Politics: Candidates Jockey for Position in Last Few Weeks of Election Races

SunPost Questions The Candidates

It is almost time for the residents of Miami Beach to choose who to vote for and elect to office. The SunPost sent out a few simple questions to the candidates, to help clarify their positions.

We hope you find these helpful and that they help you make your final decision on election day, November 5. We do find it telling, that some candidates did not respond.

 MAYORAL?RACE:

Steve Berke

You have been on Miami Beach for how long?

Well, my DNA has been on Miami Beach since my grandmother moved here in 1932. My father grew up on the Beach, and I lived here as a child. I attended North Miami Beach Senior High School, but after graduating Yale, I eventually moved back to Miami Beach. Although I have an investment property in Miami, I have mostly lived in Miami Beach and I intend to stay here for the rest of my life.

Your Profession is?

I am a professional YouTuber and video producer. Along with the revenue from my own YouTube videos, I earn a living producing commercials and music videos.

Your age is? 32

A personal or business accomplishment that you are proud of?

I am proud that I was able to take a run-down building in New Haven, Connecticut and convert it into safe and affordable housing for Yale students, many of whom were on financial aid. I was able to help these students who had fought hard for scholarships, and needed to be able to concentrate on their studies without being under immense pressure to pay sky high rents and bills.

What is it about public office that attracts you?

It is too easy in life to get caught up in ones own accomplishments. As a champion athlete, I was always trying to be number one. As an entertainer, I grabbed the spotlight for myself. However, as a public servant I am able to use my competitive nature and my natural communication talents to help other people.

I have learned that happiness comes with finding meaning in one’s labor. This is my one shot at youth and I can choose to spend it being selfish and looking out for myself – or, I can spend it using the skills, the talents, and the energy I have making the lives of others better.

What should your fellow Beach residents know about you?

They should know that I’m an extremely hard worker. That I have the energy and drive to succeed, and to win. That no matter how tough my opponent, I will never give up. I am fighting for the future of Miami Beach for all of our residents.

Unlike Phil Levine, I am not trying to use the divisive methods of some South American dictator – I.E. appeasing the rich and buying the poor. Nor am I the keeper of the establishment status quo like the incumbent, Michael Gongora.

Furthermore, unlike either of my opposition, I have a clear and focused vision for the future of this city and I am the best man to make that vision a reality.

What should your opposing candidates know about you?

Firstly, that I am watching them and that part of my goal is to make the political process transparent. Unlike my opponent King Philip, I have no fear of the ‘public’ in ‘public office.’ I welcome the cameras at debates, I will personally answer all questions from the press, I want politics to be an open book. I am running to represent the people of Miami Beach not myself, so I will never hide behind handlers, political consultants and image makers. I am standing on long held principles, not chasing political opportunity.

For example, I have openly supported marijuana reform for years, but who wants to bet that Phil will try to buy the smoky affections of those who want to decriminalize medical marijuana before Nov 5?

As to Gongora, he should know that I think he is a coward, hiding behind his mother’s skirts and afraid to rock the boat. With all his experience, he should have knocked this Levine out by now. I guess I’ll have to take the lead on that as well.

What is one main qualifying issue of your candidacy?

One word, ‘transparency.’ We will not hide anything, We will make no backroom deals. We will shine a spotlight on every problem. We will make sure that the residents of Miami Beach are educated about the issues.

Furthermore, I have presented a plan for our city, my 2020 Vision. I have attracted the attention of serious people like the CEO and Chairman of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, who is interested in sponsoring my SkyLink proposal.

Compare me to my competition. What do you get? From Gongora, nothing. From Levine, an iPhone app to take pictures of potholes. Vote Steve Berke and you get a concrete vision and plan for Miami Beach’s future, and an iconic transportation solution that will not only alleviate traffic, but will also raise revenue for our city.

The first thing you will attempt to change about Miami Beach if you are elected?

Let’s fix the flooding. Michael Gongora needs to stop bragging about “his” Storm Water Master Plan, because it clearly doesn’t work. It hasn’t even rained this past week, and yet our streets are still completely flooded. Gongora keeps waiving this Storm Water Master Plan like it’s the cure rather than the ineffective band-aid that it’s proven to be. It’s pathetic. Our residents aren’t stupid, and they know that this plan is not working.

