Coral Gables

10 candidates file for April 14 Coral Gables election

Things are about to get heated in Coral Gables: Candidates have filed their papers at the City Clerk’s office for the April 14 election.

Ten politicians will fight for three seats on the dais. Last election, 10 people ran, but this year six are running for a single commission seat.

“Six people in one group race? That’s large,” City Clerk Walter Foeman said.

Filing ended Feb. 20.

Running for mayor in Group I are incumbent Jim Cason and Ralph Cabrera, who served 12 years on the city commission.

Cabrera announced his candidacy in November. He ran for mayor in 2013, but lost to Cason by 71 percent of the vote.

The reason, according to Cabrera: “Voter participation was abysmal.”

“I decided to run because I wanted to serve,” Cabrera said Friday. “I believe there is a real void in the mayor’s role.”

Cabrera said his campaign platform is built on crime, neighborhood schools, development and debt.

Cason has said recently that he is proud of the Gables’ recent spurt of commercial and other development under his watch.

Running for Group IV are incumbent Frank C. Quesada, who ran unopposed until last week, and Enrique Lopez.

“I look forward to a clean race,” Quesada said.

Running for Group V: Ariel Fernandez, Jackson Rip Holmes, P.J. Mitchell, Sandra Murado, Norman Anthony Newell and Jeannett Slesnick.

Slesnick shocked the Gables community by entering the race at the last minute. She is the wife of former Coral Gables Mayor Don Slesnick, who lost for re-election to Cason in 2011 by 335 votes.

Jeannett Slesnick has been politically active in the Gables since the 1980s, when she made an early, unsuccessful bid for office.

She said her decision to run this year is a “natural fit.”

“I’ve been doing things in Coral Gables for 40 years,” she said. “I have more in-depth experience and more history to fill this seat than the people who are running.”

Fernandez, who began campaigning early for Group V, said he is not deterred having Slesnick in the race.

“Not by a long shot,” he said. “This is an election that hasn’t even been close to being decided. We have a great crop of candidates and it gives us more of an opportunity to discuss the issues that are affecting our residents. We’ve always had an issue with voter participation and I think this welcomes people to participate in the process. It creates more interest in this race altogether.”

Seat V became vacant after Commissioner Bill Kerdyk termed-out after 20 years.

Kerdyk told the Miami Herald in December that he had originally planned to run for mayor, but later decided it was “time to go.”

“It was a very difficult decision,” said Kerdyk, whose family has served on the Coral Gables Commission continuously for more than seven decades.

On Monday, the Coral Gables Forum will host a residents’ Q&A with commission candidates. Mayoral candidates will take questions on March 9.

Eliott Rodriguez of CBS4 will moderate.

Both events will be held at the Coral Gables Congregational Church, 3010 DeSoto Blvd., from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. for residents to submit questions.

For details, email coralgablesforum@gmail.com.

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