Miami Beach mayoral candidate David Wieder told voters at a civic breakfast that he decided to run because he wants to increase access for residents at City Hall, deal with traffic congestion and curb overdevelopment.
Wieder, who works as a personal injury attorney and currently chairs the city Historic Preservation Board, spoke at the weekly civic breakfast known as the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club. Tuesday marked the fist meeting at a new location, Manolo at 685 Washington Ave., after the group’s previous home on Meridian Avenue closed last week.
Speaking before a crowd of about 100 people, he said the city’s frequent traffic problems might benefit from a program to bus people who work on the Beach from the mainland, more bike lanes and light rail in South Beach.
“I’m not going to kid you, there’s no easy solutions as to any of that problem,” he said. “But it’s something that has to be examined.”
Wieder unsurprisingly favors preservation of older homes and supports a Coral Gables-style approach to historic preservation. In Coral Gables, all new homes up for demolition are reviewed by that city’s Historic Preservation Board.
“I believe in moderate and intelligent development for the city of Miami Beach,” he said. “The key to Miami Beach is its uniqueness, its historic homes.”
Wieder also said he wanted to have an open-door policy for residents if he were elected mayor.
“I’m going to establish and nurture an open climate at City Hall where professional people can do their job,” he said. “I don’t want a bunch of ‘yes’ people around me.”
In an interview afterward, Wieder said residents have told him that his opponent, incumbent Mayor Philip Levine, is not as responsive to their concerns as they’d like.
Levine told the Miami Herald on Tuesday that he believes the city has done a better job of communicating with residents than it ever had.
“I’ve had more extensive communications with our constituency than any of our previous mayors, through Facebook, Twitter and email blasts,” he said. “We’re communicating with Miami Beach better than any other mayor in the past.”
Wieder faces a well-funded incumbent. Levine spent $2 million of his own money in 2013 during his first campaign, and he has said he will self-fund again.
Another inspiration for Wieder’s candidacy was the recent controversy over Relentless for Progress, a political action committee that raised $1.4 million from city real estate developers, vendors and lobbyists and drew criticism from the community. The committee was chaired by term-limited Commissioner Jonah Wolfson, and Levine helped solicit contributors and starred in two of the PAC’s TV commercials.
“Miami Beach is not for sale,” Wieder said.
The PAC, which Wolfson had intended to use for funding candidates in the Beach’s elections this year, will close at the end of September once all invoices have been paid in full, according to state records.