Fernandez Elected To The City Commission; Arango O’Doski And Castro Headed To Runoff April 25

Coral Gables voters have elected Gables Insider’s Editor, Ariel Fernandez, to the Coral Gables City Commission.

With 6,833 ballots cast in the April 11th election, Fernandez defeated Alex Bucelo 58.12% to 41.88%.

In a statement to the press, Fernandez stated, “I am humbled by the responsibility placed upon me by our residents. I look forward to making residents the priority once again. Residents sent a historic message, they want a Commissioner who is unbought and unbossed and beholden only to them.”

Fernandez will replace Vice Mayor Michael Mena who is vacating the seat after six years on the Commission.

Group IV Runoff

In Group IV, with no candidate having received a 50% +1 majority, Ivette Arango O’Doski and Melissa Castro will head to a runoff.

In the four candidate race, Arango O’Doski received 47.26% of the vote, Castro received 39.43%, Sean Patrick McGrover received a 6.66% and Jackson Rip Holmes received one less vote than McGrover for 6.65%,

The runoff will take place on Tuesday, April 25th.


87 thoughts on “Fernandez Elected To The City Commission; Arango O’Doski And Castro Headed To Runoff April 25

  1. Ariel, I urge you to help get rid of that Mediterranean Bonus that encourages overdevelopment. We need smaller, more exclusive buildings. Our downtown, per Merrick’s vision, is supposed to look like Italy & Spain, not Brickell/ Manhattan.

  2. Carlos, thank you for enlightening/ explaining to me the radar camera situation. We should, at least, implement the red light cameras in residential areas to generate much needed revenue and encourage good behavior/ saving lives. Saddens me that driving & texting, along with driving & holding a phone, is permitted. So easy to enforce in our downtown where traffic is slow. Pinecrest passed a law & was enforcing after a police officer’s daughter was killed. Guess the big telecom companies don’t want this enforced. They pay the lobbyists who pay the politicians. Probably the traffic lawyers, ambulance chasers, body shops, greedy hospitals, chiropractors, personal injury attorneys got together to also buy the state legislature to ban speeding cameras. Guess the plan is to attract domestic & foreign riff raff to Florida to have more tax revenue; sort of like Nevada legalizing prostitution & gambling to encourage settlement. I’d better make more money so I can move to Palm Beach, next to Trump, where the Police are tough; hear guys can’t jog topless there & restaurants ban jeans.

  3. Congratulations to the winners of the election. I hope and trust all the new candidates will work together for the betterment of our city and quality of life. However, I would like to know one thing. Now that Mr. Fernandez has been voted in, will he remain the publisher of Gables Insider, or will a neutral, unbiased individual take over those duties in order to report on his activities as Commissioner while he is on the dais?

  4. Commisioner Fernandez, those two words really show the power of the people! Coral Gables residents know what they want and certainly what they do NOT want! We chose to live in the City Beautiful because we liked Merrick’s vision of a city; a suburb, not a major hub; residences, garden apartments, small buildings, green swales, trees, wide boulevards, do I need to say more? We have always bragged about being different, but slowly, we elected people that had another vision, but we didn’t realize it until they took control and imposed most of their views on us. We elected them to carry on our will, not to decide what we “really wanted.” They forgot that they were chosen to represent us, not to go against us! We need to be visible, not silent and hold their feet to the fire! We showed it can be done! Now let’s not sit back and watch the show, let’s participate! Let’s stop the giving away of our City to the developers! Let’s hold on to what we hold dear. Enforce the zoning code, remove anything that has been added, amended or otherwise tweaked to benefit the powerful “developers.” Anyone buying property in our City needs to know what they are buying and not expect to come back, and by throwing crumbs to us, ie, small green areas, be allowed to get their way! We have spoken. Let’s hope that everyone is listening! We need another vote to get us back in the right direction. Let’s vote for Melissa Castro and finish sending the message for this election: we are not for sale!! And remember keep your eyes on the Commission, make sure that they do what, we the people want. Do not forget how powerful the ballot box is. Complete our mission, elect Melissa Castro. And make it happen!

  5. Congratulations Mr. Fernández!! We, the residents of Biltmore Way, came out in droves to vote for you! We truly hope you stand by us, and help, not hurt our condominium communities. The very best to you!

