Unite Miami Shores, a community diversity group formed in 2014 after the village council split over support for same-sex marriage, will hold a candidates forum Thursday night.
“It was formed to bring the community together and to allow everyone’s voice to be heard and not just the voice of the council members,” said Elizabeth B. Hitt, one of Unite Miami Shores’ founding members.
Last fall, the annual Miami Shores Mayor’s Ball was canceled after two volunteer chairs quit when the village didn’t pass a nonbinding resolution supporting marriage equality. Mayor Herta Holly and Councilmen Hunt Davis and Jim McCoy voted against the resolution in July while Vice Mayor Jesse Walters and Councilwoman Ivonne Ledesma favored it.
In September, the council revisited the resolution and approved it 4-1. Holly and Davis changed their votes in favor of gay marriage, and McCoy voted no, adding that politically sensitive issues should not be debated by the council village.
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Unite Miami Shores held its own “Unity Ball” on Nov. 1 and raised $90,000 that night, according to its website. The group gave $75,000 to the Miami Foundation’s LGBT fund to be dispersed to local nonprofits.
Now, Ledesma and Davis are up for reelection. Both incumbents will be at Thursday’s forum along with the four political newcomers: Sean Brady, Alice Burch, MacAdam Glinn and Steve Zelkowitz.
All six are running to fill three general council seats.
Giselle Kovac, another Unite Miami Shores founding member, said the goal of the forum is to facilitate the voices of the community’s diverse population, which is increasing. Miami Shores ranks fifth in the top 101 cities with the largest percentage of likely lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender households, according to citiydata.com.
Unite Miami Shores will video record the candidates forum and post it online on its website, www.unitemiamishores.com, Kovac said.
“We’re posting it online so that every single person in Miami Shores has the opportunity to become educated and to participate in their community,” Kovac said. “What we wanted to do was provide an opportunity for candidates to speak and for the residents to get information that is true and clear.”
Residents who attend the forum may submit questions in person, or they can email queries before the event to firstname.lastname@example.org. The forum is free and takes place 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. at Miami Theater Center, 9806 NE Second Ave.