This has been the most combative Mayoral Race in years, why do you think that is?

This is the most combative race because the stakes are so high. Miami Beach has never been in such a precarious position before. We are fighting for the heart and soul of our government. In one corner we have King Philip. This man has said in every debate that, “You can’t take the King’s shilling without becoming the King’s man.” Well guess who has taken the King’s money? His lawyer, Commissioner Ed Tobin, along with Commissioner Jonah Wolfson and Commissioner Deede Weithorn. They have taken thousands of dollars from him in campaign contributions from many of his more than fifty companies. In this own words, they are his men. That means that, if elected, Levine would have a built-in, permanent majority on the commission and could do whatever he wanted. And, if you want to know what he wants to do then take a look at who his people David Custin and JC Planas are lobbying for and it will all fall into place.

In the other corner, Commissioner Michael Gongora has been too weak. He has been too political, playing it too safe and acting like a politician trying to keep the middle ground. Yes, his ECO and PAC have been on the rampage, but that is part of the problem. Hiding behind these shadowy political organizations tars everyone with the same brush – the public doesn’t know who to trust.

That is why I have chosen not to hide in a corner, or stand behind any other organizations. I continue to speak truth to power from the middle. I will not be afraid. I will stand up for the people of Miami Beach. And, all I need to be successful in that endeavor, is the support of our residents.

You have been discounted as a non-serious candidate because of your previous run. What do you say about that?

I have not been discounted as a non-serious candidate by anyone actually paying attention to the election and certainly not by anyone that has attended the candidate debates. Yes, my opponents have tried to portray me that way, but if anyone watches my Kickstarter video on my website you will see that I predicted months ago that that is exactly what they would do.

Conversely, let’s look at what informed people have been saying just this past week:

“I’m impressed with Steve Berke’s 2020 Vision,” Sir Richard Branson, 10/15/13

“Steve Berke is serious,” The Miami Herald, 10/19/13

“Berke is a smart, no-nonsense, third-generation Beach resident who seems to be the only one speaking the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” Political Cortadito, 10/21/13

“Steve is a person that is honest, he is young, and he is smart, and he is what is now Miami Beach,” Mayor Matti Bower, 10/21/13 (originally in Spanish)

“Former comedian Steve Berke is the most serious candidate,” The Miami New Times, 10/22/13

What is one thing that sets you apart from the other 3 Mayoral candidates?

I speak the truth, and I cannot be corrupted. Gongora has already received over six figures of hard and soft money from developers, lobbyists, and special interests. Levine is claiming that he is immune to the special interests. But, Levine is a special interest — of one. He is partners with one of the biggest developers in Miami Beach, and they made millions of dollars off of just one city contract. If that’s not a special interest, than I don’t know what is. If Levine and his partners could make that much off of just one contract, what are they going to do when they have the keys to the city with a clear majority on the commission? Levine’s argument that he isn’t corrupt because he isn’t taking money is classic misdirection. You see, Levine is the corrupter – he is giving away money like it is going out of fashion. He’s given tens of thousands of dollars to sitting commissioners, and even more to those on his slate; I.E. Malakoff, Grieco and Kaplan Roberts. He threw a $100,000 gala for the elderly to buy their vote, he is donating money wherever influence can be bought. He even bussed in former President Clinton for a cool million or so. This is corruption at it’s finest. Instead of accepting the bribes, Levine is dishing them out.

At the end of the day, I am the only candidate out there every day presenting an actual plan for the future of Miami Beach, and I am earning the voter’s trust, I am not attempting to buy their vote.

MAYORAL?RACE:

Raphael Herman

(No Response)

MAYORAL?RACE:

Michael Gongora

Michael Gongora

You have been on Miami Beach for how long?

I have been a resident of Miami Beach on and off for more than twenty years.

 Your Profession is?

Attorney at Law, Shareholder, Becker & Poliakoff.

 Your age is? 43

 A personal or business accomplishment that you are proud of?

One of my personal accomplishments that I am most proud of is assisting the community of Miami Beach with pro bono legal advice. I always pride myself in finding solutions and not just sitting back. In 2007, as president of the Miami Beach Bar Association, I was able to successfully accomplish the re-opening of the North Beach Pro Bono Law Clinic. I also serve on the board of Council Towers, an affordable housing community that I also enjoy.

