River Cities

Married couple file to run and serve together on Miami Springs Council

Married couple Martin Marquez and Kathie Marquez are out to make history in Miami Springs by becoming the first spouses to take council seats at the same time.
Married couple Martin Marquez and Kathie Marquez are out to make history in Miami Springs by becoming the first spouses to take council seats at the same time. For the Miami Herald

Ten candidates are vying for five council seats in this year’s Miami Springs city election. Two of them are married to each other — and hope to serve on the council at the same time.

Martin and Kathie Marquez hope to make history in Florida by becoming the first known spouses to serve at the same time on the same council or commission.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi offers her legal opinion on a married couple serving on the same council. 

“We do not have any records that identify family members running for office during the same or different elections,” said Robert Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade County Elections Department, adding that candidates are not required to disclose whether they are related to each other.

Martin Marquez, an architect and former Miami Springs city planning board member, explained why he and Kathie each want to serve on the council: “Residents get tired of the same voting block on council voting 3-2 or 4-1 on all the critical issues such as the golf course or redevelopment. We are stepping up to try and prevent the city from being changed forever.”

Marquez said he and Kathie oppose the “good-old-boy” network in the city that dates back “to the 1960s.”

A Municode search shows nothing in the Miami Springs city charter that would preclude the Marquezes from running or serving together. In Miami Springs, any qualified resident can file to run for any council seat. There are no district requirements.

In 1989, the wife of an incumbent councilman in the Palm Beach County town of Lake Clarke Shores briefly flirted with the idea of running and serving with her husband.

Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth issued an opinion at the time that Florida’s anti-nepotism law “does not prohibit a husband and wife from simultaneously serving on the same town council.”

“In addition, there would not appear to be a per se violation of the Government in the Sunshine Law by the election of a husband and wife to the town council,” Butterworth continued.

Married couples “don’t sign away their civil rights when they run for office,” said Barbara Petersen, president of the Tallahassee-based Florida First Amendment Foundation. “Yes, we worry about what they might talk about over their morning coffee, but they take an oath when assuming office and have to be careful not to run afoul of state law.”

Kathie Marquez, a first-time candidate who works as an office manager, said that she and her husband do not always agree and that both will strive to vote with their conscience.

Residents will cast ballots at the city’s golf course on April 4 for a mayor (who sits on the council and votes) and four council members:

▪ Mayor Zavier Garcia is not seeking re-election. Running to succeed him: Councilman Billy Bain; former Councilman Eric Ezla; and school official Donna Hernandez.

▪ Group I: Incumbent Bob Best, a landscaper, is running unopposed.

▪ Group II: Teacher Constantino Hernandez; Martin Marquez; Maria Mitchell.

▪ Group III: Kathie Marquez; school official Mara Zapata.

▪ Group IV: Incumbent Jaime Petralanda, a teacher, is running unopposed.

Each of the candidates has previously held or run for a council seat, except for Mitchell, Zapata and Kathie Marquez.

The three-square-mile bedroom community rests just north of Miami International Airport and has 14,316 residents, according to the 2013 Census.

Nearly 35 percent of the city’s residents turned out to cast ballots in the 2013 election, county records show.

Miami Springs election

▪ When: Tuesday, April 4, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

▪ Polling place: Miami Springs Golf Course, 650 Curtiss Pkwy.