  6. We all want responsible development and a reasonable tax base. Ponce Plaza is an example of irresponsible development that is out of sync with the City Beautiful. Melissa Castor has no big money donors which will assure unbiased decisions. Ivette’s donor list is replete with monied donors and PACS too numerous to mention. Look at it- google it— it’s public record. We need more unbiased commissioners . Vote Melissa Castor – early voting is April 21 and 22!!!

  7. Mulligan if that is your real name is obviously a developer or lobbyist or lawyer for monied interests – responsible development and respect for property owners is obviously what is requested by the voters.
    Projects like Ponce Plaza are out of sync with our charming city. As far as Rhonda Anderson, she showed her true colors in this election by aligning herself with the monied interests. So sad,Rhonda why did you betray us? Let’s hope an Ariel 2.0 is your challenger in the next election. Meanwhile vote Melissa Castro – our Latina with the right demeanor! No one owns her! Review the public donor records of her and her opponent Ivette. No monied interests for Melissa!!!!!!! Plenty for Ivette!!! Early voting April 21 and 22!!!! Vote for the divine Miss M!!!

  8. HOORAY FOR Ariel Fernandez! Hopefully you will keep the promises you’ve made to CONTINUALLY represent the residents, even after a few years go by. Commissioners like Kirk Menendez and Rhonda Anderson made similar promises, but lost their way and forgot about us. Joe Fors did too. We know that SOME development will always occur in Coral Gables, but we must consider the infrastructure that can’t accommodate more places like the Plaza which is terribly out-of-scale and should never have been approved. PLEASE don’t forget about the residents who voted for you and put their trust and faith in you.

  9. Nelson, as to the speeding violation cameras, they are prohibited by state statute. The only cameras authorized to give traffic citations are the Red Light Cameras found in places like West Miami and even in our City. Most notably on Alhambra and LeJeune and Riviera and US1. In addition, the citations are not technically classified as traffic infractions, they are actually civil citations. So you are correct here. No points, etc.

  10. Mr Mulligan, revenue for the city can be achieved by other means than development fees and RE property taxes. We reduced the speed limit in residential areas to only 25 mph. However, this is not enforced. The best way to enforce & not waste precious police time is with radar cameras. To offset opposition, take away the points placed on driving records. West Miami has no points cameras generating lots of revenue. But they also have bullet proof glass at City Hall because there are loonies who don’t want to pay and accept responsibility. The cameras would discourage pass through traffic, make the streets safer for children, cyclists, joggers, dog walkers. However, our government officials in Tallahassee and locally have been pandering to cheap transplant scum from the North and Abroad with lax law enforcement & cheap gas, so that everything goes up and they get more revenue/ taxes/ money in government coffers. Money isn’t everything. If generating revenue becomes the priority, we become pimps & prostitutes. PEACE, PAZ, SHALOM, PAIX, SALAM is what our wise, religious forebears benevolently wished upon others. Traffic, Overdevelopment, Greed have robbed us of that precious peace.

  11. To Stephen Stansill’s point, it will be interesting to see the reaction to our tax bills over the next several years if the commission swings too far from extreme “overdevelopment” towards extreme “underdevelopment.” Assuming Ms. Castro wins and Ms. Anderson remembers who she campaigned as (the pro-resident candidate, as I recall it), then there is a bloc of three commission votes ,with Mr. Fernandez, to slow development to an as-yet unknown degree.

    We need responsible development that helps us cover our ever-growing expenses without overwhelming us and harming our quality of life. Hopefully we can have positive discussions between city officials, outsiders seeking to profit off of the Gables, and residents. For too long it seems resident desires have been ignored and disregarded. Then again, maybe I believe that because blogs like this are my only information source for Coral Gables news.

