Claudia Miro and Rhonda Anderson: A Political Tale of Promises and Power Play in Coral Gables

Javier Baños

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.

The views expressed in opinion pieces are those of the opinion authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Gables Insider, its staff or its affiliates. If you would like to submit an opinion for publication, please email it along with a photo and a two sentence biography of yourself to [email protected].

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35 thoughts on “Claudia Miro and Rhonda Anderson: A Political Tale of Promises and Power Play in Coral Gables

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  3. I don’t know the Rhonda Anderson you are describing. This is the Rhonda Anderson I know:
    Our neighborhood had a problem with stray cats and she trapped each cat (humanely), took them to get spayed / neutered /immunized and returned them to our neighborhood with bright so our backyard birds could see them in advance. She did this quietly and without fanfare. We never asked her to help. She saw the problem & took the initiative. We were so grateful.
    She has worked endless hours helping to restore the native hammock at Camp Mahachee. She chopped trees, carried logs, pulled weeds and planted pollinators. I have never seen anyone work harder. Again she did this quietly and without fanfare.
    She has been a fervent fighter for mangrove restoration & has spoken publicly about environmental issues at too many civic events to count.
    She has saved so many beautiful trees from destruction. Again quietly and without fanfare.
    You may not always agree with her but you should not doubt her integrity. She is a gift to our community. It will be a true shame if slash and burn politics takes her away from public service. It is my hope that these factions that have developed on the dais are able to lay down their swords and work together. There’s lots to do. Remember that a path of destruction leads to destruction.

  4. I don’t know the Rhonda Anderson you are describing. This is the Rhonda Anderson I know:
    Our neighborhood had a problem with stray cats and she trapped each cat (humanely), took them to get spayed / neutered /immunized and returned them to our neighborhood with bright collars so our backyard birds could see them in advance. She did this quietly and without fanfare. We never asked her to help. She saw the problem & took the initiative. We were so grateful.
    She has worked endless hours helping to restore the native hammock at Camp Mahachee. She chopped trees, carried logs, pulled weeds and planted pollinators. I have never seen anyone work harder. Again she did this quietly and without fanfare.
    She has been a fervent fighter for mangrove restoration & has spoken publicly about environmental issues at too many civic events to count.
    She has saved so many beautiful trees from destruction. Again quietly and without fanfare.
    You may not always agree with her but you should not doubt her integrity. She is a gift to our community. It will be a true shame if slash and burn politics takes her away from public service. It is my hope that these factions that have developed on the dais are able to lay down their swords and work together. There’s lots to do. Remember that a path of destruction leads to destruction.

  5. Let’s not be fooled, changing the election to November had nothing to do with benefits for the residents. The move was 100% to favor special interests. The sad part of the whole thing was the betrayal of Anderson. Congratulations to the three commissioners who were brave and really represented the voters. Residents can vote in April, if they don’t it’s nobody’s fault but their own. The City needs residents who care and are involved all the time.

  6. I have known Rhonda Anderson for more than 30 years. She is a remarkable honest humble individual who deserves respect.

    If we don’t agree with her is okay this is not a match of who’s better than who?

    Let’s get away from this character assassination that only destroys our human nature and does not
    resolve any issues

  7. It’s amazing how many of our smart neighbors prefer an election with 4,000 of the same folks over a much larger turnout. It’s this April elections that keep the incumbents in power. Vote in November 2024 and vote out Vince Lago!

  8. Giving elected officials the power to create their own election rules by a simple majority vote from the dais should be unacceptable to the electorate.

    Below are my personal observations:

    Changing the election from April to November may save the city money but it will lose much more, its heritage.
    The two reasons given for the proposed changes are: money and voter turnout.

    First, considering changing a time-proven historical tradition solely on the monetary cost is short-changing a priceless historical heritage. Why tinker with a 100-year old election cycle that goes back to the wisdom of the founding fathers. Coral Gables election history was initiated in April 1925 when the fledgling city was incorporated with Edward “Doc” Dammers elected as the first mayor of Coral Gables. He served a 3-year term from 1925 to 1928. Yes, money can be a driving force. However, historical heritage is priceless. Coral Gables has always taken pride in its historical uniqueness.

    Please let’s keep it that way.

    Second, there is no guarantee that changing the election date will increase voter turnout. And why after 100 years, election after election, is this now an issue? In today’s elections, time and date have become irrelevant. People can vote weeks ahead, by mail, by dropbox, and in-person. No one has to experience “voter fatigue” because people can vote at their convenience. People who choose not to exercise their right to vote, basically do not WANT to vote.

