Coral Gables mayoral race takes a nasty, ethnic turn

Coral Gables mayoral race takes a nasty, ethnic turn
  • Sumo

The Coral Gables mayoral race this year already had an epic, Count of Monte rauljeannett2Cristo vibe — what with the freshman, lone anti-development commissioner on the dais going up against a former mayor that was booted out 15 years ago for over-development, among other things, by said lone commissioner’s husband.

But now, it seems that former Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli has pulled the ethnic card, starting a whisper campaign that Commissioner Jeannett Slesnick is anti-Hispanic.

El pobre. His Cuban card is all he’s got going for him.

Read related story: Coral Gables mayoral race: Slesnick vs Valdes-Fauli, Vol. 2

“A lot of people say that its become an ethnic campaign because of the slate,” said Jorge de Cardenas, Valdes-Fauli’s campaign manager, who also ran the campaigns for Mayor Jim Cason. He is referring to the Riviera Neighborhood Association of homeowners who are royally pissed off at the Paseo project approval, and who apparently sought out two candidates for the commission positions. The group has morphed into a grassroots political group called Gables Neighbors United, which has endorsed Slesnick for mayor and longtime activist Marlin Ebbert and former Commissioner Wayne “Chip” Withers. They think they’ve got a cute little acronym for people to remember: SEW. Like, let’s SEW this up.

“Some of these people are going around saying ‘The Cubans are going to take over,'” de Cardenas said. “I guess we’re in Miami. That happens.”

Yes, we’re in Miami. So, sometimes, it’s just expedient to say it happens. This sounds like a campaign strategy to Ladra because (1) why would Slesnick be responsible for what some racist on South Alhambra (and they’re everywhere) has to say and (2) Guess what? The Hispanics have infiltrated the Riviera neighborhood already (they’re everywhere, too), so it would be sorta silly to say something like that — and/or dangerous.

witherskeonAnd it’s not like there were a ton of Hispanic choices. Withers is running against another white anglo, Commissioner Pat Keon — pictured to the right in the most blonde on white, ethnic card-free race, lucky them — and while Ebbert is running in an open seat with two Hispanics, only one of them is actually viable (more on that later).

And why are we talking about this anyway? In 2017? Really? The only reason must be that it’s part of the RVF campaign narrative.

Valdes-Fauli did not return a call to his phone. But Slesnick told Ladra that she was going to stick to the issues. “I don’t know how to combat something like this. What do you do? What do you say?”

Maybe she’s right. What can you say? “I am not a racist.” Didn’t work for Richard Nixon with crook. Maybe she doesn’t need to say anything. Valdes-Fauli’s polls must show that he is trailing, with the election two weeks away on April 11th. People are already voting absentee. Time to panic. Which goes a long way to explain the Valdes-Fauli mailer where the successful residential real estate agent is tagged “Speedy Slesnick” and photo-shopped in a red race car. This is because she would rather hire more police officers to enforce the 30 MPH in residential neighborhoods than go down five MPH and still have nobody there when people blow by the required twice as many roadway signs speedyslesnickgoing 50 MPH. The mailer — paid for by one of two Valdes-Fauli PACs — is so bad, it’s good. Someone, please, please save one for Ladra’s collection.

Let’s take a moment here to remind folks that this is likely Valdes-Fauli’s last chance to get back into the office he was tossed from in 2001 by Don Slesnick in a sea change election — two new commissioners were also elected — after he led the effort to close Biltmore Way to vehicular traffic and build a massive administrative annex next to historic City Hall. Ladra covered Coral Gables for the Miami Herald back then, and it seemed to me that he envisioned the building would eventually bear his name.

Valdes-Fauli has been kind of absent since that defeat, coming out of his self-imposed sore loser exile 14 years later, only to endorse Mayor Jim Cason two years ago. In hindsight, Ladra wonders if that was tit for tat since Cason, who immediately rewarded him with an appointment to the charter review committee — a classic step in making the man relevant again — has endorsed him back.

