The three men elected to the Miami Beach Commission on Tuesday night included a candidate who squeaked into the runoff by two votes, an incumbent who sailed to reelection and a former state representative who returned to public office.
In the Group IV race, Steven Meiner bested former Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, winning 53.8 percent of the vote. After the polls closed in the Nov. 5 election, he was down one vote to eventual third-place finisher Michael Barrineau. But after a dramatic recount, the vote swung in his favor, giving him the right to go into the runoff.
In Group V, Commissioner Ricky Arriola bested Raquel Pacecho by more than 15 percentage points. And, in Group VI, former state representative David Richardson won against Adrian Gonzalez by a nearly identical margin.
“It feels great. When I initially ran, I said I was going to focus on the issues. I’m going to stay positive and speak to the residents, hear what their issues and concerns were and that’s what I did. I stuck to it the entire campaign,” Meiner said after his win.
Supporters included his former Group IV opponent Rafael Velasquez.
“I love Miami Beach and Steve Meiner was the best option Miami Beach had to move forward,” he said.
The election was required because no candidate got more than 50 percent of the votes on Nov. 5. Miami Beach residents vote for one person within each of the different groups.
At El Palacio de los Jugos, a Miami chain that has recently filed a copyright lawsuit against El Patio de los Jugos, Rosen Gonzalez expressed disappointment with the results.
“I think people didn’t know about the election and certain people worked to bring out their voters and that’s what happened … my voting base wasn’t strong enough,” she said.
Arriola’s supporters said they felt he had represented the city well and deserved to stay on.
“I think he’s done a pretty good job on the commission and I’d be willing to give him another term,” said Miami Beach resident Pam Thomas, who voted on Sunday.
For their part, Richardson’s supporters said they liked his stances on the issues.
“I went through his stuff, reading a little bit about it. I was a little bit more sold on his views and what he stands for as well,” said voter Ivan Frias.
Celebrating at Palihouse Miami Beach, Richardson said he was excited for the future, noting that Gonzalez had called him to congratulate him.
“I feel very happy and just so proud of the team we put together … my opponent Adrian called me a few minutes ago to congratulate me and I thought that was a very generous and warm thing for him to do,” said Richardson.