 What is it about public office that attracts you?

Public office is in my blood as my grandfather was involved in politics. Raised with the value of giving back to my community, I began serving on a wide variety of Miami Beach, Miami and Miami-Dade County Boards and Committees prior to being elected to the Miami Beach Commission. Miami Beach is my home and it was my love of Miami Beach that draws me to serve the public. In the last four years, my love for Miami Beach has only grown and now I know that I am ready to serve my city as mayor.

What should your fellow Beach residents know about you?

I am proud that my fellow Beach residents already know me. Whether it is serving next to them on a city board or committee, seeing them at community events, responding to their individual constituent emails, or meeting with them regarding their concerns, I am fully invested in our community and I intend to stay that way as your mayor.

What should your opposing candidates know about you?

Again, I imagine my opponents know everything about me. I cannot say the same about my opponents. One of my opponents would not agree to open court documents on his business dealings for which he paid a $45,000 fine in Alaska and the other seems to be mostly interested in his documentary.

 What is one main qualifying issue of your candidacy?

One of my main qualifying issues is my experience serving this community both as a private citizen and serving as City Commissioner. No one in recent time has ever been elected as Mayor of Miami Beach without serving first as a commissioner. There is a reason why in Miami Beach’s voters have a history of electing Commissioners to be their Mayor. Making effective change in government requires knowledge of how government works. This it is not as simple as my opponents claim. City government cannot be run as a private company. It was never meant to be. Governing is a consensus business. My opponents display their complete ignorance of government by making statements that indicate they think Miami Beach is a strong mayor city. It is not. They think they are running to be the next Bloomberg who actually is a strong mayor.

 The first thing you will attempt to change about Miami Beach if you are elected?

My first priority is to continue working on long-term solutions for our traffic, parking and flooding problems. Due to hard work on the part of the Commission, Miami Beach has made significant progress on all of these issues. Most parking solutions like garages can be funded from the enterprise fund for parking. These revenues have increased significantly because parking demand has been very strong. Traffic calming initiatives can be paid through revenues resulting from increased enforcement. Flooding problems are probably our toughest issue to face. Miami Beach, after all, is essentially a sea-level community. We could spend billions and still have problems from water infiltration when high tides, the moon and planets align. However, thankfully, the City has made significant progress in adding stormwater sewers and simultaneously developing a Stormwater Master Plan. I have been a champion of the Stormwater Master Plan, the first ever in any Florida municipality to look at rising tides and sea level as part of the planning process. The plan provides for immediate solutions such as the ongoing installation of pump stations along the Western corridor of our City; lifting roads as we do construction such as with the Alton Road Project; and raising our sea walls. Just as I created the City’s Sustainability Committee, I have called for the City to create a Flooding Taskforce to further monitor and work on solutions to this significant problem.

This has been the most combative Mayoral Race in years, why do you think that is?

In one word: money. Never in the history of Miami Beach has one candidate spent this amount of money in a municipal election. In fact, there may be another record broken: spending per vote. To date, one of my opponents has spent $1.6 million that we know about, since it appears that my opponent is funding the electioneering campaign organization that has been filling mailboxes and airwaves with attacks on my candidacy. Yet, this same opponent who refuses to be transparent will not allow documents relating to his $45,000 fine and settlement of deceptive business practices in Alaska.

There have been some recent negative allegations launched at you. How do you respond?

 It is no surprise that my opponents are resorting to negative campaign messages as they have no real messages or records of community service. Consequently, their only defense is to attack. It is rather pathetic that one of my opponents primary attacks have been over an expensed hotel room in Switzerland from when I travelled to Art Basel. Art Basel has provided millions in economic benefit in our community. Interestingly, no one had complained of my service until these candidates filed to run for Mayor against me.

What is one thing that sets you apart from the other 3 Mayoral candidates?

The biggest thing that sets me apart from the other candidates is my deep, long-standing commitment to this City and that I have been recommended by the Miami Herald for mayor and endorsed by every single board, committee and group that considered the qualifications of the candidates including SaveDade, Equality Florida, AFL-CIO (and affiliate members like United Teachers of Miami-Dade), Police, Fire, Miami Association of Realtors, Latin Builders Association and local leaders like Norman Braman and Senator Gwen Margolis.

