Joe Rasco won an easy victory Tuesday to again become Key Biscayne’s mayor, in an election that set records for campaign spending on the island of 15,000. He trounced lobbyist Fausto Gomez, 62% to 38%.
“Tomorrow the next great chapter of Key Biscayne begins,” Rasco said, saying voters “wanted a leader to guide us into the future.”
Rasco, who was the island’s mayor 1998-2001, is a former county director of intergovernmental affairs and had the endorsement of outgoing Mayor Mike Davey.
The latter part of the campaign featured a battle over several proposed ballot questions that Gomez made the center of his message after coming in second in the August primary. Voters rejected lifting the debt cap, changes to zoning rules and capital purchase rules, and also rejected a proposed primary system for elections. The only two ballot measures that passed involved increased transparency for public meetings.
Rasco, who was on the charter commission that proposed the changes, took the defeats in stride, saying the rejection wouldn’t put a kink in his agenda.
“Not in the least bit,” he said.
In a short statement, Gomez congratulated Rasco, but took credit for defeating the ballot measures. “Our message carried, but our candidacy did not,” Gomez said.
The mayor’s race saw more than $140,000 in direct spending by Rasco and Gomez, and at least another $80,000 by political committees. Complaints are pending with the Florida Elections Commission for some of the reporting.
In the Village Council election, incumbent Ed London was re-elected, marking a third term. Joining him are two political newcomers, Oscar Sardiñas, a sales and marketing professional, and Fernando Vazquez, an environmental engineer. Sardiñas came in a strong second after being targeted by a Christian nationalist group, the County Citizens Defending Freedom — a group which had also joined in campaigning against the ballot questions.
Federal, State Races
It was a solid night for Republicans both in Miami-Dade County and Key Biscayne, with Alexis Maria Calatayud defeating Janelle Perez, 54-45 for State Senate. Vicki Lopez flipped a State House seat for the GOP, defeating Alessandro “A.J.” D’Amico, 51-49 in District 113.
On Key Biscayne, voters sided with the GOP in all of the top races. Gov. Ron DeSantis carried Key Biscayne 57-42 over Charlie Crist, Sen. Marco Rubio won 55-44 over Val Demings, and Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar beat Annette Taddeo, 56-43.
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.