Aventura - Sunny Isles

Sunny Isles Beach voters to choose mayor, commissioner

As the Nov. 4 election draws near, all the mayoral and commissioner candidates in Sunny Isles Beach say they have one common goal: controlling growth development on the west side of Collins Avenue.

Voters must fill seats for the mayor and Seat 4 city commissioner.

Incumbent Commissioner Jeanette Gatto, 60, will be automatically elected for a second term because no one ran against her. Seat 2 encompasses the north-central region of the city, which includes the area south of 178th Street and north of 172nd Street.

Here’s a rundown on the races.


Second-term commissioner George “Bud” Scholl and former Vice Mayor Lewis Thaler are seeking the position as incumbent Mayor Norman S. Edelcup is reaching the term limit for the position.

In Sunny Isles Beach, an individual can only hold the position of mayor or commissioner for two consecutive four-year terms.

Thaler, 77, a former commissioner and vice mayor of Sunny Isles Beach, said the critical issue for the city is growth management.

“Sunny Isles Beach is approaching maximum build out,” Thaler said. “I will … represent the will of the residents to make sure growth is controlled on the west side of Collins Avenue.”

Thaler is a board member of Concerned Citizens of Northeast Dade, School Trust Fund for Norman S. Edelcup K-8 School and the Florida International University North Council.

Scholl, 55, said that if elected he would establish an “office of condo advocacy” for condo residents, managers and board members to get assistance on issues or conflicts.

“Most of the calls that I receive from residents deal with issues involving their condominium or condo board,” Scholl said. “Since the state regulates this area, it is very difficult for residents and board members to get answers.”

Scholl would also like to create a senior citizen center and ensure developers stay within the city’s land development regulations and comprehensive plan.

Scholl is chairman of Community Blood Centers of Florida, president of the Atlantic Island Civic Association and a member of the MIS Committee of the Board of Commissioners BrowardHealth.

Healthcare management professional Alex Amselem, 44, was initially in the race for mayor but recently dropped out.

“After conversations with [Scholl], I decided our personalities are similar,” Amselem said. “I decided to endorse him.”


Incumbent Commissioner Isaac Aelion is running for a second term against retired biotech/pharmaceutical sales representative Roberto Rodriguez in the Seat 4 commissioner race. Seat 4 encompasses the south-central region of the city, which includes the area from 172nd Street south to Sunny Isles Boulevard.

If reelected, Aelion, 63, plans to work to lower taxes, control development on the west side of Collins Avenue and pursue traffic solutions. He would also work toward improving rain drainage in shopping plazas, overseeing the underground completion of FPL power lines and installing more crosswalks on Collins Avenue.

He said he also would “work with the school board to lower the number of students per class so that the quality of education in our school is improved,” Aelion said.

Aelion is a member of the Concerned Citizens of Northeast Dade, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and the North Miami Beach-Sunny Isles Beach — Florida Kiwanis Club.

Rodriguez, 63, is also concerned about the responsible development of the west side of the city. His second goal would be to focus on alternative transportation for residents to reduce the number of private vehicles on the roads, primarily Collins Avenue.

“Create a public/private partnership where a fleet of electrical mini-chauffeured trams can transport up to eight visitors or residents within our city limits without the need to get in their cars to make a run to the stores, beach or restaurants,” Rodriguez said. “Collins Avenue has become a difficult road to navigate and … we need to start a dialog with FDOT to provide a solution for the residents of Sunny Isles Beach.”

The annual salaries of the mayor of Sunny Isles Beach is $19,204; $15,363 for the commissioners.

About the candidates


George “Bud” Scholl

Age: 55.

Occupation: Executive vice president of OneBlood, a not-for-profit blood center.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Florida.

Other: Chairman of Community Blood Centers of Florida; president, Atlantic Island Civic Association; member, MIS Committee of the Board of Commissioners of BrowardHealth.

Lewis Thaler

Age: 77.

Occupation: Retired businessman.

Education: High school graduate.

Other: Former Sunny Isles Beach commissioner and vice mayor; member of the vice provost’s council at the north campus of Florida International University.

Seat 4

Isaac Aelion

Age: 63.

Occupation: Owner of a rehabilitation center in North Miami.

Education: Master’s degree in business from the University of Haifa, Israel; master’s degree from the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago.

Other: Member of the Concerned Citizens of Northeast Dade; member of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation; member of the North Miami Beach-Sunny Isles Beach Florida Kiwanis Club

Roberto Rodriguez

Age: 64.

Occupation: Retired from biotech industry.

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Florida International University.

Other: President, La Perla Condo Association; vice president, Glenn Ellen Homeowner Association when he lived in Miami Lakes; youth soccer sponsor in Miami-Dade.