MAYORAL?RACE:

Philip Levine

You have been on Miami Beach for how long? 26 years.

Your Profession is?

Entrepreneur

Your age is? 51

A personal or business accomplishment that you are proud of?

I have been fortunate enough to create a number of successful businesses in the private sector and am very proud of the jobs we have created for Miami Beach residents and the positive economic impact these companies have had on the Miami Beach economy.

What is it about public office that attracts you?

I am running for Mayor because I believe that Miami Beach is at a tipping point, headed in the wrong direction, and my personal belief is that the people of Miami Beach come first.  Presently, Miami Beach is plagued with an overburdened infrastructure that has not been adequately maintained, a City government that is not responsive to its residents, and ultimately negatively impacts the quality of life of Beach residents. City Hall is rife with corruption and a number of incumbent elected officials leverage their positions of power to benefit their personal lives.

What should your fellow Beach residents know about you?

I have been a resident of Miami Beach for over 20 years. I started with $500 above the News Café and was fortunate enough to build some exciting companies in the cruise industry. I want to utilize my private sector experience to help fix what’s broken and make things work again for Miami Beach residents.

What should your opposing candidates know about you?

Please see above – “

What is one main qualifying issue of your candidacy?

There are a number issues that I believe need to be addressed immediately: fix the streets and stop the flooding: conduct a thorough review of the Stormwater Master Plan and determine whether it adequately addresses our flooding issues; change the culture of City Hall and root out corruption; and reform the pension system so that it becomes financially viable in the long-term.

The first thing you will attempt to change about Miami Beach if you are elected?

Please see above – these are all issues that must be addressed immediately.

This has been the most combative Mayoral Race in years, why do you think that is?

I believe that the cabal of political insiders and the ineffective and entrenched incumbent elected officials are desperately trying to maintain their power.

You have been accused of throwing around money to get this position won. What do you say about that?

Unlike my main opponent, I have capped donations to $100 so that people can invest in my campaign, but so that I may remain independent of any special interests. Likewise, I will invest as much of my personal funds as necessary for my campaign to remain competitive and to spread my message of positive change and making things work again. My lone interest will be what is best for residents and our city. My opponents’ claims of trying attempting to buy this election is an insult to the nearly 1,500 residents that signed the petition to place my name on the ballot – I am the only candidate in this election cycle who has qualified via the petition process. The voter signatures were collected without the use of paid workers. In fact, I personally collected over 85% of the signatures.

Another accusation launched at you is an anti-Hispanic theme to your candidacy. How do you respond?

For my opponents to say that I am running an anti-Hispanic campaign is an insult to the intelligence of the Hispanic community and the residents of Miami Beach as a whole. I have walked door-to-door for the past 6 months and have received a resoundingly warm reception from all residents of Miami Beach.

What is one thing that sets you apart from the other 3 Mayoral candidates?

I am not a ineffective professional politician who attempts to sell reality television shows like Commissioner Gongora and I am not a comedian trying to create a reality television show like Mr. Berke; I am an individual with a proven track record of success in the private sector. I want to take my private sector experience and use it to fix what’s broken and make this works for the residents of Miami Beach.

COMMISSION?GROUP?1:

Micky Steinberg

You have been on Miami Beach for how long?

Since I was 6 years old (31 years)

Your Profession is? A Realtor

Your age is? 37

A personal or business accomplishment that you are proud of?

While I have been successful as a Realtor involved in transactions of multimillion dollar properties, having two amazing children is my proudest accomplishment.

What is it about public office that attracts you?

Having grown up in Miami Beach and now raising my own children here, I believe the Commission will give me the opportunity to make my city better for them and everyone who calls Miami Beach home.

What should your fellow Beach residents know about you?

I have been civically involved for more than a decade. Not only have I served on city boards (Police Citizens Relations Committee and The Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority), but I have had an inside view of how the commission functions. This makes me uniquely qualified and poised to hit the ground running to put Miami Beach first.

What should your opposing candidates know about you?

Not to underestimate my passion and ability to serve Miami Beach.

What is one main qualifying issue of your candidacy?

My deep passion and understanding for the city I grew up in coupled with my experience makes me uniquely qualified to be productive on the commission from day one.

The first thing you will attempt to change about Miami Beach if you are elected?

