Miami Beach

Incumbents keep seats in North Bay Village

Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps and Commissioner Jorge Gonzalez will keep their seats on the North Bay Village commission, after easily winning reelection on Tuesday.

Leon-Kreps received more than 60 percent of the vote against village resident Jorge Brito.

“She is someone that cares,” said voter Frank Corzo, 40, as he left Treasure Island Elementary School.

Both Leon-Kreps and Brito rallied with supporters outside the school, one of two voting precincts in the village, donning campaign T-shirts and signs until polls closed.

On Leon-Kreps’ side, children could be heard chanting, “Connie, Connie!”

Maria Avila, 46, has lived in the village for seven years and voted for Leon-Kreps.

“There’s always police presence, and services are good,” Avila said. “The only thing is the taxes.”

This was the first time the mayor has faced opposition, and it will be her third term on the commission.

Brito, a retired Miami-Dade police officer, said he was disappointed by the campaign tactics that were used against him but can now cross an item off his bucket list — running for office.

“It is what it is. But I think the people are the ones that lost,” he said. “We gave the people of North Bay Village a chance to choose.”

Brito was the subject of three attack ads paid for by two different electioneering communications organizations.

Gonzalez, the incumbent commissioner-at-large, received 56 percent of the vote in his race, defeating village resident Mario Garcia.

“I got incredible support across the village,” Gonzalez said from his watch party. “I got my message across. Now, the voters have spoken.”

Both Gonzalez and Brito also staked outside Treasure Island Elementary on Tuesday, handing out fliers to voters from opposite sides of the parking lot.

One voter outside the school said he voted for Garcia because, “the other guy had too many legal issues,” referring to a business bankruptcy and litigation involving debts Gonzalez incurred over the years.

Some of the information was the subject of a flier distributed by Garcia, who Gonzalez said twisted the truth. Days before the election, he filed a libel lawsuit and an ethics complaint.

On Wednesday, a hearing examiner with the county’s Commission on Ethics and Public Trust found no probable cause. The lawsuit is still pending.

Nevertheless, Gonzalez said he is happy with the support he received from the village, and is now happy to go back to work.

“They voted to keep moving the village forward,” Gonzalez said.