A Miami Beach community activist and PTA mom has filed to run against Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola in this year’s November election.
Monica Matteo-Salinas, chair of the board of the Miami Beach Community Development Corporation, filed paperwork on Friday to run for the Group V seat, which is currently occupied by Arriola, who is only in his first term. So let’s not mince words: This is a challenge.
Bold move for a political newcomer.
“Am I excited? Yes. Am I scared? Gulp, yes,” Matteo-Salinas wrote on her Facebook wall. “But it has always been my DREAM to run for office. Win or lose, this is who I am. From PTA mom to community activist, I have a big mouth – and an even bigger brain. And I’m not afraid to use them!
“My journey starts today. Stay tuned!”
But Matteo-Salinas is not entirely new to the political scene. She has served as Florida Director of the Campus Election Engagement Project, a non partisan effort to increase the student vote in federal, state and local elections, for the last two years. Simultaneously, she was campus coordinator at Miami-Dade College for the Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy and Vice President of Advocacy for the PTA at her sons’ school.
She also spent three years as a development manager at Catalyst Miami, a non profit that helps other non profits on the ground with community building initiatives and that was founded by Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine-Cava. She is an advocate for human rights, quality education & affordable housing.
Expect her to get a lot of Democratic Party support.
Also expect years of mismanagement at the Miami Beach Community Development Corp. — which received millions in city grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Develoment to become a campaign issue. There have been maintenance issues at public housing units, a six-figure deficit in the budget and friction with Miami-Dade County, which has taken over at least two properties. An audit of finances in 2013 found evidence that funds were misspent on ineligible expenses. The executive director resigned, two city officials quit and a third was fired.
But Matteo-Salinas, who inherited many of those problems when she joined the board in 2015, has taken steps to rectify the issues. But she may come under fire for efforts to turn the Capri Apartments into market-rate housing, which happened after she came on board.
She has to be better, though, than the hand-picked lackey that former Mayor Philip Levine put up there to vote for his items. Arriola — who went to Cuba as a tourist and wanted to bring a Cuban consulate back to Miami Beach — has since aligned himself with Mayor Dan Gelber.
Just a couple of weeks ago, he voted to make another lackey, former Commissioner Joy Malakoff, a commissioner again, to serve out the remainder of the term vacated by Kristen Rosen-Gonzalez.
Ladra would not be surprised if he simply backs down and doesn’t run for re-election.