Read related story: Jim Cason runs again ’cause nobody else will

Why does Valdes-Fauli want to be mayor again now — a whole 16 years later? Might it have something to do with all the development that wants to apparently keep coming now in North Gables and along South Dixie Highway? Might he resurrect the City Hall annex idea?

Does anyone else get the impression that someone brought Valdes-Fauli out of retirement and it wasn’t really his own idea to run? Like whoever runs the empty suit that is Cason is going to run him, too?

And since he lost against a Slesnick once before, and he’s desperate, and it’s late, he has gone on the offensive. Ladra hopes Hispanic voters in the Gables see through this pandering and reject it. And I can’t help but wonder if the Cubans in North Gables with his yard signs — the same ones who supported Slesnick in 2015, then were told she was anti Hispanic — know that Valdes-Fauli went to the island and can’t stop talking about what a marvelous trip it was and praises the normalized relations with Cuba’s repressive regime. I bet nobody told them that.

But that’s not really important. The Cuba trip doesn’t make him a worse candidate. Ladra has been to Cuba several times and believes that family trips — not junkets disguised as “educational packages” — are beneficial to the parallel economy that makes the government increasingly irrelevant. It just makes him even more of a calculated sin verguenza for pulling the ethnic card.

Read related story: Jeannett Slesnick winning Gables mayoral money race

What makes Slesnick a better candidate is that she is honest in her campaign, which is mostly about her policy positions — not anybody’s ancestry — on transparency in government and over-development. Like she works super hard to sell single family homes — and everybody knows she is a workaholic — she has worked super hard in the last two years since she was elected, having multiple town hall meetings to gauge constituents’ needs and concerns and being extremely communicative. She is very accessible and is not afraid to go against the administration or the majority on the dais if paseo1its what the residents want. Slesnick truly understands that her job is about serving the people and representing their best interests and their hopes and dreams.

And that’s why she has voted four times, at least, against these big, massive developments that have a lot of people in Coral Gables on edge. She was the only no vote, in fact, on the Paseo de la Riviera project on U.S. 1 (rendition to the left), The Plaza on Ponce de Leon — which was Old Spanish Village and then became the Agave project and then Mediterranean Village before it was reborn with one word like Prince or Madonna — and 33 Alhambra. I believe the 16-story Gables Station by Grand Avenue may have been a 3-2 vote.

Funny enough, Valdes-Fauli is trying to get people to believe that she voted for one of those projects, when she simply voted for increased setbacks and lower density after the projects had already been approved. Any suggestion otherwise is disengenuous and further evidence of desperation.

That’s like trying to get them to believe that this house seller, who is an abuela to Hispanic grandchildren, is anti-Hispanic.

16 Responses to "Coral Gables mayoral race takes a nasty, ethnic turn"

  1. Victor   March 28, 2017 at 2:31 am

    I really enjoy your coverage… Thank you for keeping us posted…

  2. Delio Diaz   March 28, 2017 at 9:35 am

    I fully endorse Jeannett – She is a person of character and morals.She’s the best person for the job. — Decent, hard working, and always willing to lend a hand.

  3. M Steffens   March 28, 2017 at 10:15 am

    I was wondering when Valdes-Fauli was going to get nasty. I thought he would manage to be civil during the election campaign and save it for the way he ran all his former commission meetings.

  4. Eugenia Lopez   March 28, 2017 at 11:35 am

    Valdes-fauli does NOT have my vote. He is a disgrace to the CubanAmerican community and a Castro apologist. BOTH Valdes Fauli & Slesnick are Democrats but I rather vote for Jeanett because she hasn’t pulled cheap tricks and stands for keeping the Gables’ small town feel!

    • Jose   April 11, 2017 at 6:20 pm

      Lol there is no such thing in the banana republic as ”Dem ” or ”Rep” that is the biggest joke going.

      Insane property taxes, zero political/police accountability and things just done poorly defines Miami .

      Please don’t get fooled by a silly letter in front of a name .

  5. Michael Gorsetman   March 28, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Valdez-Fauli is certainly up to something with 14 years of irrelevance. The answer being massive construction known more as DEVELOPMENT!!!

