Coral Gables

New Coral Gables commission officially set at swearing-in ceremony

On the left, Rachel Ohnsman sings the U.S. National Anthem during the swearing-in ceremony for the Coral Gables City Commission on Friday.
On the left, Rachel Ohnsman sings the U.S. National Anthem during the swearing-in ceremony for the Coral Gables City Commission on Friday.

The new and re-elected members of the Coral Gables City Commission officially took their seats on the dais and were sworn in at a City Hall ceremony Friday morning.

Friends, business people and family members cheered and applauded as Mayor Raúl Valdés-Fauli and commissioners Vince Lago, Patricia Keon and Michael Mena officially took their oaths of office. Valdés-Fauli and Keon were victorious in the April 11 election, Lago was unopposed in his re-election bid and Mena won a runoff election Tuesday.

For Valdés-Fauli it’s a return to the mayoral position he held from 1993 to 2001. He thanked outgoing mayor Jim Cason and congratulated his mayoral opponent Commissioner Jeannett Slesnick for a hard-fought campaign.

The returning mayor then briefly discussed some of his goals for the city including keeping quality customer service and maintaining financial stability.

“I want to bring young people to Coral Gables, I want to bring younger families. You have to change to stay the same,” Valdés-Fauli said.

As the elected officials were sworn in, they were flanked by family members and friends. Valdés-Fauli brought a small fleet of his grandchildren onto the stage in commission chambers and they pinned a commemorative lapel pin to his jacket. Keon also posed with her granddaughter and said her time on the commission shows that a little girl can “grow up to be whatever she wants to be.”

As political newcomer Mena made his remarks, he focused on his 90-year-old grandmothers and thanked them for their sacrifices when they came to the United States.

“Less than 60 years ago these two women came to this country seeking a better opportunity. You want to talk about the American Dream, my family has lived it,” Mena said.

Slesnick and Cason also offered words of thanks to family, friends, city staff and supporters as they left the dais. Cason steps away after six years as mayor while Slesnick is leaving her seat after two years, following her unsuccessful bid for mayor.

“It’s something I never, in my earlier years, thought I’d do but I’m happy I did it,” Cason said about serving as mayor.

This commission will be in place for the next two years, then in 2019 the mayoral seat, Vice Mayor Frank Quesada’s seat and Mena’s seat will be up for grabs.

“For the next two years I promise I will serve with dignity, confidence and efficiency for the betterment of Coral Gables,” Valdés-Fauli said.

The first official meeting with the new members will take place at 9 a.m. May 9 at City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3