In Gables races, newby candidate Lago leads dash for cash
Gables Mayor Jim Cason waves from a firetruck at last weekend's Three Kings parade.
While Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason faces a real challenge from veteran City Commissioner Ralph Cabrera, the candidate making the biggest splash with cash in that April election is a new first-time runner vying for one of the two commissions seats.
Vicente “Vince” Lago, a “project executive” for BDI Construction (read: developer), is the only one of eight candidates who has broken the $100,000 mark.
A member of the Coral Gables Planning and Zoning Board, Lago — one of three candidates running to fill Cabrera’s seat – has reported more than $106,000, including $15,000 raised in the last three months.
That’s almost as much as the $110,000 collected by both mayoral candidates combined (in a near 2 to 1 race so far, with $71,000 reported raised by Cason and just under $40,000 reported by Cabrera (more on them later).
Among those contributors, which is fully stoked with lobbyists and PACs, are State Rep. Jose Oliva, who has two companies giving the max $500 gift, onetime State Rep. candidate Ralph Rosado ($150) and newly elected REC Chairman Nelson Diaz ($250).
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Ladra doesn’t know much about Lago, but his bosses — the Rosell family owners of BDI Construction — came up as donors for U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia’s failed 2008 campaign and the 2008 Congressional race by former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez against former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart. They also gave $3,000 to re-election bids by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez, Robert Toricelli (Democrats) and Paula Hawkins as well as Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (a Republican).
That's Ross Hancock second from right, next to Jeffrey "Doc" Solomon, during last year's campaign season. Also in the photo: Senators Gwen Margolis and Dwight Bullard and State Rep. Kionne McGhee.
On the flip side of Lago is Ross Hancock, a newspaper publisher from Homestead and Gables resident who just narrowly lost a bid for state house against Florida Rep. Erik Fresen. Hancock has loaned himself $5. He’s going to need more against Lago, who is almost a sure thing.
That group race has a third candidate, although you might not notice. Longtime community volunteer Marlin Ebbert has reported raising $7,100, to add to a loan she made to herself of $10,000.
The only one doing worse than Hancock is attorney P.J. Mitchell — but that is because he filed to run for the seat vacated by Commissioner Maria Anderson on Jan. 4, so his first campaign report is not due til March 8. He will be up against longtime activist Pat Keon, a member of the Planning and Zoning Board who has run before and lost (Political trivia: Keon’s campaign manager was once Commissioner Ralph Cabrera). Keon has raised nearly $60,000, according to her campaign report.
But half of that is her own money loaned to herself. Another $2,500 came in five $500 checks from companies connected to developer Armando Codina.
The third candidate in that group race is Mary Young, the director of the University of Miami School of Business Administration’s Ziff Graduate Career Services Center (which needs a shorter name) and a former chair of the Coral Gables Community Foundation. She has collected a respectable $45,650 so far and could be a surprise sleeper.
So far, between all of the, Gables candidates have netted a cool $335,000 in contributions. Of the eight candidates, one is responsible for nearly a third of that. That would be Mr. Lago. Ladra can’t wait to see what he reports on his next campaign report. There will be a few more disclosed before the April 9 election. Aren’t we lucky?