Residents head to polls to cast votes on Miami, Miami Beach runoff elections – NBC 6 South Florida


Residents of Miami and Miami Beach are heading to the polls Tuesday to cast their votes in the runoff elections.

Over in Miami Beach, Steven Meiner and Michael Gongora are going head-to-head in the mayoral runoff, after they were the top two vote getters.

The winner of the runoff will replace Dan Gelber, who’s held the position since 2017 but was prevented from running again by term limits.

Meiner, an attorney, gave up his spot as Miami Beach’s Group 4 commissioner to run for mayor.

Gongora, also an attorney, has served three terms as a Miami Beach commissioner, from 2006-2007, 2009-2013, and 2017-2021.

In a published report over the weekend, Meiner was accused by three anonymous women, of making unwanted advances toward them starting in early 2000’s, while he was an attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but he has since denied the allegations.

“I am not supported by the deep-pocketed special interests. Now, seeing their influence threatened, they are desperate to spread lies,” Meiner said in a statement.

Gongora responded to the news of his opponents allegations and stressed that this kind of attention comes with being in the public eye.

“Unfortunately, when we run for public office, our personal life becomes fair game for inquiries, so I wish him and his wife well,” he said.

Over in the Miami District 1 runoff elections, suspended Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla, who is trying to win back his seat, will face Miguel Angel Gabela.

This is a rematch of the 2019 race, but this year is set against a backdrop of scandal and legal battles after Diaz de la Portilla was arrested in September after he was accused of accepting $245,000 in exchange for voting to approve construction of a sports facility. He has pleaded not guilty.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis later suspended Diaz de la Portilla, who is a fellow Republican, after the commissioner’s arrest.

On Monday Diaz de la Portilla was reportedly suing his challenger, alleging that Gabela is living in a home outside District 1 and does not meet a city requirement to be eligible for the election.

Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal, however, issued an opinion Monday that upends the city’s interpretation of its own charter by redefining how long someone has to live in a district before they can qualify to run for the City Commission.

According to Díaz de la Portilla’s lawsuit, which was filed Monday in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court, accuses Gabela of living in a single-family home just outside the District 1 boundary, but Gabela denied the allegations.

And the District 2 runoff election has also been met with a late campaign smear as Sabina Covo, who currently holds the position, faces political newcomer Damian Pardo.

Covo won the seat in a special election in February, where 13 candidates vied for it after Ken Russell resigned from the seat to run for Congress.

Opponents of Covo are accusing her of offering a former political competitor a high paying city job if he publicly endorsed her, but she has denied the allegations.

The runoff election is Tuesday, with polls opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 7 p.m.

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