    Additionally, merging our local elections with the national schedule adversely affects us, Coral Gables citizens, by [1] disenfranchising votes due to change in terms; [2] inserting partisan politics in the mix; [3] losing home rule [4] rejecting city founder’s purposeful plan; and most importantly, [5] giving elected officials the power to create their own election rules.

    Finally, as Mr Tom Wells states in an earlier post, “Commissioner Menendez requested the 2nd reading of 23-6188 not occur before the October meeting in exchange for his initial approval at the 1st reading of 23-6188 on August 22 so that he could discuss the potential move with residents. However, the 2nd reading of 23-6188 is on the agenda for the September 13 meeting. Why?”

    Good question. What changed?

    Commissioner Menendez has the opportunity to stop this nonsense with a NO vote. Residents will favorably remember his leadership.

  9. I agree that moving the election would save the city money. However, our city should not change traditions to voting simply to save money. I believe in having our election cycle as it offers citizens a better opportunity to engage with candidates and explore their backgrounds and characters, as well as their various ideas and approaches to governance.

    Saving money is important. A serious discussion about this issue is important too. However, let’s not change what has worked so well simply to save money. Changes as important as this need to be weighed carefully and in the best interest of good governance.

  10. Sure “walk and chew”….but you’re missing the pointS! How bout we save even more money and consolidate ALL those holidays into JUST ONE special day? Why have so many holidays spread out over the calendar, like Labor Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, etc. . Let’s consolidate them all and we can cure “Holiday fatigue”! We’ll call the ONE BIG HOLIDAY something like “Festivus”…no need to “observe” all those superfluous holidays throughout the year! Save money, time, energy, seasonal cards….the heck with ‘em! Festivus for the Restivus!

  11. Consolidate elections, increase turnout and save money. Coral Gables residents are smart enough to handle local and national issues at the same time.

  12. Tom Wells puts it beautifully…How many of us travel to other municipalities (even in Coconut Grove right now) or cities around the country and you see the LOCAL election signs in front of peoples’ homes? The particular issues affecting any particular community remain the FOCUS during those specific, community elections. The issues and candidates of local elections are therefore NOT overshadowed by federal or state political races. Community politics have historically remained non-partisan and personally, that’s the way they should be. I don’t believe “voter fatigue” is real; so you go vote twice a year instead of once in one particular year? Considering early voting or voting by mail, is that so stressful? I’ve never heard anyone complain about the “symptoms” of “voter fatigue”.

  13. I’m all in favor of facilitating voting opportunities, but I’m not in favor of motivating those who don’t do the slightest effort to vote. In the CG elections, there are multiple convenient ways to vote: absentee ballots, early voting on TWO weekends, and Day of Voting. Voting in the Coral Gables elections is hardly onerous. And if only 20% care enough about their city to take a couple of minutes over the course of several weeks to vote, so be it.

    As far as Anderson is concerned, I’m yet another disillusioned Rhonda voter.

  14. Our family voted for Anderson blindly and did not take long to realize our mistake. Coral Gables voters may be well educated but that doesn’t translate to smart political decisions. Otherwise, we would not be in the predicament about overdevelopment that we are. Elections in April mean the participation of the few who really care about our city while elections in November will bring more of the same problems we have been having due to the immense amount of money poured into the campaigns of those who make the best promises to developers.

  15. Come next election vote her out, I have emailed with Anderson she responds to all your inquiries I give her credit for that but does nothing but just promises.

  16. I do prefer the Coral Gables elections to be moved to November to save costs and to increase participation.

  17. Typical of a lawyer and politician. Promise you something in one hand and take it away with the other.
    Perfectly describes anderson. Sorry for those that fell for her con game and now we are all suffering.

  18. Javier,
    While I accept and consider much of your premise, by writing “While this move may reduce the potential cost for the City Clerk’s Office,” regarding combining the Coral Gables election with a national Federal election. Ariel would have supplied numbers and not have left a statement to mere supposition.
    Also, you address the potential risk of overshadowing the local election amidst the vast federal ballot where Coral Gables residents will be immersed in national partisan discourse and culture wars. From my perspective, Coral Gables residents are well-educated and have the common sense to consider and analyze local issues from partisan politics.
    You are short on proof that 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.
    Please stick to the commissioner’s voting record and not conjecture.