First, make local government more accessible, responsive and transparent. I will bring a fresh voice of reason and common sense solutions to counter the polarizing dialogue we often associate with ‘politics’. I want to take the politics out of our local issues and shine a light on corruption, negligence and mismanagement. I want to restore civility to the commission. When it comes to city government, we must create a culture where corruption is intolerable and customer service paramount.

COMMISSION?GROUP?1:

Sherry Roberts

You have been on Miami Beach for how long?

I bought my first condo in 1996. I have been an activist on Miami Beach almost that long. I am a Miami Beach resident and have been for many years. Not only is my residency here but my heart is here. I have chosen to live here because I think this is one of the greatest cities in the United States.

Your Profession is?

I am a Florida Licensed Real Estate Broker. I own South Beach Boutique Realty on Lincoln Road and have sold millions of dollars of real estate on the beach. I am also a Florida Licensed Condominium Association Manager although I do not work as a CAM. I took the courses and acquired this credential to be better prepared in condominium leadership and for condominium real estate which is my specialty. I am also COO of Psychological Transitions a health care practice that specializes in services to seniors. Thanks to technology I can do this work while living in Miami Beach.

Your age is?

66. This is a great age. I have raised my family and my businesses are running with very competent staff so I have more time and resources than I had at earlier stages of my life. I have my health, immense energy and the passion for the city I love and the causes I believe in-equal rights and social justice for vulnerable populations.

A personal or business accomplishment that you are proud of?

Of course, first and foremost, I am proud of the family we have created. Alice and I have been together 30 years and have raised three successful sons who have loving and respectful partners and we have four grandchildren.

In 2012 I was honored to be named “A Woman Worth Knowing” by the Miami Beach Commission on Women. During the nomination speech I was acknowledged for community service especially my work with seniors, women and members of the LGBT community. As an activist I am energized by seeing change and am not motivated by awards or accolades however it is incredibly humbling to be so honored.

What is it about public office that attracts you?

I am attracted to public office by the opportunity to make a difference in Miami Beach, which I chose as my home and as a place to establish a new business. The Miami Beach Commission leads by majority vote and hopefully by consensus, which is developed through complex conversations. I look forward to add my vision and my voice to the decision making process. After many years of volunteering with various segments of the community and having walked the path of a trend setting businesswoman and barrier breaking lesbian as well as a member of the Jewish community, I know that I have the diverse perspective and requisite skills and knowledge to be effective. I am ready now to take on the challenge of government as a commissioner of Miami Beach. This is an important job and difficult job and not one for a novice or the faint of heart.

What should your fellow Beach residents know about you?

I believe in consensus and compromise in the interest of the greater good and civility in the process of government, however I am also strong enough to fight for what I believe is right, even when it is not politically popular. I have the most relevant leadership experience, am a successful small businesswoman and have a broad base of community service.

What should your opposing candidates know about you?

I know that we all care deeply about Miami Beach and that we are all dedicated family women. We are all mothers and two of us are grandmothers and family core values are necessary for the kind of leadership that Miami Beach needs, however these alone are not sufficient. Good intentions are not sufficient. Each of us has been involved in charitable works and although admirable, these alone are not sufficient to prepare a person for the job of commissioner. Along with these characteristics that we all share in some varying degree, the job of commissioner requires experience in the areas that are relevant to the work of the commission such as developing and overseeing large budgets, leadership of boards with quasi-judicial authority, experience working within the confines of a system defined by ordinances and rules. A commissioner needs involvement with and an understanding of diversity that defines this city and the confidence of the people she represents.

A campaign does not have to include personal attacks or nastiness. It should be a forum that fairly and honestly allows the voters to know the candidate and to select the best applicant for the job. A campaign should not make up false scenarios to distract from the qualifications of one candidate or distract from the absence of qualifications of another candidate.

What is one main qualifying issue of your candidacy?

I am not sure if this question is designed to elicit the most qualifying issue facing the city or the most significant issue of my qualifications as a candidate and ultimately as a commissioner, so I will answer it both ways.

