Election Day in Miami Beach is poised to be a mostly sunny, 82-degree day. But Mayor Dan Gelber certainly won’t break a sweat when it comes to counting the votes at the end of the night.
That’s because the two contenders who filed to run against him in the Nov. 5 election didn’t qualify by Friday’s deadline, so Gelber was automatically elected to a second term.
But three other races could be hard fought, with each having four candidates.
Here’s how the campaigns shape up.
Two candidates besides Gelber had filed papers to raise money in the mayoral race. One of them, a Beach resident who works in property management named Konstantinos Gus Manessis, dropped out on Aug. 28. The other, Samantha Salgado, a former Miami Beach lobbyist who goes by the nickname “Dew Wop” in her capacity as a brand strategist, failed to qualify on Friday.
In a statement Friday evening, Gelber thanked Miami Beach residents and his family for their support.
“I am grateful to all those that have been supportive of my candidacy and honored to have the confidence of my community,” he wrote. “Being mayor of my hometown has been my great honor and it is not a trust I take for granted.”
The only other incumbent running for re-election is Commissioner Ricky Arriola, the founder and CEO of Inktel Holdings Corp., a call center outsourcing company. He was first elected in 2015. He has served as chairman of the board of the Adrienne Arsht Center and was previously tapped by President Barack Obama to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
Arriola’s campaign has raised about $59,450 and Arriola has loaned the campaign another $100,000.
Other candidates for the Group 5 seat Arriola holds are:
▪ Raquel Pacheco, the president of translation company RDP Agency, has loaned her campaign $375. She has raised about $3,400.
▪ Johnathan Welsh, who does public relations work for a healthcare nonprofit, has raised $1,720 and loaned his campaign $268.
▪ Stephen Cohen, who has not raised any money.
Candidates for Group 6, where incumbent John Elizabeth Alemán did not seek re-election, are:
▪ David Richardson, the only candidate with enough signatures to waive the city’s qualifying fee. Richardson, a former state legislator, unsuccessfully ran for a Miami congressional seat in 2018. He has raised about $95,600 and loaned his campaign $25,000.
▪ Adrian Gonzalez, the owner of the South Beach Cuban restaurant David’s Café, has raised $40,955.
▪ Mohammed Rafiqul Islam, a Miami Beach landlord. Islam advertises himself as a professional engineer and the owner of a supermarket and convenience business, but in his qualifying documents, he filled in rent collections as his primary source of income. He did not disclose the ownership of any business or list any business interests in the documents he filed with the city. The sole contributor to his campaign has been himself. He cut checks for $500 in June and for $2,000 in July.
▪ Blake Young, the owner of a Miami Beach valve sales company. Young has also funded his own campaign, as a statement against the power of money in politics.
In the race for the Group 4 seat, which Kristen Rosen Gonzalez held until she resigned to run for Congress, Rosen Gonzalez is running again, after losing her congressional bid. She is a speech professor at Miami Dade College. And she is running in what may be the most talked about Miami Beach race this year.
She’s competing against Rafael Velasquez, a Democratic activist and real estate broker whom she accused of exposing his penis to her and trying to force her to touch it after a dinner in 2017.
Velasquez said Rosen Gonzalez made up the claim to take advantage of the national #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment. He filed a defamation lawsuit against Rosen Gonzalez, whom he describes as his former political mentor. The lawsuit remains active.
Also in the race:
Michael Barrineau, a luxury real estate broker in Miami Beach who has publicly stated that he once dated Rosen Gonzalez in the summer of 2015 and has commented on how “wacky” the race has become. He is a member of the Miami Beach Planning Board.
▪ U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission attorney Steven Meiner.
Rosen Gonzalez leads the pack with about $113,700 in campaign contributions, including a $500 check from Donna Shalala, the winner of the Congressional race. Rosen Gonzalez is second only to Gelber — who raised nearly $196,500 — in campaign contributions among commission and mayoral candidates.
While Velasquez has technically reported more cash on hand than Rosen Gonzalez, only about $33,700 of that came from donors. He loaned his campaign $115,000 and has spent just over $42,000.
Barrineau has loaned his campaign $19,000. He’s raised about $32,200 from donors.
Meiner has raised about $16,500 and loaned his campaign $2,000.
Herald staff writer Samantha J. Gross contributed to this report.