Residents Win: Melissa Castro Elected To The Coral Gables Commission

Ariel Fernandez

Founder & Editor
[email protected]

Coral Gables voters once again showed that money and negative attack ads are not the path to their votes and elected Melissa Castro to the City Commission by a vote of 59.16% to 40.84% over Ivette Arango O’Doski.

Castro joins Gables Insider Founder & Editor, Ariel Fernandez, who was elected on April 11th, as the newest members of the City Commission.

Castro and Fernandez will be sworn in to their four year terms on Friday, April 28th at 11:30AM at a ceremony to be held at the Coral Gables Commission Chambers at City Hall.

They will join Mayor Vince Lago, who was just re-elected to serve a two-year term, and Commissioners Rhonda Anderson and Kirk R. Menendez, who were elected in 2021, and have two years remaining on their terms.

The first meeting of the new City Commission will be on Tuesday, May 9th at 9:00AM at Coral Gables City Hall.


43 thoughts on “Residents Win: Melissa Castro Elected To The Coral Gables Commission

  1. Congratulations Ariel and Melissa, the people have finally been heard! As to the other in the picture, just another brown nosing, crooked politician. Hope you both watch your backs with this one by your side.

  2. Ahhhh! Menendez- you supported their opponents!!
    Have you no shame??? At least Anderson and Lago had the dignity not to ruin the party. You carpet bagger- we definitely want you out in 2 years – too late to change your stripes – no integrity- not a man of your word- just another pathetic politician who just is in it for himself and the power. Baños run run run in 2 years!!

  3. Menendez- have you no self respect? You supported Bucelo and Arango!!! And you show up at Melissa’s victory party!!! Talk about sleazy politicians. You go wherever the wind blows. Well you will be gone in 2 years pal. Your emails with free ice cream and movie announcements are like the old big city Mayors trying to buy off votes. You lied to us to get elected but you got your zoning changes to sell off your properties at a big profit.

  4. Yeah, I agree, what is Menendez doing in the picture. He is not our friend, he is not for the people of C.G. He was supporting Lago and his cronies. He was critisizing both of you and campaigning for the “establishement” candidates. I hope you are not beginning to fold so earlly……

  5. The City Manager needs to be held accountable for allowing his subordinate, the Police Chief, to act in a manner that was unprofessional, unethical, and illegal during the election. I have lost all confidence in the Chief of Police, the City Manager, and City Attorney. The fact the City isn’t holding the Chief accountable sets precedent for future elections to come and emboldens him. This wouldn’t be tolerated anywhere else. The Chief and Manager should be fired!

    Ariel and Melissa, you need to stand up to them and hold them all accountable on the record. Bring honesty, ethics, and integrity back to this City!

  6. Didi

    Congratulations ! I voted for you and Melissa and emailed friends encouraging them to do the same.

    Residents have won and Gables Insider was instrumental in opening our eyes! Thank you !

    You both have a mission and we,the residents, are looking forward ti better governance and transparency.

  7. Congratulations, Ariel and Melissa! You have both run a grassroots campaign where ethics and decency was prevalent. Bravo!
    May you continue to do the job that your promised in your campaigns.
    We all won.

  8. 38 Yr. Residents
    Congratulations Ariel and Melissa, well done. You both ran a clean grassroots campaign where the concepts of ethics and decent behavior were prevalent. Bravo!!!
    May you both continue to be true to doing what you promised.
    We have all won.

  9. I’ve never been more proud of my fellow CG residents!!! This goes to show everyone, especially Mayor Vinny and his cronies, that the City Beautiful is ours, not theirs. And even though my vote for Ariel and Melissa was a vote for them, it was also a warning shot for Anderson and Menéndez: do what you have to do to put the residents’ priorities before anyone else’s or you will lose out come the next election cycle. Now we realize it is a shame nobody wanted to run against Mayor Vinny… Like Ladra said: he would have lost, fair and square.

    p.s. Has the Chief of Police resigned yet? Didn’t he promise to do so if Ariel won the election? Now Melissa has won too. We are waiting for the Chief to show he’s got what it takes and go. Maybe he can get a gig in the Miami Beach PD…

  10. Congratulations on a well earned victory to Melissa and Ariel. As others have noted, us CG residents have won with both of these candidates. And the fact that both candidates won using a grassroots campaign with no endorsements and no money from developers or special interest groups sends an awesome and huge message: We residents and these candidates will not be bought or be corrupt. Now the real work starts for both of them. And our job as residents is also not over. Vote out Menendez, he is a coward and only cares about himself. Let’s get a true leader that is not beholden to developers or special interest and vote him for Mayor while we vote Lago out. Peter Iglesias should also be asked to leave. This is a good first step, I am very happy we voted for these two and let’s keep it going to take back our city.

  11. I want to breathe a sigh of relief for this great turnout by the voters, but don’t take your eye off the ball. Keep watching, keep supporting but keep a vigil on their actions. Actions speak louder than words.

    Personally, I would like to see the salaries of the City Manager and the City Attorney cut down to a reasonable salary immediately. Please. Taxpayer dollars need to be directed toward projects that protect the integrity of The City Beautiful…before it is beyond saving.

  12. Congratulations! I hope our two new elected officials will uphold their commitments to the Coral Gables community. Please don’t go the way of Commissioner Menendez and do an about face now that you’ve been elected.

  13. The day after he was elected, I sent Ariel an e-mail with a reminder that I encouraged him to put his election sign in my yard and I hoped now he would try to lower our property Coral Gables property taxes by reducing the expenditures of our City government. I asked him to introduce a proposal to cut 1% from each department except fire and police as a beginning. He did not bother to reply to my e-mail. As the French say, the more things change the more they stay the same.

  14. Congratulations. This win speaks volumes. It was a direct rebuke of negative campaigning and special interests. It was a referendum on the direction CG and it’s mayor have been heading. No shade to Melissa, but if you remove everything and just look at CV, Ivette was the more qualified candidate. This should send a clear message to CG — the residents have had enough and expect more.

    As far as Menendez, he has got to go. Talk about self-interest. What a fake.

    For Rhonda, I’m willing to hang with her. She’s been out numbered for 2 years and has picked her battles. That’s politics. Now that she will no longer be the lone voice, let’s see what happens.

    And don’t forget – Lago has nothing to celebrate. He ran unopposed. The 2 candidates he endorsed lost. Had there been a real opusieron candidate in the race for mayor, Lago would have lost. Fernandez and Castro when their races by almost 60%. No way Lago would have won if there had been a real race.

    Looking forward to kicking the financial tires, a more robust and open budgeting process, responsible development, responsive resident services, and right sizing the compensation structure throughout the City. Accountability!!

  15. Frank Gonzalez summarized it best! Thank you for honing in on what needs to be done. Commission pay attention and don’t be dismissive of these elections. Melissa and Ariel don’t get co-opted. CG voters thank you for restoring my faith in the power of the local vote.

  16. Congrats to Ariel and Melissa for running outstanding, grassroots, positive campaigns! On other matters: 1) I’m guessing that the 2nd annual Mayor’s Ball will have many fewer attendees next year, and 2) Note to Kirk: step 1 in your “conversion” would be to have the courtesy to respond to constituent emails.

  17. In the end, Coral Gables won! The voters proved that IT IS NOT FOR SALE! Congratulations to Melissa who ran a grassroots campaign with no endorsements and no money from developers.

  18. Will see if Castro is for real with her business income catering to GC’s, developers, builders, etc. her refusal to answer citizen questions while on campaign trail only time will tell. I believe Ariel is for real. Menendez? Lol this guy only cares about his self interest, a backstabbing hypocrite that should not be trusted. 1st course of action is to remove all remaining city hall rot-City Mgr & Attorney with zero 000 severance pay.

  19. Finally. The people have spoken, loud and clear. The underdogs have won with minimal contributions and scarce endorsements. Congratulations to both Ariel and Melissa. I hope this will be the beginning of better governance for the Gables. Let’s fill the potholes, fix the sidewalks, and rethink grandiose plans and social engineering. Cut the variances and special treatment of developers. Enforce the code, don’t stretch it.

  20. Now is the time to start cleaning house.

    Start first with Peter Igelsias. He is the “City Manager”. He does not manage for the best interests of the residents in the City. He manages only for himself.

    Want some examples? Here are a few. He said his legacy is the Mobility Hub. But, over 1,500 residents signed a petition against it. He forced his legacy down our throats. His legacy will cost us over $150 million.

    Another example. Bob’s Burgers was a long time favorite. Because he didn’t like it, he destroyed it.

    Here’s another. He couldn’t find $10,000 in the City multi-million $ budget to support a Farmer’s Market that was a long-standing, favorite in the community But he found money to pay for art: $100,000 for a fake slice of watermellon; $750,000 for a fake rainbow (I can see God’s rainbow for free); and over $1 million to “famous” artists in New York.

    Yet, he can find money for himself. He gave himself a salary larger than the salary of Florida’s Governor. (He will probably tell you he has a bigger job.)

    To make sure his personal plans go smoothly, he gave the incompetent City Attorney a salary larger than the salary of the Attorney General for the United States of America. Of course, the City Attorney makes more, because the Attorney General has only more that 300 million people in the United Stastes to deal with.

    Lago supports Iglesias.

    The residents are strong and united. The above facts and more show the residents don’t want Iglesias as their City Manager. He must go.

  21. Since the residents are strong and united, the Gables Insider might consider having a poll of only the MAJOR issues that concern the residents. With it, Ariel, Melissa, and Menendez? will have input for their decisions.

  22. So happy for Melissa. I’m disappointed that she’s sharing that ‘victory photo’ with “two-faced Menendez”. He OPPOSED her! So did the rest of the Commissioners, Mayor Lago, Police Chief Hudak, , City Manager Iglesias, Slesnick, Cason, and the lot of the “establishment”. What are they so afraid of?
    IF Rhonda, Kirk, and Lago had displayed any appropriate behavior, they wouldn’t have advocated for ANY ONE in this election. Now, IF THEY ARE SMART and just a little bit humble, they would address the “learning moments” that were just taught: the City wants a change. The RESIDENTS want to be heard. The residents wanted candidates that will FINALLY be RESPONSIBLE AND ACCOUNTABLE to the residents, who are the true-stakeholders in the community and NOT the “special interests”. Menendez and Anderson will be voted out next term if they don’t catch on. Lago is on his last term, – and he should thank his lucky-charms that no one ran against him, because ALMOST ANY OTHER CANDIDATE would have beat him. GO MELISSA and GO ARIEL! CONGRATULATIONS TO BOTH OF YOU AND KUDOS TO THE RESIDENTS WHO VOTED YOU IN! THE RESIDENTS DID WHAT THEY HAD TO DO TO RECLAIM THEIR CITY!

  23. The victories by Ariel and Melissa mean that Commission meetings will include genuine discussions and open analysis of issues and options. We all win. Progress!

  24. So relieved in how this election ended. We hope you support us well but you do not push back so hard as to stop the SMART progress of our City. As for Menendez, a zebra does not change its stripes. He promised something and then turned out to be someone else. He was there to save his political career and will do anything he has to, to keep his position on the Commission. He was prepared to go to either camp. Do not trust this man as we have reached out to him several times and he has not even responded. Fear of loss is leading his actions. If they had not won big, he would still be in Lago’s pocket.

  25. While I’m elated that Castro & Fernandez were elected, let’s not cry victory just yet. The time will come where both will need to prove themselves as true voices of the community. Please don’t let us down. We need you.

  26. Better Late than never. Menendez finally did the right thing. He showed up for the proverbial photo op. He is malleable and that is a good thing. Perhaps he is smart. He wanted to be seen in the victory corner rather than suffer in the agony of defeat. He knows it will take three to tango. It would have been so nice if Lago and Anderson had shown up to display unity. This should not be personal. In any case the next two years will tell if their ship is going to sail or sink.

    I must congratulate Melissa for working so hard on a shoe string budget. She displayed modesty of a lady and not the arrogance and negativity that the citizens of the Gables have learnt to abhor.

  27. Should we ?

    Take our cardboard boxes to city hall, unflattened, and help the establishment pack up.

    After all we pay as much as the maximum contribution limit for elections in trash bill only for the establishment to look in our trash bags and have us cut up boxes.

    Fed up resident. Republican & Voted for Fernandez and Castro!

  28. Congratulations!. I knew that voting for the dynamic duo of outsiders would be a winning ticket to get Coral Gables on the right path.

    I see now, that after Commissioner Menendez had sided with the others, he now joins the celebratory mood of Melissa and Ariel.

    I and many others are here to support you for the next 4 years.

    Well done

  29. Congratulations I believe in you and trust that you will continue to do the hard work of standing up to corruption and not get swept up in the selling out of what’s left of our grand and gracious Coral Gables!
    Best wishes to you both!

  30. What does the picture mean? Did Ariel and Melissa? get Menendez to flip, to side now with the residents? If so, the residents now control their City. Lago and Anderson now have no power .

  31. I am so very happy to have Ariel and Melissa on the commission. Ariel has always been a teller of the truth, nothing goes pass him! I saw Melissa working very hard herself on her campaign, personally distributing signs and I was truly impressed. Hard work, honesty, truth and humility pays! Congratulations to both of them from your King’s Bay neighbor.

  32. This just proves the residents can make a change! We all need to continue to vote in people that really want what we want – a City Beautiful, not another Brickell!

  33. This is a great day in the history of our city. Wince Lago (that’s how it should be spelled now) has unwittingly proven that his endorsement is a curse not a political asset.

    Lago reminds me of Elliot Richardson who ran for the US Senate. His opponent addressed Richardson’s arrogance by coming up with this bumper sticker:


    Now Menendez should see that the wind has shifted and that they should side in votes with the Fernandez/Castro insurgency.

    Wince Lago, your ego-driven career totters on the brink.

  34. Remove Menendez from the photo, because he will soon be removed from the Commission.
    His picture spoils Melissa’s and the residents’ victory.

  35. Congratulations Melissa. A great day for you. A great day for each and every resident who voted for you in the City Beautiful.

  36. Why is Menendez in the picture? He supported the opposition. He supported Arango and Bucelo!!!When he ran for office two years ago he portrayed himself as an outsider and then voted for zoning changes that favored denser development
    Anderson did the same thing. You folks are next – out you go!!!

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