Early voting for Miami Beach’s runoff elections will take place Saturday and Sunday, with regular voting scheduled for Tuesday.
Three commission seats are still up for grabs. None of the candidates were able to garner the 50 percent plus one vote needed to win outright during the general election earlier this month.
Philip Levine won the mayorship without the need for a runoff in the first round of voting.
Here is a rundown of the races.
This is Steinberg’s first run for political office. In round one of voting, she led a pack of four candidates with almost 38 percent of the vote.
On the campaign trail, Steinberg, 37, emphasizes that she’s a young mother with four generations of family members currently living in the Beach.
“We head into the runoff in first place because the voters believe in my positive message of ending corruption and putting our quality of life first,” she said.
Her priorities, if elected, include: restoring confidence in City Hall after a slew of high-profile corruption scandals; tackling flooding issues; and strengthening the city’s schools.
Steinberg is the wife of former state Rep. Richard Steinberg, who resigned after sending stalker-like texts to a federal prosecutor. At least one of Urquiza’s campaign mailers makes a point of this. “Miami Beach has had ENOUGH of the STEINBERG SCANDALS,” it says in red bold letters.
Replied Micky Steinberg: “In this day and age, to insinuate that a woman is nothing more than a spouse to her husband is cowardly and nothing short of a continued attack on women.”
Urquiza, 67, manages real estate properties she owns on the Beach. During the general election, she earned about 32 percent of the vote.
If elected, Urquiza says she will push to down-scale the Beach’s billion-dollar plan to renovate its 52-acre convention center district. She will also encourage public transportation between Miami Beach and the mainland, and focus on fixing the city’s flooding problems.
Campaign mailers claim Urquiza’s rental properties are rat infested and have “overflowing raw sewage.” City records show Urquiza was issued a code violation because a rental unit had rats and mice, but the violation notes that Urquiza was taking care of the problem.
City records also show there was a vague complaint made about “human waste flowing in the waters of Miami Beach,” but the complaint was deemed invalid. Furthermore, it was filed by someone who lives in a building where Urquiza owns a condo — Urquiza does not own the building.
Sitting Commissioner Jorge Exposito is fighting for reelection against political newcomer Michael Grieco for Commission Group II. In the first round of voting, Exposito garnered about 46 percent of the vote, to Grieco’s 35 percent.
Exposito, 58, was first elected in 2009. He wants another term on the dais to continue work on reducing the city’s expensive pension obligations, providing funding to schools for training programs and cleaning up the city’s most heavily visited areas.
Born in Cuba, Exposito said he’s running to make sure the commission retains its diversity “to allow for healthy discussions and differences in opinions.”
“I have a long-standing, vested interest in the community. I want to see it grow and improve,” he added.
Grieco, 38, is a criminal defense attorney who wants to tackle basic issues like cleaning up parks and fixing potholes.
Among the most pressing issues Grieco says he would address as a commissioner: scaling-back the city’s convention center project, and tackling corruption in City Hall by creating an inspector general-type position, as well as placing greater emphasis on hiring employees who actually live in the city.
“I think I can do exponentially better than my opponent,” Grieco said. “I’m committed to honesty and I’m committed to getting back to basics, and to addressing the real problems that we have.”
During the runoffs, an anonymous email was sent to Beach voters, attacking Grieco for having a child out of wedlock and living with his son’s mother, but not being married. Grieco has accused Exposito of sending the email. In his own emailed statement, Exposito denied any involvement and denounced the attack on Grieco’s family.
Bower, 74, ran for commission seat after being term-limited as mayor. She is running to advance historic preservation laws in the city, and to keep the current convention center project on track for completion. She also wants to address quality of life issues, such as providing affordable housing for seniors.
“I have been an activist for a long time. Many residents asked me to run and continue to represent them. This is my city and I care very much about it,” Bower said.
Malakoff, 77, is running for office for the first time. Compared to Bower, who has served in city government for more than a decade, Malakoff was little-known before election day. Yet, she managed to garner 40 percent of the vote to Bower’s 44 percent.
Malakoff’s biggest criticism of Bower is that she is running again after being term-limited as both a commissioner, and now as a mayor. However, the city’s rules only prohibit consecutive terms in each office. An elected official is allowed to jump back and forth between the positions, and not be term-limited.
“I’m running, first of all, to uphold the spirit and intent of our city charter’s term limits on politicians,” Malakoff said. “I don’t think we need life-time politicians.”
If elected, Malakoff says she would focus on restoring the city’s beaches, reducing the amount of retail space currently included in the planned convention center district renovation and to get flooding problems under control.