Aventura - Sunny Isles

Popular charter school is an issue in Aventura election

An Aventura mayoral candidate claims that his opponent is a “henchwoman” of an outgoing commissioner and would work to close a charter school as candidates prepare for the Nov. 4 election.

The mayoral and three commissioner positions are open because of term limits. Mayor Susan Gottlieb and Commissioners Michael Stern (Seat 2), Billy Joel (Seat 4) and Luz Urbaez Weinberg (Seat 6) have all reached their term limits.

In Aventura, an individual can only hold the position of mayor or commissioner for two consecutive terms.

The mayor of Aventura collects an annual salary of $10,000; commissioners earn $7,500.

Robert Shelley, 70, was automatically elected to Seat 4 because he is running unopposed. Joel is vacating Seat 4. Candidates must reside south of the Lehman Causeway.

MAYOR

Enid Weisman and Lesley Winston are the candidates for the open mayoral seat being vacated by Gottlieb.

In a letter to Aventura residents, Winston claimed Weisman and Seat 2 commissioner candidate Denise Landman were Joel’s “hand-picked henchwomen” who would like to end the charter school, Aventura City of Excellence School (ACES), and oppose a high school expansion.

“For the past eight years, the charter school has been forgotten by the Aventura commission that oversees the school,” said Winston, 72, a chartered adviser to philanthropy and president of Insurance and Financial Services. “It is these commissioners that have endorsed and financially support Enid Weisman and Denise Landman in this election campaign.”

Winston is the president of following organizations: the Aventura-Sunny Isles Beach Chamber of Commerce, American International Relief and Advisors in Philanthropy Foundation.

Weisman, 67, is the chief human resources officer for Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Landman, 28, is a director of public and media relations at Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

Weisman and Landman denied Winston’s allegations. Weisman stated Joel served the city with “integrity and class for over a decade” and was proud to be compared with him. Weisman said she also supports ACES.

“As Assistant Superintendent-Schools of Choice, I over saw all charter schools in Miami Dade County,” Weisman said. “ACES is one of the best in the state and I fully support it. There is no way that it would be closed or its charter not renewed. Neither I nor the school district have any intention of blocking a high school in Aventura.”

Weisman has served on Aventura’s charter review committee and is chairwoman of the board of trustees for the Aventura Hospital and Medical Center. She also received a community of respect award from the Anti-Defamation League in 2010 for her work in equal employment opportunity and civil rights in Aventura.

Landman also lauded Joel, whom she said she didn’t know personally until she began campaigning.

“It is such a shame that a candidate has nothing good to say about himself, so he has to resort to attacking his opponent and others,” Landman said. “I am not opposed to a high school or a charter school or any other alternative options that provide additional educational choices for our children, but we need to be realistic about land availability and financial sustainability before promising the residents of Aventura something that has been previously explored and did not come to fruition.”

Landman is open to looking at other alternatives such as an iPrep Academy or public-private partnerships. She plans to us her knowledge of the public school system to help residents.

SEAT 2

Landman is running against Gustavo Blachman for the Seat 2 commissioner position being vacated by Stern. Candidates for this seat must reside north of the William Lehman Causeway.

Blachman, 53, ran unsuccessfully for City Commission about eight years ago. The real estate business owner said he is running again because he wants to give back to the city where he made his mark.

“I moved here with nothing and I accomplished wonders,” said Blachman, a husband and father of four who immigrated from Buenos Aires in 1995. “The driving force is my family. I always tell my children that getting involved is important.”

If elected, Blachman, who sent three of his four children to ACES, plans to work for a high school in Aventura. He would also cultivate new business growth by encouraging re-development of run down shopping plazas and would like to see a bookstore return to the city. He plans to look into a safe walking passage to the beach and cultural activities for the youth and seniors.

Blachman is a member of the Jewish National Fund, Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center and the KSpace advisory board.

Landman also hopes to increase arts, cultural and educational activities for residents of all ages as well as quality public transportation.

“I will work collectively with the rest of the commission, and county, state and federal agencies to ensure we continue to move forward with sustainable practices and green-friendly initiatives, so that our city can be here for generations to come,” added Landman, who was appointed to the city’s community services advisory committee in 2012.

Landman is also a board member of Silver Knight Alumni Legacy Network and is a past recipient of the award. She also participates in Leadership Miami at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. She is a member of the Turnberry Chapter of Hadassah and the National Association of Women in Construction.

SEAT 6

Marc Narotsky and Jonathan Rogoff are running for commission Seat 6, which is being vacated by Urbaez Weinberg. There are no residential requirements for this seat.

Narotsky, 31, plans to use his youth as a bridge to the future and his skills as an attorney and mediator to work well with others and achieve common goals.

“I will bring a new, pragmatic, hands-on approach to leadership, legislation, and policy making in Aventura,” Narotsky said. “I will work to keep our taxes low, improve our city services, and help our residents with any concerns.”

Nartosky is a board member of the Vice Provost’s Council Florida International University, a volunteer with the Jewish Federation Services Food Delivery and a member of the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center.

Rogoff, 65, is director of marketing for the Aventura-Sunny Isles Beach Chamber of Commerce.

“I would like to promote business on an official scale,” said Rogoff, adding he also would work towards building a high school and addressing traffic concerns and flooding on side streets and shopping plazas.

About the candidates

Mayor

Enid Weisman

AGE: 67

OCCUPATION: Chief human resources officer for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

EDUCATION: Bachelor and master’s degrees from the University of Miami

OTHER: Chairperson, Board of Trustees for Aventura Hospital and Medical Center; member, Aventura Charter Review Committee; board member, New World School of the Arts.

Lesley Winston

AGE: 72

OCCUPATION: Chartered advisor to philanthropy and president of Insurance and Financial Services, a business in Dade County.

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Miami.

OTHER: President, Aventura-Sunny Isles Beach Chamber of Commerce; president, American International Relief; president, Advisors in Philanthropy Foundation.

Seat 2

Gustavo Blachman

AGE: 53

OCCUPATION: Owner of real estate brokerage in North Miami Beach.

EDUCATION: High school diploma

OTHER: Member, Jewish National Fund; member, Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center; member, KSpace advisory board.

Denise Landman

AGE: 28

OCCUPATION: Director of public and media relations at Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

OTHER: Board Member, Silver Knight Alumni Legacy Network; member, Leadership Miami at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce; member, Turnberry Chapter of Hadassah; member, National Association of Women in Construction.

Seat 6

Marc Narotsky

AGE: 31

OCCUPATON: Attorney and mediator.

EDUCATION: Law degree from the University of Miami ; bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University.

OTHER: Board Member, Vice Provost’s Council Florida International University; Volunteer, Jewish Federation Services Food Delivery and Member, Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center

Jonathan Rogoff

AGE: 65

OCCUPATION: Director of marketing for the Aventura-Sunny Isles Beach Chamber of Commerce.

EDUCATION: Associate’s degree from Nassau Community College in Hempstead, N.Y.

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