Former Coral Gables Commissioner Ralph Cabrera, who served on the city’s commission for 12 years, has announced he will run for mayor in the April 2015 election.
Cabrera, who owns Cabrera Benefits Group, a commercial insurance consulting firm, submitted his paperwork to City Hall last week.
Cabrera lost the 2013 mayoral election to current Mayor Jim Cason by 71 percent of the vote. Cabrera says that was because “voter participation was abysmal.”
After he lost, he said he wanted to dedicate time to his “children, family and business.” Up until last week, Cabrera was staying away from the city hall chambers.
“I needed to step back and experience Coral Gables as a resident,” Cabrera said. “And I did.”
The former commissioner says his platform for the upcoming race will be “restoring the lack of leadership.” He said seeing the rise in residential burglaries persuaded him to send his paperwork to city hall.
“That was my turning point,” he said, adding that the only time he has gone back to city hall since his loss was on Sept. 11, the date the commission held a meeting on crime statistics. At that meeting they named a new police chief, Ed Hudak, after Dennis Weiner abruptly resigned the day before. More than 200 residents were in attendance.
It is unclear whether Cason will run for reelection in 2015. He told the Miami Herald on Friday that he would “have to take a look at all the candidates.” He added that he’d run if he sees that the city is “in trouble.”
He did not comment on Cabrera’s decision to run for mayor.
Vice Mayor Bill Kerdyk Jr. may also run. He told the Herald he will decide in the coming weeks.
“I’ve dedicated all my focus to finding our city manager,” Kerdyk said. “I’ll be able to decide after all this is over.”
The Coral Gables commission appointed a new city manager on Oct. 7 at a special meeting after having a void in the city’s top job for six months. Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark, Hollywood’s city manager, was selected; she starts in 45 days.
Kerdyk and Cason did not return messages from the Miami Herald Monday and Tuesday.
Cabrera said submitting his paperwork early will allow him to start campaigning before the holidays.
“I’ve watched for the past 20 months as the city drifts with no true leadership,” Cabrera said. “Coral Gables has been my home since I was 8 years old. And we cannot afford two more years of misinformation and inaction.”
Cabrera was born and raised in Coral Gables. He went to Coral Gables Senior High school and graduated Florida International University in 1982.
He served on the city commission from 2001 to 2013. His focus while an elected official was “preserving and enhancing the City Beautiful’s quality of life and business environment.”
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