  19. I agree with all said here except for Mr. Pinilla. I am sorry Mr. Pinilla but you don’t campaign on a platform just to get the votes and then flip-flop on the people that voted for you. We all have our own perspective as to how we would like to see the City Beautiful, continue to be a Beautiful City. But, don’t flip-flop on what you represented on campaign. She won because the majority wanted what Baños and Castro represent. She was deceitful. That has no place anywhere, let alone in Government.
    NO MORE. ENOUGH is ENOUGH. WE THE PEOPLE.

  20. I share your concerns as to changing a Coral Gables tradition of Commissioner elections held in April to November to be bundled with Federal, state and other local elections as well as and referendums (and all of the campaigning, solicitation and advertising that brings). Ms. Anderson’s support for such move is (a) voter fatigue and (b) voter participation. As to voter fatigue, Commissioner candidates will have a much harder time getting their message to residents while competing with Presidential, Senate, Congressional and Governor elections and partisan politics. As to voter participation, I prefer “informed voters” over “quantity voters.” If there is a significant issue before the city, I believe that voters are as likely to vote in April as in November to address such issue. And with the pro-development position being taken by certain Commissioners and a secret poll being used by Mayor Lago to justify his position (see 6:10:40 of the August 22 meeting), I believe those actions will increase the number of voters at the next election of Commissioners. Moving an election from April (potential Spring Break for parents with kids in school) to November (during hurricane season) with no early voting for runoffs after November creates a significant possibility for even lower voter turnout – particularly for any runoff vote.

    Finally, I note that Commissioner Menendez requested the 2nd reading of 23-6188 not occur before the October meeting in exchange for his initial approval at the 1st reading of 23-6188 on August 22 so that he could discuss the potential move with residents. However, the 2nd reading of 23-6188 is on the agenda for the September 13 meeting. Why? This indicates a disregard for any discussion at the August meeting and a desire to accelerate the move of the Commissioner elections from April to November with limited input and no vote by the residents. The date of voting for Commissioners should not be moved unless the Coral Gables voters make that decision. I would support a referendum to do that. But I do not support the Coral Gables Commission unilaterally moving the election from a stand-alone election in April to a partisan, crowded process in November in which Commissioner candidates do not have an opportunity or necessary funding to express their position for Coral Gables. I believe that the move to November fosters the dictatorship that incumbents like Commissioner Anderson may desire.

  21. I thoroughly agree with moving Gables elections to November to increase turnout and save money. Ms Anderson has been an active participant in the restoration of the hammock at Girl Scout Camp Mahachee which I have wanted ever since hurricane Andrew destroyed it.

  22. Dear Mr. Baños,
    I voted for Rhonda Anderson and I am happy with her trajectory as a commissioner. The best campaign promises have to be measured up with the realities and needs of our city. Each Commisioner has the fiduciary duty to act and vote on what is best for our city, which may be quite different from your opinion.
    Your predecesor in the Gables Insider won the election with about 5% of the votes of a city of over 40,000, which represented bots from people like yourself, fanatics, and possibly only interested in a prospective seat in the upcoming municipal election.
    I hope to receive your response.
    Thanks and best regards
    Martin A Pinilla

  23. Absolutely right.

    Anderson came and groveled for votes to my Building (I even donated $!), said what she had to say to be elected and has since ignored the voices of those who get her elected. I’m still trying to figure out what the hell got into her!l?!

    Bottom line is, I really don’t care what happened to here and will do my part to see her off soonest.

  24. My late husband and I also voted for Anderson. I was suspicious of her but never the less went along with her platform. Turns out my feelings were correct as she has teamed up with the anti citizen contingent of the commission. Too weak to stand on her own!
    My hopes are on Castro and Fernandez. I would value their endorssemeny of someone.

  25. While I too was surprised to see Anderson support for certain candidates and some other recent positions she’s taken on issues, I am not convinced that we should leave our municipal elections in April. A review of past elections shows that the voter turnout is always very poor and I believe that something should be done to markedly improve residents’ participation in our local elections. If you believe that moving it to November is not the right move, what are your recommendations to increase voter turnout for our City’s elections?

  26. Well said. As you and many, I voted for Anderson based on her stand and promises. Her and another commissioner are on my sights to get them unseated and bring someone with the agenda for us, the residents of CG.

    Out with the Old, In with the New.

    Perhaps Miro can run against Anderson again and given what she has done so far, we would welcome her to the commission. I endorsed and provided financial support for Melissa Castro and Ariel Fernandez. We need more like them.

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