favored to win, so far.
We could have six new commissioners, but we will certainly have five new ones. Like a repeat of 2020, this is an opportunity to completely change the dynamic of the stage. Added to the five new Commissioners elected in 2020 (and Cohen Higgins), we will have 11 Commissioners with two years or less under their belt. Commissioners Joe Martinez and Eileen Higgins will be seniors.
With just over four months until primary election day on Aug. 23, here’s who’s lining up for which seat. So far, because qualifying, which begins next monthdoesn’t end until June 14.
In District 2, to replace Monestime, there is a group of aspirants. Previously, there were nine candidates, but two withdrew and the former commissioner Dorrin Rolle died in 2020. There are now six: Wallace Aristideprincipal of Miami Northwestern Senior High, former mayor of North Miami Josephat “Joe” Celestin, Monique Nicole Barley-Mayowho ran for mayor of the county in 2020 (and now we know why), Marlene Bastienexecutive director of Haitian Women of Miami, current mayor of North Miami Philip Beloved and William Clarkretired paramedic and community activist.
According to the latest campaign finance reports, the most money was raised by Bastien, with $173,300, and Aristide, who has around $106,000, although just over $18,000 was loaned to himself. Bien-Aime raised around $56,000, Clark nearly $38,000, and Celestine and Barley-Mayo trail with $7,500 and zero, respectively.
In District 4, we have the opposite interest – only one candidate: Miami Beach Commissioner Micky Steinberg. Heyman’s seat is the only one with only one hope behind the scenes. It’s still early days, but the $306,000 Steinberg has raised might scare others away, as expected. She still has about $270,000 on hand. And that’s not counting the political action committees.
Related Read: Miami-Dade’s Danielle Cohen Higgins Files Petitions to Qualify for First Race
In District 6, we have long had a state representative. Bryan Avila as Sosa’s heir apparent. Ibis Valdes has had its head screwed back on and has already withdrawn. But construction manager Orlando Llamaswho was running to replace Avila in Home District 111 through February, filed paperwork in March showing he intended to run for the county commission instead.
Avila can jump to a Senate race if Manny Diaz, Jr.., is appointed education commissioner, which would be a joke. The guy’s business is charter schools. But stranger things have happened in Florida. And if this travesty happens, then this race might get more interesting.
Las malas lenguas say none other than the former lieutenant governor. Carlos Lopez Cantera waits to see if Avila jumps so she can intervene. But that goes against other rumors that CLC, which was once a Miami-Dade real estate appraiser, is running for one of the county’s new seats in the 2024 ballot, as election supervisor.
He would also have looked at the side seat: Coral Gables Commissioner Jorge Fors – who better prepare for more posts about his homestead exemption fraud – and political operative Kevin Cabrera, whose wife is a state representative. Both are waiting for Avila to move.
In District 8, Cohen Higgins has pretty much an open field. There have been many rumors – most started by the commissioner to — that the mayor of Palmetto Bay Karyn Cunningham would challenge her, but Cunningham told Ladra she was focused on her own re-election, which is also this year.
Three people, including the former Palmetto Bay councilman John DuBois, withdrew. Alone Alicia Arellano remains. But she’s only raised $2,300 compared to the nearly $400,000 raised by Cohen Higgins so far, which is exactly why the seat should never have gone to anyone.
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In District 10, we have a one-on-one, so far, to replace Souto. It’s a bit unbalanced in terms of money as a state representative. Anthony Rodriguez a $280,000 and libertarian marijuana activist Marthe Bueno raised less than $18,000. But these two will make for some very interesting debates, if Rodriguez dares.
Related Read: Launched by Sweetwater Council, Sophia Lacayo targets county commission
In District 12 we have another one-on-one, still so far, with Doral Mayor J.C. Bermudez against former Sweetwater Councilwoman Sophie Lacayowho was forced to resign when she was convicted of perjury for swearing she lived in the city when in fact she didn’t.
This time, she says she lives in a $2.8 million home in Doral. Yes, Ladra will definitely check that.
Lacayo is also mostly self-funding his campaign, lending himself at least $169,000 of the $187,000 in his account so far. Bermudez raised $213,000.
Voters should prepare first for phone calls and then for mailings from candidates. And they should demand debates about the options.