The mayoral race in Coral Gables continues to draw familiar faces as former mayor Raúl Valdés-Fauli has filed to run in the April election.
The attorney served as the city’s mayor from 1993-2001 and, so far, his only opponent is Commissioner Jeannett Slesnick. Valdés-Fauli has mostly spent the last 15 years away from politics but supported Mayor Jim Cason in the past and most recently served as chairman of the city’s charter review committee.
“In the last few years I’ve seen things in Coral Gables that I like and things in Coral Gables that I don’t like,” Valdés-Fauli said. “I want to concentrate on making Coral Gables better even with the things that are good.”
He has pointed to the Village of Merrick Park and the War Memorial Youth Center as some notable developments during his time as mayor. He thinks the city can build on some of those projects and accomplishments and thinks public safety and fiscal responsibility should also be priorities.
“Time goes on and we have to adapt,” Valdés-Fauli said.
One of the biggest discussion points in the city is development. Valdés-Fauli has said that he’s in favor of controlled development and thinks it’s essential for the city. Concerns about overdevelopment and resident outcry were major factors when Valdés-Fauli and two other commissioners were voted out of office in 2001. He lost that election to Jeannett’s husband, Don Slesnick.
An activist group called the Coral Gables Citizens Political Committee opposed the commission’s plan to build a 60,000-square-foot addition to City Hall and to make Biltmore Way a pedestrian-only street.
The former mayor recognizes that history and his critics, but still says he is qualified for the job.
“I had my chance to run the city and I think I did a darn good job,” Valdés-Fauli said. “I think I have a clear vision for the future of Coral Gables and I want to enact that.”
Commissioner Slesnick filed to run in November and will compete for the mayoral seat after nearly two years in her current role.
The April 11 election will also include races for seats currently held by Commissioner Vince Lago and Commissioner Patricia Keon. Lago has already filed for reelection.
The official qualifying dates for candidates are Feb. 20-24. Residents must register to vote by March 13.