Coral Gables Election: Meet The Candidates

Residents of Coral Gables began receiving their Vote By Mail ballots last week symbolizing the start of the 2021 election.

Voters will have the opportunity to fill three vacancies on the City Commission: Mayor and two Commission seats.

Below, you will find the names, pictures, personal statements and Leaders & Coffee interview of candidates who participated. You will also find a link to their Gables Insider candidate questionnaire providing you with answers, from the candidates, to 16 of the most pressing issues affecting our City.

Gables Insider reached out to all 13 candidates. Some did not reply to our invitations for a candidate statement, candidate questionnaire or the opportunity for a Leaders & Coffee interview.

GROUP I: Mayor

As your commissioner for the last eight years, there are many important issues I’ve worked to try to solve. Some that we face daily- and some that will affect us well into the future. I pushed to establish detailed financial performance measure that led to Coral Gables receiving triple A ratings for our city’s finances from all three national reporting agencies. My record clearly shows I have consistently voted to preserve the integrity of our neighborhoods and hold developers to the zoning code and land use map in the downtown.

Municipal Government is supposed to work with people coming together to discuss with elected officials the issues of the day knowing the public has the right to be served. To be effective there must be respect and civility on both sides. I am committed to dedicate my full time as mayor for this, and be available every day to meet with you, talk with you and work with you.

I am running for Mayor because I believe we need to work together to protect the quality of life of the residents of the City of Coral Gables. However, in order to accomplish this we need to be ready to listen to our residents. As Commissioner, I have made transparency one of the cornerstones of my service to the community and I believe that is one of the policy issues that clearly distinguish me from my opponent.

Since 2013, I have made myself available to address residents’ concerns weekly in person, over the phone or, more recently, via zoom. As Mayor, I will expand my office’s open-door policy, committing to meeting with residents every Friday afternoon in my City Hall office or wherever is convenient, as well as expand our popular town hall meetings to get our residents input on issues before they go to the City Commission for a vote.
I am running for Mayor because I believe the developer driven, recent Zoning Code Rewrite, so drastically surrenders our City to developers, Coral Gables will no longer be a suburb within 15 years. And people, faced with urbanization and crime, will move with their children to Pinecrest and other TRUE suburbs, rather than subjecting their children to the danger of crime brought on by urbanization.

My opponents have supported vastly expanding development of bigger residential houses, apartment buildings, and multi-family buildings, and support raising Miracle Mile’s height, while mandating REMOTE PARKING!, which will devastate Miracle Mile – e.g. do you want to remote park?

This was despite massive protests via Zoom of our voters. Additionally, they’ve approved the WaWa project across from Carver Elementary, endangering the safety of our school children, and failed to hire new firefighters despite 50 new large buildings over the past 30 years.

I ask for your vote.

GROUP II: Commissioner

As Commissioner, I will continue the work I have done for 16 years (see and I will:

Patiently listen and address residents’ concerns at meetings, weekly “office hours” and during monthly group brainstorming sessions.
Ensure that over-sized development stops by amending zoning incentive programs encouraging larger buildings with minimal set back.Repeal ordinances that eliminate notice requirements for “as of right” commercial development and clearly post all commercial projects on the City’s website.
Increase traffic enforcement and traffic calming.
Ensure the Police and Fire departments have sufficient personnel to handle the increased demand resulting from new buildings.
Require residents’ permitting applications receive the same priority as developers. Expedite electronic permitting.
Revitalize downtown, provide dedicated Freebie service at parking garages, and expand Freebie/Trolley services.
Add neighborhood parks, dog parks and expand/maintain tree canopy.
Improve drainage, advance septic/sewer conversion.
Avoid wasteful spending.
This past year Our Community suffered a once-in-a-lifetime event – one that changed the way we live, work and play. While we are finally returning to some semblance of normalcy, there are some changes that are permanent. Traditional retail was failing prior to the pandemic because of online shopping. The pandemic merely accelerated it.

Like 1925, we have entered a new economy, in which technology, mobility, and sustainability is at the forefront. Architecture and design must adapt to post-pandemic realities, with more outdoor areas, nearby locally owned businesses that cater to residents’ needs, alternate modes of transportation, as well as factoring the increasing impact of climate change on Our Community.

