Joe Rasco was sworn in as Key Biscayne’s ninth mayor Thursday, outlining a plan to move the village forward in costly projects to fight sea level rise. Also sworn were Council Members Oscar Sardiñas and Fernando Vazquez.
“We are at a critical point in our history,” Rasco said to a crowd of about 200 gathered in the island’s Community Center. “Implement our resiliency projects to mitigate flooding, improve our stormwater system, and bury our power lines,” he said.
Then, he turned to Steve Williamson, the village manager and former Army Corps of Engineers colonel mapping out the resiliency work.
“Mr. Manager, 2023 is our year. Let’s start building.”
With Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and County Commissioner Raquel Regalado sitting in the front row, Rasco ran through a list of massive projects that will depend on their cooperation — and the deep pockets of Miami-Dade County.
“Let’s begin the process of replacing Bear Cut Bridge. Let’s eliminate our risk of losing access to our island.”
Rasco, who is returning to Village Hall after serving as mayor two decades ago, made no mention of the bitter election campaign that shattered spending records, nor did he appeal for unity. Instead, he praised his Village Council colleagues.
“Together, we will fight for our causes,” he said, citing a line from Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest. “What is past is prologue.”
But other speakers were more blunt about the invective thrown about in the election.
“Refrain from name-calling and unfounded accusations of wrongdoing. We, as a community, are better than that,” said former Mayor Mike Davey. “Please, do not seek your answers in the chats.”
Earlier in the evening, Davey’s 13-year-old daughter Mia gave an emotional speech that touched on her experience of growing up with her dad’s political career. She said it presented many great experiences, but called out unfounded allegations made during the 2020 campaign that she said caused difficult interactions with friends.
Davey was unopposed that year, but faced verbal broadsides from Andy Herrera, who used a bullhorn to vaguely accuse the mayor of corruption as he campaigned for a slate of candidates, never offering proof.
“I’m still waiting for my trip to Hawaii,” Mia Davey said.
Herrera came in fifth in this year’s election. He appeared to take the references to his conduct in stride, smiling from a middle row while the younger Davey tearfully spoke. Afterwards, the former mayor said Herrera apologized to his daughter.
“That made an impression on her. I was grateful for that,” he said.
Ed London, who won re-election to the council, did not attend the installation ceremony. He will be sworn in when he returns from a trip out of the country, said Village Clerk Jocelyn Koch.
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.