Time For A Change


Eighteen-year-old Jorge DeFrias walked into the Miami Beach library voting Elections Office on election day, Tuesday November 5 with both a smile and serious intentions.

It was the first time he was voting, and had being looking forward to this day, since his birthday several months earlier.

“I studied all the candidates seriously, I read the papers, watched the news and was very happy with my choices.” he said. “I am happy to say that all but one of my candidates made it.”

DeFrias voted for Philip Levine for mayor and the rest of his choices all went into a run off. So it was with extra excitement that brought him once again to the library to exercise his right to vote a second time.

“I like the new candidates,” he said, “I think it is time for a fresh perspective.”

DeFrias ultimately chose Matti Bower over Joy Malakoff.

“I chose Bower because she stands for preservation and that is important. I don’t want Miami Beach to lose it’s history.” he said

That sentiment was echoed over and over by voters throughout this election.

Miami Beach voters agreed with him, except for Bower, when they went back to the polls and elected in Group 1, Micky Steinberg, In Group 2, Michael Grieco and in Group 3, Joy Malakoff. The new commissioners will join newly elected Mayor Philip Levine and current sitting commissioners Jonah Wolfson, Ed Tobin and Deede Weithorn.

Out are Mayor Matti Bower, Jorge Exposito, Michael Gongora and Jerry Libben (who will term out).

The numbers are very close in these races, with only 7,239 ballots cast in Tuesdays runoff.

Some have said the low voter turn-out is because of the barrage of negative mailers that the PACS and the candidates mailed out.

But ultimately, this has been one of the dirtiest elections Miami Beach has seen in years. Voters and residents were subjected to a barrage of PAC mailings, attack ads, multiple lawsuits and bullying at the polls. It is also the first time in recent Miami Beach history, that candidates running for office were sued by those covering the elections for blogs and columns.

But residents can breathe a sigh of relief, because this election cycle is over for the next two years. Left in it’s wake though, is noise about a federal investigation into some of the practices of the candidates and those close to them.

But looking ahead, Miami Beach voters are very optimistic for the future.

Auske Ruvokaite, who attended Levine’s victory party told the Miami Herald that she was happy because the beach will finally see an honest mayor.

“He’s a straight-shooter,” said Ruvokaite, who has lived on the beach for 7 years since moving from Lithuania.

First business for the new mayor and commissioners to tackle when they are sworn-in November 25, is the convention center and whether it gets built. Another pending issue is historic home preservation.

“I am anxiously waiting to see what will happen, now that Matti Bower is gone.” said DeFrias via phone on Wednesday morning. “I don’t know where anyone else stands on that issue. I guess it’s wait and see.”

Marie Schwartz, who has lived on South Beach for 37 years was elated by the results.

“Miami Beach finally caught a clue! We are tired of the corruption and the shenanigans that have gone on in City Hall. Hopefully now we can get back to honest business.” Said Schwartz. “We voted for change!”

Election By The Numbers

Precincts Counted: 37 (100%)

Absentee Precincts Counted: 1

Registered Voters – Total: 44,751

Ballots Cast – Total: 7,239

Voter Turnout – Total: 16.18%

Group 1 City Commission Seat Votes:

Micky Steinberg: 3,637 = 53.06%

Elsa Urquiza: 3,218 = 46.94%

Group 2 City Commission Seat Votes:

Jorge Exposito: 3,240 = 46.33%

Michael Grieco: 3,754 = 53.67%

Group 3 City Commission Seat Votes:

Matti Herrera Bower: 2,841 = 40.29%

Joy Malakoff: 4,210% = 59.71%

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