A poll worker outside the Key Biscayne community center, Aug. 23, 2022. After a record turnout in the primary,. strong early voting could point to a big voter on Election Dsy (KBI Photo/Tony Winton)
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Key Biscayne’s 2022 election was poised to reach record turnout with just one more day of early voting Sunday before Election Day on Tuesday. The voting comes in the most contentious — and by most accounts — the most bitterly-fought municipal election in the upscale community’s 31-year history. 

About one-third of the island’s voters already have cast ballots. Historically, about 40% or more of island residents cast ballots on Election Day, so if that trend were to hold, overall turnout could exceed 75% when all is said and done. 

Other figures as of Saturday afternoon:

  • Only 1,630 of more than 3,000 mail ballots had been returned. Voters cannot bring their ballot to the precinct on Election Day but they can bring a completed ballot to the Elections Department in Doral — or they can opt to vote in person at the precinct at the Key Biscayne Community Center with a new ballot. 
  • Countywide, Key Biscayne’s turnout is higher than the average of 27%.

Campaign Spending 

Campaigns also made their last reports on spending, with the staggering total of at least $224,000 raised for the mayor’s race, the five council candidates, and the fight over seven amendments to the Village Charter that were unknown to most voters until a few weeks ago. 

In the mayor’s race, Joe Rasco reported raising $84,125, while Fausto Gomez made more loans to his campaign, bringing his self-funded total to $57,139. Both mayoral candidates continued to write big checks to campaign consultants. 

The other big spending was on the amendment fight, with the $15,000 raised by a political committee headed by former condominium leader Louisa Conway, one of Fausto Gomez’s loudest supporters who is opposed to the proposed charter changes. There were only three reported contributions, including a $10,000 check from James L. Dettore, a branding consultant once dubbed “the King of Key Biscayne.”  It appears to be the biggest single reported donation of the 2022 political season in Key Biscayne 

Also of note: the Key Biscayne Lightkeepers PC spent $2,300 on Dark Horse Strategies, the same campaign consultant Gomez uses. 

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Key Biscayners for Ethical and Experienced Government, which is campaigning for a “yes” vote on the ballot questions, and is also supporting Joe Rasco, raised $10,145. 

Dark Money 

There was also additional spending that was either unlisted or can’t be quantified. A large expenditure of more than $11,000 was made by Coastal Beaches Matter, which has been supporting Gomez. Meanwhile, the Realtors Political Advocacy Committee put out mailers for Rasco, but it was impossible to tell which funds were allocated to that expense nor where the funding came from.

Finally, there were groups that have not filed campaign disclosures. Neither the Miami-Dade County Citizens Defending Freedom group, which is attacking Council Candidate Oscar Sardiñas, nor the Preserve Our Key Biscayne group, led by island landlord Max Puyanic, fighting a zoning law change filed reports with the Village of Key Biscayne.

Perhaps the most unusual contribution? A small donation of $500 to Rasco from Raul de Molina, the co-host of the popular interview program “El Gordo y la Flaca” on Univision. 

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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.

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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...