The race for Miami Beach Commission Group III has generated the least in campaign contributions — surprising because the current mayor is among the hopefuls, and incumbents usually enjoy a fundraising edge.
Facing off for the seat are: community activist Roger Abramson, current mayor Matti Herrera Bower, who is term limited from her current post, and retired community banker Joy Malakoff.
Together, the candidates have raised $112,000.
Sometimes, a candidate’s campaign finance reports can give voters a good idea about where he or she stands on issues important to voters.
Here is a look at their campaign finance reports.
Abramson has raised the least among his group: about $7,000. Of that, he has loaned about $5,000. He has repaid himself about $1,000 so far.
Abramson’s contributors include only 11 people. About half of those identify themselves as retirees.
“I am trying to do it pretty much myself,” Abramson said. “I was a little against going to developers. I thought if I go to developers, then I become like their ‘person’ ... and I think that the amount of money that is spent on these campaigns is a little over the top. The money could go to other sources.”
He doesn’t think his fundraising poses a problem, though. Abramson was a concert producer and promoter of some of the biggest rock groups of the 1960s and 70s.
“My business was that of being a good marketer/promoter,” he said.
Matti Herrera Bower
Bower has raised the second-most in the group, about $43,000. She has not invested any of her own money into the campaign.
Bower’s contributors includes about $8,000 from people or companies involved in real estate. About $8,500 has been donated from businesses in the hospitality industry, such as hotels.
Miami Beach has been moving toward a billion-dollar renovation of its convention center district. Current plans call for a hotel to be added to the area, so the hospitality industry has an interest in what happens there. Miami Beach also relies heavily on its tourism industry and tax to boost the city’s coffers.
Bower has been supportive of the current convention center plan, which calls for a $500 million, taxpayer-funded renovation of the convention center. Private developers would pay to build and run a hotel, as well as shops and restaurants across the 52-acre site. The developer would pay the city rent to build in the district, since the land is publically-owned.
Other contributions include preservationists — Bower has long been known for her activism in historic preservation — and retirees.
Preservationists have recently stepped-up efforts to save historic homes from demolition. They say architecturally-significant single-family homes are being destroyed at a faster pace than ever before and want to see more protections. Others worry that tighter regulations could trample on property rights.
Bower, meanwhile, says that sea level rise is increasingly being used as a reason to demolish low-lying buildings.
“I have to be vigilant,” to preserve important buildings, Bower said.
Despite running for office for the first time, Malakoff is the top fundraiser of her group. She has raised about $62,000.
Her contributors are varied and include retirees, business people and those with real estate interests.
About $12,000 has poured in from companies related to Miami Beach mayoral candidate Philip Levine, a wealthy businessman who is self-funding his campaign. Some of the companies through which the donations came are also held in partnership with Beach developer Scott Robins.
The contributions have fueled ongoing speculation that candidates are running together in “slates.” A slate refers to a group of candidates who coordinate campaigns and often agree on central issues.
Malakoff has often been lumped in with Michael Grieco, who is running for Commission Group II, and Levine.
They, however, point out that Bower seems to be running a campaign in tandem with Commissioner Jorge Exposito, who is running for reelection, and Commissioner Michael Góngora, who is running for mayor. The group has appeared in ads together.
“I’m not in a slate. I am friends with Philip. I have been friends with him for 25 years,” Malakoff said.
She added that she had never met Grieco before this election.
Malakoff, a retired community banker, said her donors include retired teachers and old friends.
“I haven’t received any donations from nightclub owners, gambling interests, hotel owners and strip clubs,” she said. “My support has been more in businesses.. .. I think it’s because of my reputation on the Beach.”
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