After more than 15 years away from the dais, former mayor Raúl Valdés-Fauli will return to the position, based on unofficial results Tuesday night. Joining him will be Group 3 Commissioner Patricia Keon, who won re-election, while the race for the Group 5 seat is headed for a runoff election.
With all 23 precincts reporting, Valdés-Fauli earned about 51 percent of the vote while Commissioner Jeannett Slesnick received about 49 percent — a difference of less than 200 votes. The race between the two candidates became personal and tense in the final weeks.
“Coral Gables has a lot of opportunities and a lot of problems and I’m very happy to address them with my theories and my proposals,” Valdés-Fauli said. “I congratulate my opponent for having a very intense race and I’m very happy that I won.”
While the mayoral race and one commission race were decided Tuesday, voters will have to return to the polls on April 25 to decide the next Group 5 commissioner as no one won a majority of votes.
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Marlin Ebbert, a retired teacher, will face off against Michael Mena, an attorney, as they were the top vote-getters in the field of four candidates.
Ebbert earned about 33 percent of the vote for Group 5 while Mena received about 44 percent. Their opponents, retired police officer Randy Hoff and civil engineer Serafin Sousa, secured about 18 and 5 percent respectively. The winner will take over the remaining two years in the Group 5 seat, the position that Slesnick left to run for mayor.
And in Group 3, Keon was re-elected in the race for her seat over former commissioner Wayne “Chip” Withers. Keon earned about 57 percent of the vote while Withers secured about 43 percent.
Coral Gables Races
23 of 23 precincts
▪ Coral Gables Mayor
Jeannett Slesnick 4,114 48.89%
Raúl Valdés-Fauli 4,301 51.11%
▪ Coral Gables Commission Group 3
Patricia Keon 4,717 57.45%
Wayne “Chip” Withers 3,493 42.55%
▪ Coral Gables Commission Group 5
Marlin Ebbert 2,687 32.82%
Randy Hoff 1,481 18.09%
Michael Mena 3,643 44.50%
Serafin Sousa 375 4.58%