  12. Congratulations, Ariel on your great victory. A great day for you. A great day for the residents of the City.

  13. Ariel, restore the morale and trust in the Police Department. The Chief of Police needs to go!

  14. Looking forward to the positive changes you will, undoubtedly, bring to our beautiful city. Congratulations!!!

  15. Congratulations Commissioner Ariel Fernandez! I’m thrilled that you have won your election and I’m hopeful that Melissa Castro comes through. I share the opinion of many here who are wary of the “developer-backed” candidates. Throughout Coral Gables history, there has never been an election where the primary concern WASN’T over-development. It remains an on-going concern and we have yet to have a Commission that has tightly held the reigns on this issue. I’m confident that you will follow-through on your promise to be the voice of the residents! The quality of life in Coral Gables is still salvageable with a resident-minded Commission…I hope your colleagues will follow YOUR lead!

  16. Mr. Fernandez thank you for serving the residents of Coral Gables tirelessly through your superb work with Gables Insider.

    There is no need for campaign contributions when candidates prove themselves in advance of elections.

    The remaining chapters are waiting to be written and if you continue along this path Coral Gables residents will be proud to call you Mayor.

  17. It’s long overdue that we have a commissioner who has vowed to represent residents and you can actually BELIEVE that person. By way of the Gables Insider, Ariel Fernandez has always monitored the pulse of Coral Gables from a ‘resident’s point-of-view’. His behavior and regard for residents is neither staged nor feigned. Other commissioners have used the buzzwords: “for the residents” as a campaign slogan, but they have NOT stood by those words and have caved to developers and other special interests. It’s long overdue to have a candidate who will actually mandate that developers to do exactly what homeowners must do: ABIDE BY THE CODES, AS WRITTEN. Sure, they’ll be variances asked for, but they should be for true “hardships” regarding construction; “not making enough money” should NEVER BE one of those hardships!! Congratulations Commissioner Fernandez! Let’s go MELISSA CASTRO!

  18. I’m elated by Ariel’s victory! This is going to show Lago, Anderson and Menendez who actually owns this City Beautiful. Now, Melissa Castro, for the icing on the cake!!! Let’s complete the City Beautiful residents’ take over!!!

  19. Congratulations Ariel and shame on you Rhonda Anderson who I voted for as the people’s candidate 2 years ago and you were not with us – why? It’s not too late – come out strong for Melissa Castro- no big $$$ donors for her- everyone please vote on the 25th!!!

  20. We need to all get out and vote on April 25 for the other reform candidate – Melissa Castro. I just reviewed the financial donors for Ivette – it’s public record and shocking – all monied interests. Ariel needs a colleague on his team- a dynamic duo!

  21. Congratulations! Do you realize the overwhelming odds you overcame? Bucelo received all the endorsements (except the Pope’s) in the world and had all the money available to him and you still won. There is hope for our country after all. What a win for the people! God bless America.

  22. Congratulations! Do you realize the overwhelming odds you overcame? Bucelo received all the endorsements (except the Pope’s) in the world and had all the money available to him and you still won. There is hope for our country after all. What a win for the people! God bless America.

  23. Felicidades Ariel! Slowly but firmly go & do what you need to do. Let’s get rid of those characters who don’t serve the the residents. It’s a very happy day. A little light @the end of the tunnel.

  24. Am I the only homeowner who thinks property taxes are too high? I supported Ariel but was disappointed when I asked him to try to lower property taxes if elected and he expressed no interest in this issue.

    When will someone run who is interested to cut the City’s unnecessary bureaucracy?

  25. The Police Chief, Lago’s phone message in direct support of Bucelo, previous pathetic Mayors like Valdes Fauli, developers, Bucelo’s disrespectful flyers and trash talk, outside money, the Lago owned present Commissioners….we have now showed you who owns Coral Gables. We have taken enough over the past few years, and we are not going to take it anymore. You all will be removed and Lago will be ineffective to keep up his narcistic leadership. The City Manager needs to be removed as well. Commissioner Fernandez, stand tall and do not let them over take you. We MUST elect Castro to have a strong resident voice in regards to how this City is run.

  26. Ariel, hopefully you hold the Chief of Police accountable for inappropriately and illegally using his position of authority to try and sway votes away from you. If you don’t and/or buy into the Chief’s bologna or his attempts to cry for forgiveness, then it will show your lack of fortitude and commitment in ensuring the City holds its employees to the highest level of ethical and moral behavior. We are all watching! We stand with you! Don’t allow his actions to set precedent.