As someone who lives, works and plays here, I am truly invested in Coral Gables. If elected, I will work with all stakeholders to develop a resilient vision for Our City’s next century that preserves our quality of life.

What I have to offer the City of Coral Gables is a fresh set of ideas and someone who is not beholden to special interests. I am a lifelong resident of Coral Gables and only want the best for my home. As I got to know voters, I learned their concerns were my concerns and what I offered in my platform resonated with them. Regardless of the outcome I plan to involve myself in the community, I have cultivated my friendships during this journey. If elected I plan to be transparent and to take the concerns of the community seriously; our elected officials should be leading by example and the relationship between city Hall and the Community needs to be repaired.

I have been a resident and active member of the Coral Gables community for almost two decades. I live, serve, and raise my family here. I enjoy the small town feel and unique architecture that make our city exceptional. Like many of you, I do not want to see the fabric of our city damaged by high density expansions which serve no useful purpose other than to enrich the coffers of developers and the politicians that enable them. Some may take a short-sighted view of higher tax revenues resulting from such development.

I distinguish myself by instead focusing on our standards of health, peace, and comfort. My decisions will be based on whether a proposed project enhances or diminishes our lifestyle. Developers are well represented in city hall; our families are not. I am your voice and advocate to preserve the quality of life that makes Coral Gables inimitable!
I am running for office to give say on what happens in Coral Gables back to the residents where it belongs. As Commissioner, I will bring transparency to the issues that are top concerns for our residents, bring accessibility by keeping weekly office hours where residents can find solutions to their concerns and will implement much needed community programs that will benefit our cities most vulnerable, our seniors.

To achieve transparency and increase resident awareness of proposed construction projects, I would propose the implementation of alternate commission meeting schedules to accommodate residents who work during the day and insist on the use of layman’s terms removing the use of acronyms from our public meetings. Having worked in the public sector for over 20 years, I am uniquely qualified to bring experience and knowledge on how to get the job done solidified by a bachelors and master’s degree in public administration.
I am a retired Bank President, an experienced community advocate in health, education, and the arts, in addition to being a long-time resident of Coral Gables.

I am uniquely qualified to bring a different perspective to the commission with my financial and business expertise. I am retired, and I pledge to make the commission my full-time endeavor.

I want to ensure that the city optimizes its resources to invest in our infrastructure and provide a positive, long-term strategy. I prioritize green spaces, community parks, historic charm, cultural arts, safe streets, and a walkable and scalable community.

I pledge to govern collaboratively, prioritize communication with residents, and focus on financial and environmental stewardship.

I am running for the City Commission to provide financial oversight and ensure that the local community remains at the heart of our actions. I hope to earn your trust, confidence, and vote.

GROUP III: Commissioner

My wife and I moved to the City Beautiful 11 years ago to build a home with our children in the premier historic enclave of South Florida. The goal of my campaign is to be a voice for moderation, to curtail the abuses, and preserve the original vision of the City Beautiful, while expanding and improving city services.

My over 20 years of experience as a Certified Public Accountant and attorney, as well as the manager and advisor for over 100 hundred of small businesses, including my own, puts me in the unique position to best serve the interests of Coral Gables residents.

After more than 15 years on city boards, I want to continue my service as an advocate for residents and change the conversation in the Commission to focus its legislative priorities in the financial challenges of the future, such as sea level rise, while maintaining the cultural heritage of our foundational principles. I welcome residents to call me at 305-519-5581.
As a lifelong Coral Gables resident, I recognize the importance of preserving and enhancing the city’s exceptional quality of life. My experience as a member of the Code Enforcement Board has provided me not only with a sense of responsibility for preserving the unique beauty and livability of the city, but also with an understanding of residents’ issues and interests.

Serving as a commissioner would be a privilege, as well as an opportunity to give back to a place that has been an integral part of my life. I look forward to serving the city as part of the next generation of leaders who will bring a new energy to government. I intend to build on the achievements of past and current leaders to continually improve services and strengthen the city’s economy. I respectfully and humbly as for your support and vote on April 13th.
I am a lifelong resident of Coral Gables since 1962 and a graduate of Gables High, Class of 1980. I coached at the Coral Gables Youth Center for over 25 years, served on the Youth Center Board since 1992 and served our community tirelessly for 40 years.

