Golden Beach voters elected its youngest town council member on Tuesday, uprooting an 18-year incumbent in the process.
Longtime council member Judy Lusskin received the highest number of votes, 216, while newcomer Jaime Mendal, 26, received 204 votes. Incumbent Bernard Einstein came in third, losing in the race for the two open seats with 117. According to the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Election’s office, there are no outstanding votes to be counted, and Golden Beach does not hold runoff elections.
During the campaign, Lusskin, 67, touted her involvement in the town’s $24-million Capital Improvement Project, started in 2007. The plan, she said, enhanced the city’s beauty and functionality by upgrading the city’s water system and landscaping among other improvements. The 22-year resident, who will be entering her fourth term, said her goal is to continue the work and maintain the changes.
“I would like to thank Bernard Einstein for his commitment to the community and welcome newcomer Jaime Mendal,” she said. “I look forward to working with him.”
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Mendal said he is eager to start his new position.
“I am excited that the residents trust and chose me to represent them,” he said. “I look forward to working with the current town council to continue the good work that they’ve done.”
Golden Beach has a relatively recent tradition of putting twentysomethings in leadership roles. Mendal is one year younger than Town Manager Alexander Diaz was when he took the job 10 years ago.
Diaz said that though records are inconclusive, it is fair to say that no one younger than Mendal has ever been elected to the council.
“A lot of young people don't tend to get involved and they really should,” he said.
For his part, Einstein, 64, a 23-year resident of Golden Beach, said he is proud of what he had accomplished during his nearly two decades on the council.
The swearing-in date for Lusskin and Mendal has yet to be announced.