Editorials

Runoff results — known and unknown

Russell
Russell

Last week, the Editorial Board urged the four city commission candidates left standing after Election Day — two in Miami, two in Miami Beach — to “keep it classy” as they headed into next week’s runoff elections. That is, in duking it out for the win, don’t hit below the belt.

Still, Teresa Sarnoff, who came in a distant second to another political newcomer, Kenneth Russell, in the Miami Commission’s District 2 race, managed to pull off what looked like the classiest move of all. She announced in a Nov. 6 letter on this page that she had decided to “finish” her campaign. Not that she was withdrawing and not that she was conceding at that point, but that her campaign was over and that she would fully support Mr. Russell’s quest. She said that she saw no benefit in tearing District 2 apart with the sort of divisive and gutter-level campaign that, unfortunately, has become too common.

Imagine that, a candidate who decided that going for the jugular, only to possibly lose, was just not worth it. Kudos to Ms. Sarnoff. For months she was the presumed victor, given that she had the full force of her husband’s political muscle behind her. She was seeking to succeed Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who is term-limited. Between the name recognition and a bounty in campaign funding, she seemed a shoo-in.

So her decision to step aside, indeed, was classy. It was confusing, too. Was there any need for a runoff? If so, would Ms. Sarnoff’s name be on the ballot?

Miami’s city attorney rightly has hewed to state Supreme Court precedent and election procedures. Victoria Méndez said Tuesday that the Nov. 17 runoff will proceed — and that, according to guidelines, votes for Ms. Sarnoff should not be counted or publicized. However, they will be recorded by the county’s voting system, won’t be deleted and will be available to the public.

Voters in District 2 should not sit out the runoff, even though the result now, is a foregone conclusion. They have a duty to go to the polls and cast a ballot, if only to maximize the clout that they have on the commission dais. Despite Ms. Sarnoff’s official withdrawal, which she submitted by letter on Tuesday, the district’s new commissioner requires a solid foundation from which to legislate, and that can only come from becoming its duly elected representative.

So, for the Miami City Commission District 2, the Herald recommends KEN RUSSELL.

Miami Beach

Betsy Perez faces Kristen Rosen Gonzalez in Tuesday’s runoff. The Editorial Board’s first choice in this Group 4 commission race, Scott Diffenderfer, didn’t get the nod from voters. We thought he would be a more independent voice on the commission, much needed now that the winners of the two other commission races are considered part of Mayor Philip Levine’s slate of predictable Yes votes —though we have high hopes for Ricky Arriola.

We suspect Ms. Gonzalez, would be an independent voice, too. A professor at Miami Dade College, she has served on its legislative advocacy committee and on several Miami Beach boards, including the Commission for Women. She brings the ability to work collaboratively while at the same time giving voice to some of the quality-of-life concerns of residents who feel shut out. Bothered by drug use and crime along tourist-choked Ocean Drive, she praises Police Chief Dan Oates and supports hiring more police and code-compliance officers. She was in sync with voters who rejected the Ocean Terrace plan in North Beach, decrying overdevelopment; and wants to see “multilayered solutions” to sea-level rise.

At this point, the commission doesn’t need a sycophant, it needs a skeptic.

For Miami Beach City Commission Group 4, the Herald recommends KRISTEN ROSEN GONZALEZ.

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