Following the death of Vice Mayor Robert Welsh on Feb. 23, four people are vying to join the South Miami city commission in the election scheduled for April 20.
Following the close of the qualification period, four candidates have applied to run: Mary Ann Ruiz, Brian Corey, Zach Mann and Henry Tien.
Ruiz, the chair of South Miami’s Planning and Zoning Board, said she’s focusing on improving the city’s financial stability, advocating for responsible and sustainable development, and finding affordable and workforce housing for residents.
Corey, another member of South Miami’s Planning and Zoning Board, said he plans on improving the community’s infrastructure to involve more residents in the commission’s decision-making process, implementing smart development plans to help with increased density and reenergizing the downtown area by making it a destination for residents of neighboring cities to visit.
Mann, a member of South Miami’s Planning and Zoning Board from 1998 to 2006, said he plans to work with the city commission to reestablish the Community Relations Board and bring back representation for all members of the community. He also wants to implement methods for calming traffic, and enhance public safety through the improvement of resident and city employee relations.
City Clerk Nkenga Payne said there have been no issues regarding the candidates, and all relevant info is on the city’s website. She noted, however, each is facing a challenge due to the short time frame.
“It’s a very short window of time, so they don’t have much time to raise money,” Payne said.
Mayor Sally Philips, who did not weigh in on which candidate she preferred, said she was hopeful the winner understood the basics of how city government works as well as the obligation each commissioner has.
“Every week on Monday and Tuesday before the commission meetings, the city manager sits down with each of us individually and discusses the various items that are coming before us,” she said. “That’s another part of the expectations.”
She said she’s looking for the next commissioner help her run efficient meetings.
“We’re doing these meetings at 7 p.m., so they must use their time wisely and not pontificate or get carried away with long-winded discussions because people aren’t going to be paying attention if you rattle on,” Philips said.
City Manager Shari Kamali is sure that residents will elect someone that will keep their best interests in mind and is confident that they will make the right decision.
“We have been very lucky picking great elected officials, so I’m sure the next one is going to be the same,” she said.
The City Parks Department held a memorial service for Welsh on March 3.
“That has sort of filled our minds and our focus for over a week,” said Kamali.
Reached by phone, Welsh’s wife, Marilyn Magill, declined to speak about her husband or the upcoming race.
For the Record: After publication, Brian Corey requested a slight change to his position on development plans for on downtown. The story reflects that change. Also, Zach Mann’s background and positions have been added. They were excluded due to a reporting error.