  27. Congratulations Ariel. So happy to support your candidacy for all the reasons already mentioned above. Looking forward to you representing the voices of the community and not the developers

  28. ELATED!

    But concerned. Who will carry on the excellent work you did with oversight of our government matters?

    Also, remember, we will still keep our eyes on you, WIDE OPEN!.

    BUT ELATED! CONGRATULATIONS! And thanking all the people that got off their couches to do their duty. This is what happens.

  29. Congratulations Ariel. You ran a very focussed campaign the old fashioned way. Your opponent was well funded many times over by outsiders and special interest but could not overcome your grass roots efforts and charisma. Even your young son ran an extra mile for you.
    Now comes the hard part of being the only contrarian on the commission. There is hope for Melissa Castro to overcome a similarly well funded candidate. You will have to learn to be a diplomat and a worthy adversary. Your win has given the neglected voice of many, hope, that they would be heard with respect, not disdain.
    God Speed

  30. Again, congratulations Ariel.

    Glamorous Gablelite- you should talk to Sue Kawalerski. The verbatim from the City Commission meeting where the 2014 bike plan was approved by Commission she states that “unanimously the [Riviera Neighborhood Association] Board voted that Riviera, specifically should be considered as a Phase I routing in any master plan” (page 9).

  31. The residents of Coral Gables have spoken with a clear and resounding voice!

  32. I’m baffled and delighted. That a candidate has won against the machinery of the sold and compromised former and past mayors and commissioners bought by greedy developers and lawyers is unbelivable. That the political consultants couild not sway the voters by bombarding us with constant text messages and flyers presenting their candiate as the one who would stop overdevelopment when we all knew the developers were funding his campaign. My faith has been restored in the power of the people. Now let us continue to clean house and hope Ariel does not disappoint as Kirk and Rhonda have by folding to the INSIDERS.

  33. Regarding J Rip Holmes comment, you were TOTALLY for the huge mobility hub, since it was adjacent to your Miracle Mile stores and to the benefit of your tenants there. Also, I contacted you, when you ran previously for office, about the planned upscaling of the Ponce Corridor towards Merrick Park & you blew me off; you were solely concerned with the scale of Miracle Mile. These are 2 of the reasons you lost. You expect people to completely agree with your self serving positions.

  34. Enhorabuena Ariel!!!
    Los residentes estamos contigo. Estamos seguro que no nos defraudaras. Hagamos que Coral Gables sea una ciudad donde los residentes tengamos peso en las decisiones importantes.

  35. Congratulations Commissioner Ariel Fernández!!
    Coral Gables residents have spoken, obviously the BEST candidate for our City Beautiful.

  36. Congratulations Ariel! So glad to have a new face in the commission that will work for the residents of Coral Gables & not feed the pockets of the corrupt ones!! Great job!!

  37. Nice to see a clean grass roots campaign defeat a dirty smear campaign. A win for the good guy!

  38. Congratulations, Ariel! Many good people have put their faith in you to help defend what remains of the best aspects of our pleasant little city.

    Stick to your principles, keep it real, so to speak; speak truth to power and hold commissioner feet to the fire as you represent the decent citizenry amidst the the sleazy, narcissistic, ethically-challenged political whores currently serving (the developers) and their mercenary suppporters.

    We have your back. Please don’t shrivel up into a disappointing, mediocre, token oppositional figure like sellout Commissioner Anderson.

  39. The wolf is on the prowl!

    Beware you bought and bossed politicos that walked the streets and manned the phones in full court press to place another puppet on the stage!

    Never again will Coral Gables residents vote for Vince Lago, Kirk Menendez or Rhonda Anderson!

    Beware and be gone!

  40. We are taking our City back from all the reckless decisions made in the last few years, without regard for the residents needs or requests. Commissioners, do not bother to run again as we are going to vote you out too. Anderson, you have joined the Lago brigade and the autocratic City Manager is included too in our quest to clean house. We have taken as much as we are going to take from all of you blind, deaf, developer lovers. VOTE CASTRO and we will have the strong voice we need to push back on the reckless behavior of our leaders these past few years.

