Miami Beach

Bay Harbor Islands

Bay Harbor Islands council election is April 1


Special to the Miami Herald

Bay Harbor Islands residents will have three candidates to choose from for two seats on the Town Council in the April 1 election.

The candidate that gets the most votes will get a four-year term, while the candidate that comes in second will get the two-years remaining in the term vacated by former councilman Francisco Temprano, who resigned in August because he was moving to Weston.

Vice Mayor Jordan Leonard is seeking re-election and is campaigning with council member Joshua Fuller, who was appointed to the council on September 26, 2013 to fill Temprano’s seat until the election.

The other candidate running for the four-year term is resident Paul Ruthfield, who is former mayor Linda Zilber’s partner.

Zilber served as a council member for eight years before losing an election to Ken Weinstein and Ileene Wallace, who also were former mayors of the town.

Leonard, 36, who grew up in Bay Harbor Islands, has over a decade of political experience and said he stands for a better quality of life, and greener initiatives.

He sponsored programs such as park improvements, the new 98th Street park, and opting into a state program that provides an additional $50,000 homestead exemption for low-income seniors, Bay Harbor’s first public electrical-vehicle charging station, the town’s bike-sharing and -rental program, and the Property Assessed Clean Energy program, which helps residential property owners finance energy-efficient home improvements.

Fuller, a practicing attorney for 15 years, said he wants to maintain the way of life for Bay Harbor Islands and increase the town’s services. He recently voted in favor of the new 98th Street park, and the animal-rights ordinance that was tentatively passed by the Town Council earlier this month. Both votes were unanimous.

Fuller, 40, has been living in Bay Harbor for about 11 years and is the current chairman of the town’s Charter and Ordinance Committee, which recommends changes to the town’s charter and ordinances.

“Growth is coming, but there has to be smart management for growth,” he said when he first got on the council.

Fuller, who has three small children, has also stated he is a firm believer in the new 98th street park and in improving Kane Concourse. He says he wants to bring more business to town business owners by bringing in people from outside of the town.

Ruthfield said that the town made the wrong decision in making the new 98th Street park a children’s park.

“The council of the town of Bay Harbor Islands has just authorized the building of a fourth Tot Lot at a cost of $670,000. This has been done while there are no facilities at all provided for the teens, adults or seniors. In fact, one of the council members stated ‘he would have approved the initial $900,000 plan for the park.’ This does not include the $3 million cost for the acquisition of the land,” he says.

He also says he wants to restore the town’s reputation of being a premiere community and return Kane Concourse to a high quality shopping and dining destination.

Ruthfield, 75, has lived in Bay Harbor Islands since June 2012. He also has 46 years of experience as a financial advisor.

He has openly stated that Bay Harbor Islands needs parks for 10- to 18-year-olds. "They’re the ones that get into trouble; they’re the ones that need it," Ruthfield recently said in a town hall meeting.

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