Miami Beach residents vote for a new mayor (includes video story)

Voters in Miami Beach head to the polls today to choose a new mayor and three new commissioners.

The race to succeed current Miami Beach mayor Dan Gelber, who after six years in office has to step down due to term restrictions, has been defined by two main issues: public safety and overdevelopment.

The four candidates for mayor are former city commissioner Michael Gongora, former state representative Mike Grieco, former MTV chairman Bill Roedy, and current city commissioner Steve Meiner. They have been running close campaigns centered on the issues of crime, homelessness, and the threat of new high-rise developments.

One of the central issues in the race is an ordinance approved in October that will allow police officers to arrest homeless people found sleeping outdoors if they refuse to go to a shelter.  

“I was one of the original proponents of the law,” said Meiner in an interview with Caplin News. “We are basically saying to individuals (…) we have services, we have shelter, will you accept that, and if they say no, they could be arrested, it’s to the officer’s discretion.” 

Critics have called this policy “counterproductive” to solving the issue of homelessness in the city.

Mike Grieco, another headline in the race for mayor, has also been caught in controversy, after he left a handgun unattended inside a bag at the South Pointe Park dog park, according to a police report.

The candidate, who denied comment to Caplin News, has publicly apologized for the incident “shouldn’t have happened,” Grieco said to the Miami Herald.

Samuel Larreal is a Venezuelan journalism student with a concentration in political science and international relations. He is interested in reporting on human rights, immigration and civic freedom.