Perhaps to many it seems like just a short time ago that Zavier Garcia was busy celebrating with his family in the Majestic Room at the Miami Springs Country Club over his winning the Miami Springs mayoral election, with Dan Espino, George Lob and Jennifer Ator all smiles as well after winning council seats.
But that was actually 22 months ago and, just like that, it’s time for another Miami Springs municipal election. The big day will arrive on Tuesday, April 2 as Miami Springs voters will be asked to go to the poll and cast their ballot, but plenty is going to happen between now and then. And, right now, some of that is the question as to who is going to be running for what.
The filing deadline is still a little more than two weeks away (Friday, Feb. 15, 4:45 p.m.), but plenty of names are already in the mix as far as who will be on the ballots and at the forefront will be the race for mayor.
Garcia will run for a second straight term and will not only be challenged, but will be opposed by one of his fellow council members. Ator will not seek a third term in the Group IV seat she was elected to in 2009, instead electing to run against Garcia for the mayor’s gavel.
“Two years ago, I was hopeful that Zavier Garcia would be able to maintain the collaborative spirit and tempo that Mayor (Billy) Bain had been able to create,” Ator wrote in an e-mail. “After the revelations about the mayor’s issues immediately after the 2011 elections, there was discussion of a recall and a call for me to replace him. At that time I spoke against a recall effort explaining there was too much to do in the city to be wasting time and money on a recall effort.
“Unfortunately, the last two years have shown that he is far better suited to campaigning than he is to leading. It has been very disappointing. While choosing to run for re-election in Group IV may have been an easier course for me personally, it was not the right choice for me as a leader, and it would not have been the best choice for the citizens of Miami Springs.”
Garcia said there was never any hesitation that he would seek another term.
“I am running for mayor again because I love Miami Springs ... and I have some unfinished business,” Garcia said via e-mail. “I would like to finish improving our commercial tax base, including but not limited to, bringing more 3- to 5-star hotels to 36th Street, the beautification of downtown and 36th Street commercial areas, more recreational programs for our youth as well as our seniors, putting the Curtiss Mansion on the map, getting the budget balanced and, most importantly, annexation. Given the opportunity by the voters, I will accomplish everything mentioned so our property values will improve and the council and I will be able to lower the tax rate.
“This campaign is no different than the others. I am running a campaign for me, not against anyone else. This council has accomplished some significant things in these two short years with me as mayor, and I would like the opportunity to do even more.”
While the Garcia vs. Ator race figures to be interesting, another significant storyline will be the fact that former mayor Billy Bain is jumping back into the political arena as well.