Miami and Miami Beach residents go to the polls on Tuesday to cast their votes in the runoff elections.
Over in Miami Beach, Steven Meiner and Michael Gongora are neck-and-neck in the mayoral runoff after being the top two vote-getters.
The winner of the runoff will replace Dan Gelber, who has held the office since 2017 but was prevented from running again due to term limits.
Meiner, an attorney, left his post as Miami Beach’s Group 4 commissioner to run for mayor.
Gongora, also an attorney, served as Miami Beach commissioner three times, from 2006 to 2007, from 2009 to 2013 and from 2017 to 2021.
In a report released over the weekend, Meiner was accused by three anonymous women of making unwanted advances toward them since the early 2000s, when he was still an attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission. However, he has since denied the allegations.
“I am not supported by the wealthy special interests. Now that their influence is threatened, they are desperate to spread lies,” Meiner said in a statement.
Gongora responded to the news of his opponent’s allegations, emphasizing that this kind of attention comes with being in the public eye.
“Unfortunately, when we run for public office, our personal lives are fair game for inquiries, so I wish him and his wife well,” he said.
Over in the Miami District 1 runoff election, suspended commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla, who is looking to win back his seat, faces Miguel Angel Gabela.
This is a rematch of the 2019 race, but this year is taking place against a backdrop of scandal and litigation after Diaz de la Portilla was arrested in September after being accused of stealing $245,000 in exchange for authorizing the construction of a sports facility to have accepted. He has pleaded not guilty.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis later suspended Diaz de la Portilla, a fellow Republican, after the commissioner’s arrest.
Diaz de la Portilla reportedly sued his challenger on Monday, alleging that Gabela lives in a home outside District 1 and does not meet the city’s requirements to be eligible to run.
However, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals issued an opinion Monday that upends the city’s interpretation of its own charter by redefining how long someone must live in a district before applying to run for office the city commission can qualify.
According to Díaz de la Portilla’s lawsuit, filed Monday in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court, she accuses Gabela of living in a single-family home just outside the District 1 border, but Gabela denied the allegations.
And the District 2 runoff was also met with a delayed campaign smear, as current incumbent Sabina Covo faces political newcomer Damian Pardo.
Covo won the seat in a special election in February, with 13 candidates vying for it after Ken Russell resigned his seat to run for Congress.
Covo’s opponents accuse her of offering a former political rival a well-paying job in the city if he publicly supported her, but she has denied the allegations.
The runoff election will take place on Tuesday, with polling stations opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 7 p.m