  41. Congratulations on Ariel’s win. We finally have a voice who will stand with the citizens of this City. He ran a clean campaign, not like Bucelo. NOW we need to support Castro and we will have the strength we need to stop some of the wild west behavior at City Hall. May this show all you leaders that it is time to push back and stop your decisions that go against the majority of this City. You will be next, sent to ride off in the Sunset out of town. Even though Lago had no one run against him, that does not mean we support him. Your shell game is about to be shut down along with your decisions that are made without the residents input. City Manager, you are included. Time to clean house !!!

  42. Congratulations Ariel! Who will be editing the Gables Insider as our independent voice now that you are on the Commission?

  43. Congratulations!!
    And remind everyone Riviera Dr. does not want or need bike paths. Stay away from our green residential areas.
    Keep Coral Gables green!!

  44. Congratulations !! I emailed and called friends for you and Melissa Castro . Let’s now get the word out and remind all the importance of her runoff on April 25th!

  45. Congratulations! I went out in that rain yesterday to vote for you because I think you will represent the best interests of Coral Gables residents.

  46. Ariel, congrats! You have shown that the Gables cant be bought. Now the even tougher part remains. Guiding the City Commission to serve residents especially senior citizens.

  47. Congratulations Ariel! I hope that you will not disappoint us like Rhonda Anderson- remember her- the people’s advocate who now sides with the monied interests or Kirk Menendez who hid his ownership of properties and then voted to change the zoning rules. Vote Melissa Castro on the 25th!!! She has no war chest like Ivette who is a lobbyist!! And we know how she will vote -right – look at all her ads- who is paying for them-look at her donor list.

  48. Congratulations Ariel! I’m so very glad that the Insider will finally be on the inside of those closed door meetings. Keep your promises & do us proud.

    – Residents/Voters & believers (of real democracy/fair electioneering) of Coral Gables
    -who listened to the advisory from the organisations under the excellent leadership of Sue Kawalerski
    – Ariel Hernandez/his family/his team (Bruce & others) for working hard with unwavering pursuits.

    Request/s please
    – Follow the money trail, for whatever is on your table during your deliberations
    – Watch out for what is in between lines/behind the curtains etc. etc.
    – Be very deliberate in appointing your representatives to various City Boards/Committees etc.

    At your choice, I am available for discussions and in-puts for your considerations.

  50. Congratulations! Now we need to get Melissa Castro elected. Time to get our city

  51. Congratulations Ariel! Campaigning seemed to me more like you had to weather a direct Hurricane 5 hit. There’s a lesson here: ad nauseam calls; text messages and with personal attacks; and mail stuffers $$$ or endorsements do not an election win in Coral Gables. Anybody making light that that only 6,833 ballots were casts should not ignore the percentage of margin win; just look at the 2021 elections. I’m no pollster or election analysts; but the numbers/percentage wins were comparable even with more votes cast, 10k (probably because the Mayoral seat was at issue )Ariel’s win reflects an electorate that wants the Commission and Committees to represent their values:keep CG’s small town feel and stop overdevelopment. Long time residents are getting priced put in favor of luxury high rises peppering every available piece of land or by knocking down low mod garden style apartments. Orlando Capote who held on his property with a passion amusing to many said it best: The City of Coral Gables: of the people, by the people and for the developers”.

  52. Congratulations, Ariel. Now comes the hard part: maintaining your integrity and resident support by defending the rights, needs and desires of the people who live in Coral Gables. More parks, more green space, a “real” (as in full size) dog park or two or three, development that’s in scale with the community and the immediate area. No more Plazillas! And that 104 unit apartment complex on Salzedo and Mendoza should never have been given a pass. It is way out of scale for this area of tree lined streets, older homes, duplexes, low density condos, manageable traffic and lower rents. In the morning and evening, watch chefs, servers, office workers walking to work in the business district. All that’s about to change dramatically with this one, way-out-of-scale project. Please, please do you job, keep your promise to balance growth with quality of life.

  53. Congratulations Ariel both on the win and for running a clean campaign! With your victory we are all winners.

  54. Congrats Ariel on your win!!! Coral Gables needed
    you and this was reflected in our votes!

  55. Congratulations Commissioner Fernandez. I have renewed hope for the City of Coral Gables. The politicians over the last 5+ years have run the city poorly. All they care about is increasing the tax base with these high rises. It also increases traffic, crime, density. They essentially ruin the city for the long-term residents to supposedly make room for newcomers? Hopefully, the City Beautiful will be once again. “Vote Lago out” should be our next mission!!

