After the most expensive local election in Key Biscayne’s history, voters lined up today to cast ballots for a new mayor and three members of the Village Council. Voters are also deciding seven proposed changes to the Village Charter, including lifting a debt restriction to allow hundreds of millions of dollars in borrowing to combat sea level rise on the barrier island.
Turnout was heavy in the morning, with a line forming in the hallways of the community center gymnasium, with wait times of about one hour, residents said. By 8:30 a.m., about 220 people had cast in-person ballots at Precinct 51.
Outside, candidates mingled amid a forest of colorful campaign signs while police officers watched from a distance.
Fausto Gomez faces Joe Rasco in the contest for mayor, while candidates Andy Herrera, Ed London, Nicolas Lopez-Jenkins, Oscar Sardiñas, and Fernando Vazquez, are vying for three seats. Only London is an incumbent, but Rasco is a former mayor.
Aside from the municipal races, voters were picking a governor, senator, congressperson, and members of the Florida House and Senate.
Congressional District 27, covering Key Biscayne and much of coastal Miami, is seen as one of the most competitive races in the state, with a history of flipping back and forth between Democrats and Republicans.
In that race, Democratic State Sen. Annette Taddeo is challenging first-term Republican Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar. Polling has shown the race to be a tight one, although broader polling shows a potential uptick in Hispanic support for the GOP in historically Democratic Miami-Dade County as a whole.
Otherwise, most Florida incumbent U.S. House members appeared headed back to Washington, barring any upsets.
There will be at least six newcomers to the U.S. House of Representatives in Tuesday’s vote from Florida as Republicans try to take advantage of an aggressively redrawn congressional map spearheaded by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
In the wake of the 2020 census, DeSantis had ordered the GOP-controlled legislature to adopt a map devised to maximize Republican gains — vetoing the initial GOP-backed map which largely kept intact two seats held by Black Democratic members of Congress.
Heading into this election year, Republicans held 16 seats and Democrats represented 11 from Florida in the House. Florida is gaining a 28th seat due to population growth.
In the contests for the Florida Legislature, Janelle Perez is trying to retake a seat for Democrats that was won by just 32 votes in 2020, where prosecutors alleged a “ghost candidate” was employed to siphon votes away from incumbent José Javier Rodriguez. She is facing Republican Alexis Calatayud.
In a battle for state house, Democrat Alessandro “A.J.” D’Amico is hoping to hold a seat for his party against a challenge from Republican Vicki Lopez.
NOTE: The Associated Press contributed to this report
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.