Miami Beach

Candidate with city contract asks Miami Beach to find new vendor

Ricky Arriola, left, and Mark Weithorn are running for the Group 5 seat in Miami Beach.
Ricky Arriola, left, and Mark Weithorn are running for the Group 5 seat in Miami Beach. Miami Herald File

In the race for the Group 5 seat on Miami Beach's City Commission, candidate and current city vendor Ricky Arriola wants the city to find a new firm to handle customer service calls to the building department so he can avoid a conflict of interest if he wins.

But since the city won’t put the contract out to bid until after the election, Arriola would have to recuse himself from votes on the matter until the contract expires in April.

Arriola, CEO of Inktel Holdings and immediate past chair of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts Trust Board, is running against Mark Weithorn, a real estate agent who does web development, is a member of Miami Beach’s transportation committee and husband of current term-limited Commissioner Deede Weithorn. They’re vying for the seat Commissioner Ed Tobin will vacate as his term runs out.

Arriola's firm has a $200,000 contract with Miami Beach to handle call center services for the city’s building department. On the campaign trail, Weithorn has often criticized Arriola for running for office while having a city contract. Arriola has responded by saying he would take care of any conflicts if he were elected.

Arriola’s contract with the city expires on April 26, 2016. The company can't cancel the contract unless the city fails to pay. Unless the city looked for a new vendor early, Arriola would be a sitting commissioner who does business with the city if he gets elected.

On Aug. 18, Arriola wrote to City Manager Jimmy Morales saying he will not seek to renew Inktel's contract and asking Morales to put out a request for proposal early to avoid any overlap should he win.

"Since I am running to be a commissioner on Miami Beach, I want to avoid any conflicts of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest," Arriola wrote.

But the overlap would happen if he were to win at the polls.

A solicitation for a new vendor won’t be issued until December, according to the Beach’s procurement department. Morales instructed procurement to bid the contract out in December so the city can have a new company in place when the current contract with Inktel expires in April.

On Wednesday, Arriola said since the city would be looking for a new vendor while he’s on the dais, he would not vote on any items related to call center services.

“If there’s an overlap, I would recuse myself,” he said, adding that he was walking away from a contract and not seeking to do any more business with the city.

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech