Many news outlets had described the candidate forums heading into the general election as “boring” and lacking anything noteworthy.
Wednesday night’s debate held by the Coral Gables Neighbors Association, Gables Good Government, Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables, Ponce Neighbors Association and Urban Core Community Coalition, Inc. was nothing of the sort.
For starters, candidates Jose Valdes-Fauli and Kirk Menendez, both skipped the debate. Although the event had been scheduled for a week and both candidates committed, neither made themselves available to answer resident questions. Valdes-Fauli notified moderators of his absence due to a family emergency prior to the start of the debate. Menendez agreed to the debate, but sent an email stating he would miss the debate due to a prior family commitment.
The information session format prevented the two remaining candidates, Rhonda Anderson and Javier Baños, from skirting any questions. The moderator, former prosecutor Leon Kellner, did not hold back on pressing the candidates for direct answers.
Nothing was left off the table, presenting the over 130 participants with an in-depth look at the candidates on their stance on the issues, as well as their backgrounds. They also presented the pressing questions they would have asked from Valdes-Fauli and Menendez.