  6. B. Smith   March 28, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    This is some of the worst reporting I have ever read. Under the first Slesnick the city pension debt went up by hundreds of millions. Slesnick left the city finances in the garbage when he left office. That is a proven fact that even Jeanette doesn’t deny. Instead she looks down at her papers and talks about her newsletter, which is her purported reason for running for mayor?!? Just because someone works “super hard” as a realtor doesn’t mean they have the policy, financial or legal background required to manage a city, a budget, or advocate on behalf of residents and employees. Valdez got the city a AAA bond rating and at least is listening to what residents want and only wants the city to improve within its zoning laws. And if you want a copy of the racist and anti-Hispanic email Jeanette’s neighbor and colleague sent just look at the internet or social media. It’s everywhere. Facts are facts. Stick with them.

    • Henry Pinera   April 5, 2017 at 11:46 pm

      B. Smith.

      My point in the email that you mentioned is that ethnicity should not play a factor in the election and that if anything Hispanics should vote for someone who is willing to defend the neighbor property rights given that many of us came to the United States because our own property rights were denied.

      How does that make me a racist?

      WRT to your economic analysis I would point out 2 things: RVF left office before sept 11. He also did not preside over the great recession. Context matters. I highly doubt that RVF would have achieved the same results in that situation.

      It is easy to make a simplistic analysis of something and attribute a causal relationship when the reality is that there is very little dependence between the 2.

  7. TellingItLikeItIs   March 29, 2017 at 1:05 am

    This Hispanic household will be happily voting for Slesnick. I don’t want to prevent RVF from enjoying long lunches with his fellow Cuban apologists, Mike Fernandez, the Arriola clan, et al.

  8. Jackson Rip Holmes   March 29, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Thank you for keeping us informed.


    Jackson Rip Holmes

  9. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz   March 30, 2017 at 12:06 am

    Remember the low rent lobbyists who sold the fake SAVE MIAMI BEACH crew to the Beach then let THEIR clients trash the Beach!

  10. Daryl A   March 30, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Valdes-Fauli is another crook looking to get a payoff from development like the current mayor of the Gables is getting.

  11. Raul Mas Canosa   April 1, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    I have known Jeannett Slesnick and her husband Don for decades. They are among the most decent people I have ever met. Never have I heard them utter–or even insinuate– disrespect to anyone. Don’t believe the lies now being propagated by people who should know better…but apparently (and sadly) have decided to descend into the gutter.

    Jeannett has been actively involved in making our community better long before she sought political office. It is part of her DNA. What you see is what you get with Jeannett: honesty, integrity, hard work, and a laser-like focus on doing what is best for the residents of Coral Gables. There is nothing fake or contrived about her. She is in nobody’s pocket.

    On April 11th I will be voting for her, the best candidate to lead our city. Period.

  12. Pingback: In Coral Gables election, only a sweep will change the course | Political Cortadito

  13. Jose   April 11, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    ”El pobre. His Cuban card is all he’s got going for him.”

    Sadly it STILL works .MOST Miami Cubanos are ethnic voting separatist and will vote for any crook as long as they are Cuban and I say this being Cuban.

    Yet at least we vote in real numbers unlike the other Hispanic ”tribes” and we don’t just vote once every 4 years while ignoring every other election like the other ”tribes” , if most even do that .

    So I ”rather” be a self defeating voter then an ignorant , politically apathetic non voter .

    Sad choices indeed but that is all that can be expected from Hispanics .

    La verdad es that when the Anglo left the Banana republic which is what ALL Hispanic ”tribes” recreate took hold .

    Jose born in Cuba

  14. Jose   April 12, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    Lol he won . The standard Cuban method of divide and conquer that these self serving ,exile politicos use still works .

    Get ready for serious development as he lines his pocket but then again what Cuban Mayor doesn’t as they pour cement on every blade of grass and the calle oho junta wouldn’t have it any other way.

    ”Don’t blame those who vote, blame those who don’t ”


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