After weeks of campaigning and door-knocking leading up to the Nov. 4 election, Key Biscayne residents welcomed a new Village Council member and kept two familiar faces on the dais.
Councilwoman Mayra Peña Lindsay ran unopposed for mayor and was automatically elected.
Three council seats were open in the at-large election. Luis Felipe de la Cruz became the newest member of the Village Council. He won the most votes, followed by outgoing Mayor Franklin Caplan and incumbent Councilman James Taintor. Term-limited as mayor, Caplan can serve one term on the council.
More than 7,000 residents voted. The Key Biscayne Community Center saw a steady number of voters throughout the day.
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Resident Claudia Succar Ferré said she voted for Caplan, de la Cruz and Brett Moss.
Ferré said she was impressed by Moss’ presentation at a candidate forum. She also said she was satisfied with Caplan’s years as mayor.
“He’s been a great advocate for Key Biscayne,” she said.
Ferré also liked that De la Cruz has been a resident since before the village was incorporated in 1991, and thinks he is in tune with the community’s needs. “He has great character and values,” she said.
Jorge Herdocia voted for Taintor, De la Cruz and H. Frances Reaves. “Taintor is persistent,” Herdocia said. “He fights for the residents.”
The candidates spent the day across from Village Hall and at the entrance of Key Biscayne, holding campaign signs, waving at drivers and talking to residents along with the other candidates.
By 7 p.m., all were ready to go home.
“I was on my feet for 12 hours,” Taintor said. “When the polls closed, I went home, had a couple of stiff drinks, ate dinner and mellowed out.”
De la Cruz was surrounded by friends and family members at his sister-in-law’s house as everyone waited for election results.
“I’m relieved that the political process of the election is over and anxious to get started in what I think will be a very interesting and rewarding chapter of my life,” he said. “I had never before thought about running or being elected to office. I am extremely humbled and overwhelmed by the support that I received from the voters in Key Biscayne.”
Caplan went home to catch up on some work. He received a text message from a supporter congratulating him when the results came back.
“I was very pleased. I love to serve,” he said. “I’m glad to be able to contribute to outcomes, and even more importantly, to contribute to the process of governing wisely and well.”
All three said they were eager to get to work on a number of capital improvement projects that are in the works and have ideas of their own to pursue.
De la Cruz said traffic congestion in the village’s main arteries, including Crandon Boulevard, needs immediate addressing, as does street flooding and burying the village’s power lines. As a former director of the Key Biscayne Athletic Club, he would like to create more field space for kids and adults.
Caplan has what Taintor calls a “trifecta” of projects he wants to support in his term as a council member — building a parking garage behind the police station, a public works yard in Crandon Park and a new library.
Caplan has been in talks with the Miami-Dade Public Library System for about a year to rebuild the village’s library. “This is my baby,” he said.
Taintor is also looking forward to seeing the expansion of the community center and hopes the new library will have space for a senior center.
An installation ceremony for the new council members and mayor will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday in the community center’s Island Room.