It doesn’t have to be November to be election season.
Polling precincts for municipal elections in Coral Gables open Tuesday, when residents may vote for mayor and commissioners. Among the options found on the ballot for mayor are incumbent Don Slesnick, 67, Tom Korge, 61 and Jim Cason, 66, all of whom are running for a two-year mayor term.
Slesnick, who has been mayor of Coral Gables since 2001, also works as a labor lawyer. Korge, who works as a business attorney, is the candidate endorsed by The Miami Herald; he has served eight years on the city’s Planning and Zoning Board and has been chairman for the past seven. Cason is a retired career diplomat and is the former head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.
This year’s municipal elections revolve around two dominant issues: the economic struggles that the city is currently facing and the $4 million the historical Biltmore Hotel owes the city in lease payments.
Slesnick, who is seeking to be reelected for a fifth and final term, said in an interview with The Miami Herald that he was almost determined to not seek reelection after “10 challenging years of public service.”
Despite this initial decision to not run for office, Slesnick is seeking a fifth term.
“I am proud of what we’ve done in the last 10 years,” Slesnick said. “I hesitated to pull the trigger to run again.”
Korge, who works as an adjunct law professor at the University of Miami, is adamant about changing the city’s current permitting process at the city’s building and zoning department. He believes he could be the leader the city needs.
“My platform would affect UM students to the same extent that it would affect everyone who works, plays or lives in Coral Gables,” Korge said. “The university and the city need each other to prosper. The city has entered into a long-term development agreement with the university that provides the university with much more flexibility to develop the campus responsibly and efficiently. As chairman of the city’s Planning and Zoning Board, I supported the agreement and helped to shepherd it through the committee.”
Cason, who has lived in Coral Gables since 2008, lived 38 years abroad.
“I could have chosen to live anywhere in the world, but decided years ago that I wanted to retire and live the rest of my life in Coral Gables,” Cason said in an interview with The Miami Herald.
Cason said he contacted the students at UM to rally support but students were not interested in participating.
“Some of the kids are registered elsewhere, and the most apathetic are the students,” Cason said. “A lot of these kids might end up living in Coral Gables, so that’s why they should want to get involved.”
Several students remain apathetic about elections, and municipal elections are no exception.
“I haven’t voted in local elections,” sophomore Cassandra Pino said. “Usually when there are elections, I find out after the elections are closed. If I do know, I don’t feel educated enough on the issues the parties plan to work on.”
Although students are generally indifferent toward elections, many believe municipal elections do make a difference.
“I think by going to the University of Miami you are not just part of the UM community, but you’re a part of the city of Coral Gables,” said Brandon Mitchell, the newly inaugurated Student Government president. “The mayor of Coral Gables has a tremendous impact on your life at the U; taking the time vote is critical.”
Stephanie Parra may be contacted at email@example.com.
If you vote
Where: Polling places for the University of Miami are St. Augustine Catholic Church at 1400 Miller Rd. and the BankUnited Center at 1245 Walsh Ave. If you live elsewhere, check your voting card for your local precinct or visit coralgables.com for more information.
When: Tuesday, 7 a.m.- 7 p.m.
– To vote, you must be a registered resident of Coral Gables one year prior to election date.
– For information on commissioners on the ballot, visit gableshomepage.com/town-square/elections.