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Runoff elections are today in Miami Beach, city of Miami. Who's running?

South Pointe Elementary School in Miami Beach, FL on Nov. 7. 2023
Kate Payne
South Pointe Elementary School in Miami Beach, FL on Nov. 7. 2023

Election Day has passed, but the city of Miami has two commission seats still to be decided by voters in a Nov. 21 runoff election. At the same time, Miami Beach voters must also choose between two candidates for mayor. 

City of Miami

In the Miami District 1 runoff, Alex Díaz de la Portilla, who is facing charges including money laundering and official misconduct, faces Miguel Angel Gabela

Díaz de la Portilla got 37% of votes cast on Nov. 7, while Gabela got 29%. Less than 4,300 voters cast ballots in the election. Three other candidates in the running did not top 22%. Only the top two candidates qualify for the runoff.

Díaz de la Portilla was arrested in September and charged with money laundering and official misconduct. He has rejected the allegations and pleaded not guilty in court.

Gabela recently won a lawsuit against the city that allowed him to run after city leaders drew a city district map that carved his home out of the district.

In the packed field for District 2, incumbent Commissioner Sabina Covo beat out her seven challengers, but with just under 40% support she's headed for a run-off against Damian Pardo, who garnered 26% of votes. That race drew a higher turnout than others, with more than 7,000 voters. District 2 includes the historically politically active community of Coconut Grove.

Among Covo's supporters: Ruth's List Florida, which is dedicated to electing Democratic pro-choice women statewide.

Pardo counts with the endorsement of Michael Putney, who retired last year as senior political reporter at WPLG Channel 10 and former host of the local television show's This Week in South Florida.

Miami Beach

In the Miami Beach mayor’s race, Commissioner Steven Meinergot 30% of the vote ahead of second-place finisher Michael Gongora, who got 28%. More than 13,000 Miami Beach voters cast ballots.

Meiner's campaign website outlines his several priorities, if elected mayor. It includes boosting law enforcement and security, countering overdevelopment and addressing homelessness.

Gongora, following election night on Nov. 7, released a statement noting his promises, if elected, and his endorsement from police.

“I have been a staunch advocate for implementing environmentally sustainable policies, promoting inclusivity, putting limits on excessive development that causes traffic congestion and strains our infrastructure, and improving and expanding public safety measures, which is why I was endorsed by the Miami Beach Police," he said.

The Florida Democratic Party issued a statement later that week to announce its endorsement of Gongora.

“The Florida GOP has been waging war on democratic values, free speech, and human rights for years — and now they have their sights set on Miami Beach,” said FDP Chair Nikki Fried.

“Michael Gongora is the only Democrat in the race, and the only candidate who will use his platform to fight for our core values," she said. "He’s the right choice to lead Miami Beach, and he’ll have the full support of the Florida Democratic Party as he sprints to the finish line.”

Joshua Ceballos is WLRN's Local Government Accountability Reporter and a member of the investigations team. Reach Joshua Ceballos at jceballos@wlrnnews.org
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