In a tight runoff race, Miami Beach resident Kristen Rosen Gonzalez won the district 3 commissioner seat last night. Rosen Gonzalez got 55% of the 6,500 votes cast, while her opponent, Raquel Pacheco, trailed by around 600 votes.
“Miami Beach deserves an independent voice of resident advocates,” Rosen Gonzalez told SFMN, “somebody that they know cares about their interests, somebody that they know is going to protect our municipal property and focus on making the city a better place for everyone.”
Rosen Gonzalez, who has served on the commission in the past, pledged to curtail development in the city. She said her first effort will be to stop the controversial proposed sale of the North Shore library for *condos and a park. She also promised to focus on density control and the elimination of large construction projects — recurrent issues of contention between commissioners and North Beach, the city’s northernmost neighborhood.
“Rosen Gonzalez won because she represents residents rather than developers and special interests,” said North Beach activist Ariana Hernández-Reguant. “She ran a grassroots campaign and in North Beach, we are single-issue voters: we need to stop overdevelopment and developers’ control over city hall.”
Rosen Gonzalez won even though she ran a colorful campaign not exempt from controversy. She had to apologize for claiming she was Hispanic – as she kept her former husband’s last name — and for a political ad saying the Miami Beach Democratic Club endorsed her — when it had supported both candidates.
Her opponent got endorsements from well-known local authorities such as Miami Dade Mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, former Congresswoman Donna Shalala, the Democratic Party, and the Miami Herald. In the end, the Miami Beach residents spoke — at least the almost 5% of them who showed up at the polls — 3,500 of the 87,000 residents.
“Her win is a win for the regular people,” said Hernández-Reguant. “Tables are turning in Miami Beach. The single issue was not crime or tourism. It [was] democracy: a government that represents residents and not developers, where decisions start with residents rather than be imposed on residents.”