Coral Gables voters elect one new commissioner, send two to April 25 runoff

Coral Gables hosted municipal elections yesterday, April 11. 

Six candidates were running for two commission seats. Vince Lago, the mayor, secured reelection in late February.

Ariel Fernandez won the commissioner seat for Group V with 58 percent of the vote, defeating Alex Bucelo. Fernandez will replace incumbent Mike Mena, who did not seek reelection. 

“I am humbled by the responsibility placed upon me by our residents,” said Fernandez in a statement Tuesday night.

In the Group IV race, candidates Ivette Arango O’Doski and Melissa Castro finished first and second but neither secured over 50 percent of the vote, which is required to win the election. They will face each in a runoff election on April 25. Arango O’Doski captured 47 percent of the vote and Castro received 39 percent. 

Candidates Sean McGrover and Jackson “Rip” Holmes finished third and fourth, respectively, with just under 7 percent each. 

Some of O’Doski’s goals include protecting Coral Gables’ environment and investing in public safety. Castro considers herself a scientific-driven professional and some of her values focus on supporting the police, firefighter and first responders, as well as avoiding raising property taxes. 

Of the city’s 33,002 registered voters, just under 21 percent turned out on a rainy election day or through early voting. In Coral Gables’ last commission election, in 2019, almost 26 percent of voters went to the polls.

Sofia Colignon is a senior at Florida International University double majoring in English in the Writing and Rhetoric track and Digital Communication and Media in the Digital Journalism track. After completing her studies next summer term, she wishes to pursue a career within the entertainment field.