The newest member of the Coral Gables commission will be attorney Michael Mena, based on unofficial results from the first runoff election in the city’s history.
With all 23 precincts reporting, Mena earned about 54 percent to Marlin Ebbert’s 46 percent. Mena will serve the remaining two years in the Group 5 seat, the position that Commissioner Jeannett Slesnick left to run for mayor.
Mena, who at 36 will be the youngest member of the City Commission, believes he will bring fresh perspectives on using technology to combat traffic issues and help reduce petty crimes in the Gables.
“It’s exciting. It’s the first time I’ve run for office and you don’t know how people are going to react to you,” Mena said. “A lot of people told me they’re excited to have a young professional representing them.”
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As a first-time candidate, his campaign spending — more than $119,000 through March 28 — and a barrage of political mailers paid off in the end.
Ebbert, a retired teacher, raised about $21,600 and filed to run a few weeks after Mena. Ebbert’s loss was her second; she also made an unsuccessful run in 2013.
“I’m disappointed of course because I would’ve loved to serve Coral Gables, but I’ll continue to do the things I’ve done. I’m not going to go away,” Ebbert said.
Mena and Ebbert made it to Tuesday’s runoff when they were the frontrunners in the April 11 election, but neither won a majority of votes. Two other candidates, Randy Hoff and Serafin Sousa, were eliminated from the Group 5 race on that ballot. Slesnick lost her bid for mayor in that election.
The new City Commission will be sworn in at 11:30 a.m. Friday at Coral Gables City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way. Mena will take the oath of office along with incoming mayor Raúl Valdés-Fauli, returning to office after 16 years, and incumbent commissioners Vince Lago and Patricia Keon.
Coral Gables Runoff
Coral Gables Commission Group 5
Marlin Ebbert 2,391 votes 46.12%
Michael Mena 2,793 votes 53.88%