Tuesday is Election Day in Miami, when voters will choose two commissioners to represent neighborhoods in Coconut Grove, Brickell, Allapattah and Grapeland Heights.
In Miami, a five-person elected City Commission creates city laws, decides how to spend taxpayers dollars, sets parking rates, and determines the future of publicly owned land — from where to build a stadium to if a major music festival should be allowed to operate in a park. Typically, major decisions require three votes to pass. City elections are consequential — voters in District 1 and District 2 will elect their representatives to vote on these important items.
Multiple candidates are vying for both seats. If a candidate wins 50%+1 vote, they win the election outright. If not, the two candidates with the most votes will go to a runoff election Nov. 19.
Precincts are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Unlike during early voting, a registered voter must go to their assigned voting location, which is determined by their home address. You can visit Miami-Dade County’s elections department website to find your voting precinct.
In the city of Miami, more than 6,800 vote-by-mail ballots have been returned from voters in the city of Miami by the end of the day Monday, according the Miami-Dade County elections department.
▪District 1: 3,687 mail ballots returned
▪District 2: 3,132 mail ballots returned
Miami-Dade elections sent out 16,049 vote-by-mail ballots to registered voters in Miami. Only about 42% of those who asked for mail ballots have returned them. A total of 1,774 people voted early.
Three other cities are holding municipal elections Tuesday: Hialeah, Miami Beach and Homestead. The Miami Herald has joined local social impact organization Radical Partners on an initiative to encourage more participation in local elections. Voters in each of these cities can learn more about their local candidates and ballot questions on votemiami.org.
District 1 in Miami includes neighborhoods stretching from the Health District around Jackson Memorial Hospital to the north slice of Flagami near Blue Lagoon, with Allapattah and Grapeland Heights in between. It is among the most diverse working-class areas in the city of Miami that is vulnerable to upcoming redevelopment and gentrification. Several candidates cite protecting the area’s neighborhoods and residents from the impact of overdevelopment, reducing crime, and improving transit among their priorities.
The current district commissioner, Wifredo “Willy” Gort, is term-limited. Seven candidates are vying for the seat. Read profiles of them below.
BEHIND OUR REPORTING
To foster more robust civic engagement and greater participation in local elections, the Miami Herald is working with Radical Partners, a Miami-based social entrepreneurship organization, in a partnership called Vote Miami.
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In District 2, incumbent Commissioner Ken Russell faces three challengers: real estate broker Jim Fried, businesswoman Rosy Palomino and real estate agent Javier Gonzalez.
From potholes to climate change to overdevelopment, a range of issues have driven the debate in District 2. The district stretches from Coconut Grove up to Morningside, hugging Biscayne Bay and encompassing some of the city’s densest, tallest buildings as well as some of its leafiest single-family home neighborhoods.
Russell is running for his second term in office. He’s raised just over $1 million total for his re-election campaign — an amount of money he once called “obscene” when he first ran for office in 2015 against a well-funded opponent. He’s also steered $150,000 of his campaign funds to a candidate in the District 1 election in hopes of electing an ally on the City Commission.