I have extensive experience in Government Affairs advocating before local, state and federal government to bring legislative and financial relief to South Florida especially to those in need.

As Commissioner, I will brush politics aside and humbly serve our community. Our kids will have ample parks to play in, our seniors will never be alone, our residents will have a “seat at the table”, our septic tanks will stop contaminating our aquifers, and I will not support variances to increase the height of new projects beyond what the Code allows.

“Before you can lead, you must learn how to serve.”
The residents have an important choice to make on the future of our city. We face a number of issues for the next generation. Most importantly, as a community we can choose to continue on the same path that has led to over development and uncontrolled traffic or we can choose a path of common-sense ideas. In my humble opinion, we need to focus on prohibiting development that’s not in line with our values by holding the line with developers. Further, we need to continue to invest and fund our police and fire departments. I believe we can reallocate and reinvest additional resources in officer equipment, training and education. We need to invest in the acquisition of additional firemen so that we meet national standards. Additionally, we also need to reenergize our small businesses and preserve, restore and honor our historic landmarks for future generations. As your next commissioner I pledge to do the best job I can for our great city.

8 thoughts on “Coral Gables Election: Meet The Candidates

  1. N. D’Cuffi
    In response to your one-sided comment, it is funny how you would only post Lago and not Keon. I guess because her record is development, development, development. I bet her contribution list reads as a “Who’s Who” in the construction and development community. She has shown her true colors where Lago has been against her votes. Contributions do not mean who he will support in the future, otherwise they all need to be voted out. I am so sick of Keon’s backdoor dark lies and twists toward Lago, that I hope she is escorted out of this City. She has been awful in her treatment of residents when she disagrees with our requests. She has forgotten that in public service they are NOT elected to rule or even lead us, but to serve the residents of this Community. Lago has severed us well, always being there and always supportive in his responses. This is who I want to lead this City, not arrogant self righteous people like Keon. We need to keep our City beautiful.

  2. The political party affiliation of each candidate should be disclosed. “Transparency”

  3. Here is my take on development: instead of having politicos decide on the cantankerous situation that prevails in CG regarding development, initiate a city binding referendum. Politicos have not shown good faith concerning this paramount issue. Let the voters and citizens of CG, the paying taxpayers, decide once and for all and do away with nonsensical, recalcitrant arguments espoused by a political class only interested in their advancement to the detriment of city of Coral Gables citizens/ residents.

    Sometimes the representatives in a representative style of government simply does not work. This seems to be the case now.

    Switzerland has lot’s of plebiscites – a kind of direct democracy – and they are doing fine. Time to settle this development issue via referendum, and binding! As a resident of CG, I am disgusted by the infantile, rude and abrasive leaders that have proven their incompetence at governing and lack of leadership,

  4. I have lived in this beautiful city for 55 years. I am disgusted at the continued lack of consideration and respect for the residents who over and over voice their opinions against the massive buildings being constructed turning this city into another Brickell. The reason we live here and pay the taxes we do is because of it’s beauty. The past couple of Mayor’s and some of the commissioners have completely ignored the voices of the very people who elected them to their jobs/positions and have, not only have they ignored them but have been downright nasty, crude and disrespectful to the residents. Pat Keon, being one of the most disrespectful has followed the same shallow path Mayor Valdes Fauli has. I urge the residents to vote for Commissioner Lagos for Mayor, who has shown time and again with his votes that he LISTENS to his constituents, often being the lonely voice speaking up for us. Let’s show these Commissioners who voted them in by voting them out.

  5. I urge everyone to see the campaign contribution disclosures. Here is the link for Vince Lago.

    If you think Vince (mr. transparency) is going to stop development, think again!!! Almost every contribution of his $300K++ is from a developer, zoning lawer, lobbyist, or someone involved in paving our little city. Do you really know Vince?? He won’t tell you the construction company where he is an “executive”. Why would they pay him if he is a full time City Servant? Give me a break!! I refuse to vote in this election.

  6. Votes are counted by the Miami-Dade County Department of Elections, which manages the election for the City of Coral Gables.

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