As I have said in my campaign literature, I have concerns about the convention center project, unfunded pension liabilities, corruption and effectiveness of city employees, civility among leaders, and the flooding and storm water drainage issues. In talking to residents we hear many asking about the convention center, however if I had to choose I would say the flooding and storm water management issues represent the greatest threat to the very survival of Miami Beach as we know it. We need to educate residents that storm water management and high tide crises are somewhat separate issues and that the solutions are complex with a mix of short term and long-range projects. After study and as a member of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce Hi-Tide sub committee and Chair of the Flood Plain Management Board, I believe the current 20-year master plan is not adequate. I also believe that we need to start with management of the high tide and effect of climate change NOW. Obviously we have waited too long and the longer we wait the greater the financial burden will be as well as the damage from past neglect. We had a street collapse last week due to the flooding. Will building foundations be next?

As far as my candidacy is concerned I reiterate the importance of relevant experience, which includes a thorough knowledge of the issues. I have acquired this over many years of observation and participation in civic affairs.

The first thing you will attempt to change about Miami Beach if you are elected?

First I will thank the voters for their support and add my voice and skills to healing the wounds from this very divisive election cycle.

The next priority would be to work with the new mayor to develop a more realistic agenda and meeting time management so the business of government is not conducted at midnight.

I believe the convention center project should be in the forefront of the commission work and I support a realistic and affordable convention center with a ballroom and some green space. The city has the funds to do this now. I am opposed to 99-year leases of city property and a 52-acre mega center.

COMMISSION?GROUP?1:

Elsa Urquiza

You have been on Miami Beach for how long?

I am a Miami Beach resident for 52 years and counting.

Your Profession is?

Retired from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after 35 years. Currently, I manage my own real estate properties in Miami Beach.

Your age is?

I am 67 years old

A personal or business accomplishment that you are proud of?

My personal accomplishment has been to raise and educate my family to be productive members of the community. In addition, I am very proud to have worked defending people against discriminatory practices for 35 years when it was neither popular nor trendy to do so.

What is it about public office that attracts you?

Helping people and public service.

What should your fellow Beach residents know about you? 

That I am the most qualified and experienced candidate in this contest. I have an extensive record of business, government, and community service. I will not bow down to special interests. I will be an independent thinker and make decisions that are best for our quality of life. Moreover, I will dedicate 100% of my time to representing all that live, work and visit Miami Beach with the dignity and respect that all deserve.

What should your opposing candidates know about you?

That I will fight for every vote, but will do so with honesty, integrity, and based on the truth.

What is one main qualifying issue of your candidacy?

To make sure that the Convention Center is renovated so that we can keep Miami Beach on a competitive level, but not at the cost of the quality of life of the residents.

The first thing you will attempt to change about Miami Beach if you are elected?

The way the Commission meetings are conducted. I look forward to establishing an environment of proper decorum and professionalism, not only among the Commission Members, but also for members of the public that appear before their government. The Commission works for the people, not visa versa.

COMMISSION?GROUP?1:

Mohammed Rafiqul Islam

COMMISSION?GROUP?2:

Michael Grieco

You have been on Miami Beach for how long?

13 years

Your Profession is? Attorney

Your age is? 38

A personal or business accomplishment that you are proud of?

Being able to find balance amongst my many family, professional and philanthropic responsibilities.

What is it about public office that attracts you?

Public office is simply an outlet to do more for my community and make it a better place to raise my family in. I have worked in city, state, and federal government, from a garbage truck to the courtroom to Capitol Hill in D.C., I have covered the spectrum. Serving my local community in a more official capacity is now a natural progression from my neighborhood activism.

What should your fellow Beach residents know about you?

I am a proud father, activist, philanthropist and local attorney that has found the campaigning experience equally humbling and inspiring. 6000+ doors knocked on since April and I not only think that I am the most qualified candidate in this group, but I know the type of change and vision that residents are craving for. The incumbent is out of touch with the people.

What should your opposing candidates know about you?

They already know it…I will not be outworked. I will bring my work ethic to city hall as a Commissioner.

What is one main qualifying issue of your candidacy?

Honesty. I have run a clean, honest campaign focused on the issues our city faces. I have been defamed and smeared by the opposition yet I continue to discuss the issues, my qualifications, and the incumbent’s record during his tenure.

The first thing you will attempt to change about Miami Beach if you are elected?

