Miami Beach Commissioner Jorge Exposito faces two challengers — tutoring company owner Dave Crystal and criminal-defense lawyer Michael Grieco — in the Group II commission race.
The election is Nov. 5, but early voting starts Monday. Two other commission seats and the mayor’s seat are also up for election.
Here’s a look at each candidate’s background, and their stances on important issues.
Crystal unsuccessfully ran for Miami Beach mayor in 2011. Born in New York, he moved to Miami Beach nine years ago.
Court records show his bank and condo association started the foreclosure process on his condo in 2009 and 2010. The case was later dropped. Crystal said he stopped paying his mortgage and maintenance fees so that he could short-sell his unit.
If elected, Crystal says he will create an office of the inspector general for the city, change the city’s pension system and bring employees salaries in line with similar private- and public-sector fields.
• Inspector general: Since his run in 2011, Crystal has lambasted the city as corrupt. In the past few years, several Miami Beach employees have been arrested on public corruption charges.
Crystal says he would create an office of the inspector general, which he says would pay for itself because it would catch wasteful and illegitimate spending.
“Essentially it will be a watchdog organization,” Crystal said.
The employees of the IG office would work mostly undercover and in conjunction with residents in the hopes of catching corruption as they try to navigate the city government, Crystal said.
• Pensions: Crystal says he would make two major changes to the current pension system, which he says is unsustainable. The first change would be to move to a hybrid defined-contribution plan and defined-benefit plan. Currently, the city has a defined-benefit plan, which means employees are entitled to fixed payments, no matter how the retirement fund’s investments perform.
“We cannot guarantee certain payouts in a world that is so economically insecure,” Crystal said. “This ensures the employees will share some of the risks.”
Secondly, he says overtime pay should “never” be factored into calculating the employee’s pension payments. Under changes recently negotiated with most of the city’s unions, extra pay such as overtime in capped at 11 percent of the employee’s salary when calculating pensionable salary.
• Wasteful spending: When Crystal ran in 2011, he posted all Miami Beach employees’ salaries online with the header “Warning this may shock you!” As employee salaries rise, so do pension costs. Crystal says he would work to reduce employee salaries so that they are comparable to what people in the same fields in the public- and private-sector are making.
The candidate also wants to see more master planning done when it comes to the city city’s capital improvement projects. He says that a lack of coordination for construction projects can sometimes lead to the same roads being torn up multiple times, which is a waste of money.
Exposito was first elected in 2009. He ran unsuccessfully for a commission seat in 1992.
Born in Cuba, Exposito has lived in Miami Beach for 35 years. He has been married to his wife for as long. They have two grown sons together.