The nine candidates vying for office in the 2013 Miami Springs election got their first chance to share their views with residents this past Monday, March 11 at the Miami Springs Lions Club.
Sponsored by the Miami Springs Woman’s Club, the event was an informal “Meet the Candidates” luncheon. Residents had the opportunity to talk to any of the candidates for close to an hour on the grounds of the Lions Club before the event moved inside for lunch.
After a potluck lunch, with all the dishes provided by Woman’s Club members, each candidate was given two minutes to speak and tell those in attendance about their background and/or their political views.
“I like this event,” said Mayor Zavier Garcia, who is running for re-election. “I only wish that there would be more of these throughout the election cycle so more people could become informed.”
Said Jennifer Ator, who is giving up her council seat in Group IV to run against Garcia: “This is the first event we’ve had. I appreciate the Woman’s Club for sponsoring it. It’s nice to get out and talk to people who you don’t normally see every day. I’ve met a lot of great people here and I’m glad so many people from the community took the opportunity to come.”
The Senior Center will be hosting similar meet-and-greets on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon before the candidates gather again in a more formal setting for the “Candidates Forum” on Friday, March 22 at 7 p.m. at the Miami Springs Community Center. For that event, residents will have the chance to write out questions for the candidates.
The event at the Lions Club was more of a casual affair.
Approximately 60 people showed up, including family and friends of the candidates.
Along with Garcia and Ator, the candidates who attended included Alex Anthony, Miguel Becerra, Helen Lawrence, Nestor Suarez and Michael Windrem for the Group I seat; and Constantino Hernandez and Jaime Petralanda in Group IV.
Billy Bain (Group II) and George Lob (Group III) are both running unopposed and did not attend Monday’s event.
For political newcomers like Anthony, Becerra, Suarez and Hernandez, the “Meet the Candidates” luncheon provided a first chance at meeting residents.
“I loved it,” Anthony said. “I thought it was a great opportunity for the candidates to give their opinions. I enjoyed meeting everybody here doing this thing. It’s the first event. It’s my first time doing public speaking in about 15 years. So I was very excited about it.”
Said Suarez: “It’s a fantastic event. Everybody can get to know candidates, talk to them one-on-one before the actual luncheon itself and then to hear briefly why they’re running, who they are a little bit. It was a great turnout and I’m really happy that so many folks came out to hear what we had to say. It was pretty impressive and (I’m) very happy to have been participating.”
For residents, the event provided an opportunity to make known their complaints or grievances.