Miami Beach has cleaned up a lot of issues in the past year, Góngora said. Weve moved in a new direction.
The way Philip Levine tells the story, he started off with $500 in a studio apartment above the News Cafe on Ocean Drive.
Now the 51-year-old is a multimillionaire with businesses in the cruise industry and real estate development in Miami Beach.
Not bad for a guy who grew up in Massachusetts as a poor kid with a single mom, Levine told a reporter in 2012.
Levine touts his business acumen, saying hed run City Hall like the private sector would.
The residents want to be treated as customers. Thats what theyre looking for, Levine said.
To fix the citys dizzying permitting and inspection processes, Levine said the city should outline how long certain processes will take by posting notices on the walls. If a permit or process takes longer than advertised, then it should be free, Levine said.
Im running to fix whats broken, Levine told a crowd of supporters at a campaign event.
His business record has also been under attack, though. Earlier this year, Levines company agreed to a consent judgment in Alaska. His company agreed to pay $45,000 and to have its port lecturers disclose whether the companies they were recommending were paying for the publicity. Levine said the company wasnt doing business in Alaska at the time, but paid the settlement to be able to do so.
Levine has bankrolled his own campaign to the tune of $1.2 million. He calls his campaign events Friendraisers. Contributions arent required, and Levine picks up the tab.
Levine says thats proof he wont be beholden to special interests.
You cant take the kings shilling, and not become the kings man, he has repeated on the campaign trail.
His opponents arent buying it.
Levine has myriad real estate investments along with Scott Robins, a prolific Miami Beach developer. He owns 31 properties throughout Florida, 18 of which are in the Beach, according to his financial disclosure.
If you get into office, Berke said to Levine at a debate, theres nothing that us regular residents can do to stop you from passing your agenda with your developer partners and ignoring the quality life of our residents.
Levine mostly brushes this off, and instead paints himself as a populist: He has learned Spanish to speak with a crucial Beach voting bloc.He qualified for office not by paying the fee, but by collecting 1,500 signatures only the second candidate to do so in the city since at least 1996.
For this, he was commended by an old friend: Former President Bill Clinton. Clinton stopped by Levines campaign headquarters earlier this month to announce his support of Levines run.
I know hes competent. I know he cares about the people, Clinton told a roomful of Levine supporters. I wish you well and I thank you for helping my friend, because hell make a great mayor.
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