The thought process in city hall. The general approach has been, and I write this from both personal experience and from resident anecdotes, that the customer is usually wrong. The customer, the taxpayer, the voter, the resident, should be treated with respect and deference. The city staff and Commission serve at the pleasure of the electorate and should remember that every day, not just during the months leading up to an actual election.

COMMISSION?GROUP?2:

David Crystal

You have been on Miami Beach for how long?

9 years

Your Profession is?

Owner of Crystal Clear Tutors and licensed financial advisor

Your age is? 36

A personal or business accomplishment that you are proud of?

I was the youngest-ever Investment Manager Research Analyst in Merrill Lynch history.

What is it about public office that attracts you?

The ability to pursue justice, fight corruption and wasteful spending, and work to put more money back into the pockets of taxpayers, where it belongs!

What should your fellow Beach residents know about you?

That I have already accomplished more good for the community as a private citizen than most commissioners do as Commissioner:

In 2010 Dave Crystal became the first candidate in history to post all employee salaries on a website for everyone to view, and in the process educated the public as to how our money is being spent. If you go to CrystalforCommissioner.com you can download the updated version of 2012 total compensation.

• In 2010, Dave Crystal was also the first candidate to draw public attention to the pension liabilities ballooning out of control. As a result, the Commission has finally negotiated more seriously with the unions, bringing the unfunded liabilities down from $580 million to $420 million.

• Also in 2011, Dave Crystal exposed the 2-year-pension buyback scandal, and as a result no one in City Hall is anymore submitting bogus buyback applications.

What should your opposing candidates know about you?
That it doesn’t matter how much money they spend; they can’t buyout the truth. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter how many times they use my talking points from 4 years ago; the people of Miami Beach are smart enough to Google the candidates and figure out who built the bandwagon and who is hopping onto the back of it several years later.

What is one main qualifying issue of your candidacy?
The fight against wasteful spending and corruption in City Hall.  I have led that fight for years while both my opponents remained silent.

The first thing you will attempt to change about Miami Beach if you are elected?
I will fight hard to create the office of an independent Inspector General of Miami Beach whose full-time job it will be to monitor all employees and find and root out all corruption, malfeasance and nonfeasance.

COMMISSION?GROUP?2:

Jorge Exposito (incumbent)
You have been in Miami Beach how Long?
I have lived in Miami Beach for 35 years, since 1978.
Your Age?
-I am 58 years old, or old enough to vote and run for elected office.
A personal business accomplpishment that you are proud of?
Business:I am sisx sigma certified by GE. I have been able to utililze this training in securing significant pension reform for Miami Beach..
Personal: I am a proud father of two great sons and a husband to a wonderful wife.  I am proud to have been married 35 yeas and together we have raised responsible and caring young men who are both assets to our community
What is it about public service that attracts you?
-The ability to impact the lives of others in a positive way and make changes for the betterment of our city.. Protect our residents quality of life.
What should your fellow beach residents know about you?
Every vote I make I do so with the best interest of our residents.  I have always been and will continue to be the voice of our residents.
 What should your opposing candidates know about you?
I am a nice guy but do not confuse that for weakness.
What is one main qualifying issue on your candidancy?
I have earned the trust of our community and I have brought ethics and honesty to the City of Miami Beach Commission.
The first thing you will attempt to change about Miami Beach if you are re- elected?
Work to enhance our public transportation system.

COMMISSION?GROUP?3:
Roger Abramson
You have been in Miami Beach how Long? 
I and my family moved to Miami Beach full time in 1987
Your Profession is?
I am a Professional Arts and Entertainment Administrator/Producer

Your age is?  79
A personal or business accomplishment that you are proud of?
I am the 21st Person Inducted into the Civil Rights Hall of Fame. Producer of some of the most well known artists and attractions
From the New York City Ballet and the Metropolitan Opera to the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley plus many more.
What is it about public office that attracts you?
I have a long history of Community Service. This year is an important time in the city of Miami Beach with a new commission that I would like to be part of.
What should your fellow Beach residents know about you?
My fellow citizens should know of my history of public service and activism and can see a detailed history of my background at Wikipedia.org
What should your opposing candidates know about you?
I will respect their candidacy and I am proud of my integrity.
What is one main qualifying issue of your candidacy?
I am on the Convention Center Advisory Board and I have more information on Conventions, the need to bring our Convention Center up to date and to stop all of the mis-information that many of them are disseminating.
The first thing you will attempt to change about Miami Beach if you are elected?
Compatibility and Civility in our Commission and between the residents quality of life issues and out major industry…tourism.