  56. Congratulations and well done. We look forward to hearing your voice on the Commission to give our city a reality check and help bring some “sunshine” into the political initiatives so that city residents have an idea of what’s really going on or what’s planned in Coral Gables.

  57. Congrataulations, Ariel, finally someone on that commission that doe not see María Cruz as the enemy

  58. Excellent! Our water-logged Fernandez yard sign said it all. I’m not sure what will happend to your excellent site, Gables Insider, but it is a great source of news about the Gables. You have a full agenda to handle and I know you will keep our residents and businesses in mind.



    I am hurt and bewildered by my poor showing as a Candidate in the race.

    I am not at this time endorsing either of the Candidates who made the Runoff.

    I offer my Endorsement to whichever candidate first convincingly — i e publicly with major, irreversible announcement — adopts and embraces THE SOLUTION TO RESTORING VOTER CONTROL OVER DEVELOPMENT.

    I E, AMENDING OUR CITY CHARTER TO REQUIRE VOTER REFERENDUM APPROVAL OF ANY MAJOR NEW DEVELOPMENT. (The City of Miami Beach, and the City of Key Biscayne, have done this successfully.)


    Jackson Rip Holmes

  60. We are thrilled there will be an independent voice on the Commission, one not beholden to developers. We were chilled to see all the Commissioners out together campaigning for your opponent, a potent sign that all would be in lockstep with the Mayor. It’s a win for democracy that money did not buy this election. Now on to getting Melissa Castro to join you!

  61. Congratulations Ariel I voted and supported you now as arsenio hall says let’s get busy 🎊🎉🎈

  62. Great job Mr. Fernandez. Not only did you run an honest, transparent and fair race, you never took one cent from special interest groups or lobbyist, unlike the rest of this commission and our mayor. I am very happy I voted for you and now let’s keep the momentum going. Hold every one of our eleted officials accountable, including the Mayor. Follow the money and you will see the harm they are doing to our beautiful city. This is the first step to clean house. Congrats and the residents are behind you Ariel.

  63. Ariel congratulation on your win yesterday and being a voice for the residents. Now the residents need to elect Melissa Castro in the run-off.

  64. I voted for you, congratulations! Now I expect promises kept and that you’ll help make our beautifull city “Great Again”. You can do it and we’ll back you up. Thank you

  65. Congratulations. In my house, we believe in democracy. From the beginning, my wife went for Bucelo, while I donated to Fernandez. We had two signs on our yard.

    My goal as a CG resident is to assist in electing candidates to the commission that hold the resident’s needs first, take a look at the legacy of Coral Gables, and abide by the codes and rules, work with developers to keep the City Beautiful as it was intended and not overbuild for the sake of profits to developers. Fiscal responsibility is also paramount, along with safety and protection.

    There should never be “personal Agendas” and elected candidates should be held accountable for their promises during the election. Walk the Talk

    Next candidate we want to elect is Melissa.

  66. Congratulations on the win and now vote again for Ivette Arango, have known her for almost 30 years and has a good head in her shoulders.

  67. These elected officials must do something to fix the street at Ponce De Leon from Antiquera to Salamanca. Its full of pot holed. This is messing up our tires

  68. The people have spoken – at last, all those political endorsements don’t count at the ballot box!
    Not even the most money will count.
    Vote for Castro in the runoff!

  69. Congrats my brother. May God bless you and guide you and give you the discernment you need to govern effectively ❤️👍🙏

  70. Congratulations Ariel!! And well done Coral Gables residents. We elected someone that not said he will be the voice of the residents – the point of ELECTED officials, but he will be accountable.

    Now for the next step. Vote for Melissa Castro. All you have to do is follow the money. The money trail is shocking to say the least.

  71. Gables Neighbors United and the Coral Gables Neighbors Association CONGRATULATE Ariel Fernandez on a spectacular. clean campaign and look forward to seeing the changes he will bring to City Hall that benefit RESIDENTS!

  72. Congratulations, Ariel! Well deserved. You’re a model citizen and will be a stellar leader.

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