South Miami voters will have few, yet familiar choices at the polls Feb. 9.
Incumbent Philip Stoddard will face a familiar foe in former two-time Mayor Horace Feliu, along with first-time candidate Claudia Hauri as they all run for mayor.
Commissioners Josh Liebman and Bob Welsh are running unopposed to represent groups two and three, respectively.
The candidate-qualifying period ran from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4. Early voting is set for Feb. 6, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hauri was born in Coral Gables but has lived in South Miami since the age of 1. She currently owns Educated Health Care Choices and formerly served as a registered nurse, staff and head nurse, instructor of RNs, and as associate professor and director of nurse practitioners.
Hauri, 73, served on South Miami’s planning board in 2014 and still serves on the women’s committee, and as a nurse consultant and on several university committees.
“I am concerned about the state of ‘sickness’ and slickness’ that is being expressed by residents of the city,” Hauri said. “As a licensed nurse, I have a fiduciary duty to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens in the state of Florida. As mayor of South Miami I want and plan to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the residents and businesses in South Miami. I believe in progress, change, and development within reason and rationale according to the city charter and the land development code.”
“As a nurse I care about clean air, non-slip sidewalks and designated areas for drop-off/pick-up whether for humans or products, and the interest of the consumer. These issues are accomplished by inclusiveness, cooperation, respect and responsibility.”
Stoddard, 58, has been mayor for six years. Last year, the White House appointed the FIU biology professor to the Governance Coordinating Committee of the National Ocean Council.
“After six years in office, crime levels and the property tax rate in South Miami are both at all-time lows and the city’s emergency reserves are at their all-time highest, but I still have work to complete, protecting the low areas in the city from encroaching water, keeping high voltage transmission lines out of the city, improving neighborhood protection codes, resolving traffic and parking problems, creating bike trails, improving our parks, and addressing affordable housing needs,” Stoddard said.
Feliu, 61, is an adjunct algebra and biology professor at Fortis College and the president of SterilQuip, a biomedical engineering company. Feliu served as mayor from 2002 to 2004 and 2006 to 2010. He also served on the environmental review and preservation board from 1996 to 1998 and as president of the South Miami rotary club from 2011 to 2012.
“We need to return our city back to its citizens by concentrating on quality of life issues which affect all of us and in which we are in control over,” Feliu said. “Talking about global warming and rising sea levels along with saving the red striped mosquito from extinction is interesting, but we need to stop over-development and the sale of City Hall to developers.”
“In addition, we have seen a downward spiral due to police scandals, lawsuits, increase in home invasions, and the constant attempts to subcontract out our public works department. Many seniors are on fixed incomes and can’t afford tax increases. Lowering the millage by a token amount does not equate to lowering taxes, so I ask that my fellow South Miamians compare the city portion of their tax bills to what they paid 6 years ago. … I am running because we need to make South Miami first.”
Stoddard beat incumbent Mayor Feliu in 2010 with 58 percent of the vote. In 2012, Stoddard won over Julio Robaina with 59 percent of the vote.
In 2014, Stoddard won 62 percent of the vote against two other opponents to remain mayor. Also, Feliu failed in his attempt to become group four commissioner, gaining only 40 percent of the votes to lose to Vice Mayor Walter Harris.
After facing no opposition this year, commissioners Liebman, 41, and Welsh, 62, will again represent groups two and three.
“For the last four years, I have had the honor and privilege to serve on the South Miami City Commission as vice mayor/commissioner,” said Liebman, a real estate agent in South Miami. “Public service is important to me and every day I work to give back to our community. On the commission I have been a champion for our residents and local business. As a result, in the last four years taxes have been reduced, property values have increased significantly, city services, management and staff have seen great improvement and our city is safer. South Miami is truly a great place to live, work and raise a family.”
“I am proud of the accomplishments of the last four years, but there is still more to do. I am focused on enhancing our city’s quality of life and infrastructure. Two of my focuses will continue to be city beautification projects and park improvements. Recently, I championed the new city logo and street signs. In addition, I championed a new parks master plan, which will lay the foundation for city park improvements for years to come. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the city of South Miami and I am ready to get back to work for our community.”
Welsh previously served on the environmental review and preservation board.
“Four years ago, Commissioner (Brian) Beasley pulled out at the last minute and asked me to run,” Welsh said. “This time I am running as a somewhat experienced public servant, whose biggest thrill has been to fight for the little guys who wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance of prevailing against established special interests.”
In 2012, Liebman won the office of commissioner with 52 percent of the vote, and Welsh edged current commissioner Gabriel Edmond and Armando Oliveros, Jr. with 47 percent of the vote.