Baños is the Editor of Gables Insider
In the intricate realm of local politics within the picturesque city of Coral Gables, Florida, the names Claudia Miro and Rhonda Anderson have become emblematic of a turbulent narrative marked by pledges, expectations, and a growing sense of disillusionment. Against the backdrop of the future City election, their political trajectories have come under scrutiny.
My first encounter with Claudia Miro transpired over two years ago during my campaign for City Commissioner. Miro, a former City of Miami employee, exhibited qualities of a seasoned civil servant and a single mother, and she emerged as a formidable contender challenging Rhonda Anderson, then a resident, for a seat on the Coral Gables Commission. On paper, Anderson appeared to possess superior credentials—an experienced criminal law attorney and a seasoned member of the Planning & Zoning Board, seemingly tailored for Commission duties.
Both candidates championed a “resident’s first” approach and advocated for controlled growth. However, it was Anderson who ultimately resonated more profoundly with a subset of residents dedicated to preserving the traditional character of the “City Beautiful.” In April 2021, Anderson achieved a resounding victory and assumed her role as a Commissioner. To secure Miro’s endorsement during the runoff election that April, she simultaneously pledged an appointment to the prestigious Planning and Zoning Board to Claudia Miro, where Miro would go on to serve with distinction under Anderson’s sponsorship for over two years.
Nonetheless, the tenure of Commissioner Anderson has unfolded in stark contrast to the promises she made, particularly to her most ardent supporters. It is a common lament in the realm of politics that elected officials often appear to do little more than disappoint those who worked fervently to secure their victory. Yet, there is typically an expectation that a candidate will, at the very least, advocate for the positions that contributed to their electoral triumph. In the case of Mrs. Anderson, this hope has been largely unfulfilled. She has not emerged as a voice of opposition, instead providing mere lip service to positions she once passionately espoused. Anderson has consistently found reasons to align herself with the more development-oriented members of the Commission, seemingly at odds with her earlier commitments.
Claudia Miro’s trajectory has been quite different. While she admittedly faced challenges in maintaining a stellar attendance record on the Board due to her responsibilities as a single mother, her voting record consistently reflected a dedication to improving residents’ quality of life. As recent elections reshaped the composition of the Commission to reflect a more “resident-focused” perspective, Claudia Miro became a pivotal figure in this evolving dynamic. Notably, in the election of April 2023, Anderson supported candidates opposed to the “resident-focused” agenda, including another member of the P&Z Board with a similar attendance record than Miro.
Therefore, when Anderson reappointed Miro to the Board, residents finally possessed the capacity to influence the Board’s orientation, emphasizing traditional City Beautiful residential housing and more moderate development. Only one additional vote was required, and it was secured in July 2023 with Miro’s support. Nevertheless, the subsequent actions of those in power were swift and surprising. Mrs. Anderson removed Miro from the Board and appointed one of her staunchest political supporters—a former power broker in City Hall who had been previously rebuffed by Miro during the July vote.
But Anderson’s maneuvering did not conclude there. Her next step seeks to insulate her from accountability for her actions. On September 13th, 2023, the Commission will vote on moving the forthcoming Coral Gables municipal election to coincide with the general Federal Election in November 2024. While this move may reduce costs for the City Clerk’s Office, it risks overshadowing the local election amidst the vast federal ballot. It further would limit the early voting period during the unavoidable December Runoff Election. This could potentially enable incumbents to rely on influential political and financial supporters who may have less stake in the local community, thus influencing elections in their favor.
In making this proposal, Mrs. Anderson appears willing to immerse the city into national partisan discourse and culture wars, all in pursuit of extending her tenure in office, regardless of whose interests this ultimately serves.
I urge concerned residents who wish to safeguard the integrity of local elections and maintain their focus on critical local issues to engage with their Commissioners and advocate against this misguided measure. It is my hope that Rhonda Anderson reevaluates her course and returns to represent the very people who entrusted her with their votes, rather than pursuing political strategies that may ultimately undermine the voice of Coral Gables residents.
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