District 2 Candidates meet Grove residents
The debate was soft though and many of the questions really did not relate to the Grove, they were too general and not specific to the audience that was present. Minimum wage hikes, housing for the poor, transit and traffic are all important subjects but they seem like more universal or global issues and not many of these problems can be solved by a local city commissioner. Getting people to avoid Coconut Grove streets as they make their way from the south end of the county to downtown during rush hour was talked about, which is really a non-issue because in the scheme of things, who cares?
For the audience present, the questions should have been more localized. Two friends who were present last night sent me their questions that they submitted ahead of time, which were not used at the forum, they were things like: Did you support the recent initiative to replace Scotty's Landing and the boatyard behind it with the Grove Bay development? and Do you support removing the locks and allowing the public to have total access to the basketball and soccer courts in Peacock Park?
And also these: By a show of hands… Who has voted in the last two City of Miami elections? How many Commission Meeting and P&Z Meeting have you attended in the past 4 years? Please list some of the issues that you chose to champion for our community (i.e. Home Depot, Rezoning of Mercy Hospital, Fire Fee Settlement, Marlin Stadium, no Bid Contract, etc.). Please list some of the committees, boards or organizations you have been actively involved with over the past 4 years that have benefited our community? Do you think a candidate should be elected because they are the most qualified, have worked for many years to benefit our community are able to raise the most amount of money to purchase the most amount of advertisement?
One odd question by a friend was: Do you support getting rid of the colorful information booths that sit on the Grove's downtown sidewalks? This question I don't understand. Is there a problem with the info booths?
I would have asked harder hitting questions about development and the rapid changes in the Grove, which is changing the flavor of the village. They did ask about zoning changes in the Center Grove to allow for high rises (over the current five story limit), but the answers were not specific. I would have asked Teresa Sarnoff - "If Terra Group and The Related Group requested zoning changes to allow for higher and denser development and the residents are against it, whose side would you take, knowing that the developers have funded most of your campaign?" That's what people would like to know. Also, I would have asked, "What could or would you do to help promote new business in the Center Grove. Rents are out of sight, how would you confront the landlords about this?"
"Condo developers should be required to build low income housing with each expensive condo that they are allowed to build," said Grace Solares. She went on to say that she will always be the same and people know here record, she cannot be bought.
Rosa is against zoning changes for the Center Grove, "I will not take money from developers, that is my promise to you. The moment you touch blood money, you are beholden the minute you take your seat," she said.
Lorry is a newcomer, she is only in Miami five years, she did not commit to the question of whether the Center Grove should be rezoned for high rises. She said that each neighborhood should decide its fate. The problem is, we never do decide our fate in Coconut Grove.
Ken said, "The Grove has a soul and a character that we don't want to lose."
Javier said that, "I am truly one of the non-politicians here." He says he will only be in office for four years, and will not seek re-election. "I'm not a political pro," he said, meaning he won't make a career of it.
Mr. Armbrister said this about Village West: "Every lot needs a homeowner - there are too many empty lots." He received a lot of applause for that.
Teresa had her fans in the audience; the usual Center Grove crew. She never addressed over-development and talked a lot about charitable work which she has done. People liked that.
Mike Simpson said the trick is to get people out to vote and he's right. That is the trick, especially with so many candidates.
Al Crespo has the whole event on video here.
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