COMMISSION?GROUP?3:

Joy Malakoff
You have been on Miami Beach for how long?
I grew up in Miami Beach, attended North Beach Elementary School, Nautilus, and Miami Beach High School; graduated as Valedictorian; attended Radcliffe, graduated University of Miami cum laude.  I live in the home my grandparents bought in 1940, so have very long, multi-generational ties to Miami Beach. My three children attended the same public schools as well.
Your Profession is?
Community Banker for 32 years, in Miami Beach.  Retired October 1, 2011.
Your age is?  77
A personal or business accomplishment that you are proud of?
Receiving five keys to the City of Miami Beach from different Mayors for my services to the City, Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award from the Jewish Museum, the annual Jan Pfeiffer Community Service Award from the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, appointment to Miami-Dade County’s Community Relations Board, Citizen of the Year award from the Miami Beach Board of Realtors, and the Woman Worth Knowing award from the City of Miami Beach.  Also, opening three new branches for two banks, all located in Miami Beach,  bringing personal service and financial advice to residents and business owners.
What is it about public office that attracts you?
Life is about what matters.  Miami Beach really matters to me.  I have served the City for more than 40 years as an original member of the Historic Preservation Board, Chair of the Planning Board for seven years, vice-chair for four, and six years as Chair of the Board of Adjustment.  I also chaired the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce for three years. Most recently I served again on the Board of Adjustment. During the past several years I realized the city was not heading in the right direction.  I will use my financial knowledge, professional and community experience, and my land use and urban planning experience to bring new directions, fresh ideas and financial stability to the city.
What should your fellow Beach residents know about you?
One, I will honor the intent and spirit of our city’s term limit law.  Two, I won’t accept a bad deal for the Miami Beach Convention Center that allows a few people to make a lot of money at the public’s expense.  Three, I will protect taxpayers’ financial interests over that of any special interest group.
What should your opposing candidates know about you?
I am an honorable, independent thinking person, out for the good of the community, not to become an entrenched politician.
What is one main qualifying issue of your candidacy?
I will uphold the spirit and intent of the City Charter’s term limits on politicians.
The first thing you will attempt to change about Miami Beach if you are elected?
I will bring ethics, professionalism, decorum, and good customer service to City Hall.

COMMISSION?GROUP?3:

Matti Bower
You have been on Miami Beach for how long?
40 years.
Your Profession is?
Community Activist, Mayor
Your age is?
74:  I am proud to be the youngest person in my race.
A personal or business accomplishment that you are proud of?
I am proud of my accomplishments for our children, including our parks programs and our International Baccalaureate program that is available for all of our public school children.  My efforts in Historic Preservation have yielded the City of Miami Beach several listings on the National Register of Historic Places, including our landmark Architectural District.  This emphasis on design has acted as a magnet to attract a collection of structures by current Pritzker-Prize winning architects that is unmatched anywhere in the world. My leadership on preserving Miami Dade County’s legacy Convention Center in Miami Beach will serve as an economic stabilization program for decades to come.  I am also humbled by the support the residents and business of this community continue to show to me by the outpouring of encouragement to continue my public service on the City Commission.
What is it about public office that attracts you?
The ability to make a positive difference in the lives of our residents and make a lasting contribution to the community I so dearly love.
What should your fellow Beach residents know about you?
I collect cookie jars and those little bride and grooms from the tops of wedding cakes.
What should your opposing candidates know about you?
The truth will set you free.
What is one main qualifying issue of your candidacy?
I am qualified for public office because I keep an open mind.  I have no special interests above the interests of the City of Miami Beach.  I ask a lot of questions so that I may make the best informed decision I can.
The first thing you will attempt to change about Miami Beach if you are elected?
This is an interesting question to me.  While there may be many challenges that we face, I do not believe there is anything inherently “wrong” with the City that needs to be “changed.”  I am running “for” The City of Miami Beach.  Many politicians feel they must “run against” the City to attract voters.  I do hope that the new mayor and commission will stay the course on the Convention Center project and move forward with enhanced public transportation through a North Beach circulator and dedicated light rail connection with the mainland.

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