By a decisive margin, Key Biscayne voters chose a path of safety and stability in the historic 2020 election, approving a $100 million bond referendum and returning two incumbents and a former mayor to the Village Council, in a contest believed to be the most expensive election in Village history.
Opponents of both the bond and the incumbents made the election a question of whether local government could be trusted.
The voters’ answer? We do.
The resilience bond, aimed at protecting the island from rising seas, passed with nearly 57% of the vote, garnering 3,461 votes of 6,121 cast, a landslide, according to the Miami-Dade County Elections Department. Collectively, the six pro-bond candidates captured 9,952 votes, or 63% of the 15,700 votes cast – very close to the same percentage.
In the Council race, Brett Moss, who spent little money but circulated a detailed powerpoint supporting the bond, turned out to be the top vote-getter, with 13% of the vote. He was trailed closely by Council Member Allison McCormick and former Mayor Frank Caplan. A difference of just 55 votes separated the top three winners.
The “slate” — a group of bond opponents who attempted to identify themselves with the Republicans, fared comparatively poorly. The best outcome was for Jennifer Allegra, who earned 11% of the vote, just 306 votes behind Caplan. Louisa Conway, the president of the Key Colony condominium — who attempted to have that Association take a formal stance against the bond measure — came in 8th, with 8% of the vote.
|Brett Moss ✓||2107||13.4%|
|Allison McCormick ✓||2061||13.1%|
|Franklin H. Caplan ✓||2052||13.1%|
|Louisa Lincoln Conway||1248||7.9%|
In contrast, the winning candidates focused on detailed arguments in support of the bond and the overall quality of life on the island, rejecting a parade of horribles set forth by their critics, who included sitting Council Members Luis Lauredo and Ignacio Segurola. The two officials — not up for election this cycle — both actively opposed not only the referendum, but also tried unsuccessfully to keep it off the ballot. A legal challenge to the bond by resident Gustavo Tellez is still pending.
Through the last reporting period, the candidates had spent more than $40,000 for their races, with a pro resiliency bond political committee spending another $9,500, according to reports filed with the Village Clerk’s office. Former Council Member Luis de la Cruz said it was the most expensive race in memory.
But the spending did not completely correlate with results. While Caplan’s spend of nearly $18,000 topped all others and he was successful, he placed third behind Moss and McCormick, who spent one-tenth of what Caplan spent. Spending also didn’t help newcomer Reynaldo Figueredo, who dropped more than $11,000 and came in sixth.
Turnout in Key Biscayne was about 81%, higher than the County rate of 75%. Islanders followed many county trends, and the election was dominated by mail and early voting, with only 13% of Village votes cast on election day.
While Key Biscayners preferred Joe Biden to Donald Trump, 52-47, that margin was much smaller than Hiillary Clinton’s 58-37 lead over Trump four years ago. And the Island reversed its vote for its member of Congress in House District 27. Maria Elvira Salazar won her rematch against Rep. Donna Shalala, 51% to 49%. Shalala carried Key Biscayne two years ago, but Salazar won the island yesterday, 52% to 48%.
In County races, Key Biscayne was part of Daniella Levine Cava’s win as the first female mayor of Miami-Dade County, winning the island 53% to 47%. The closest race involving the island was the battle for District 7 Commissioner, which represents Key Biscayne and nearby areas on the Miami-Dade County Commission. In that contest, former school board member Raquel Regalado beat former Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner by 1,296 votes, a difference of just over 1%.
Like this story? Please subscribe to our mailing list as we work to build quality journalism!
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.