Familiar faces in Coral Gables mayoral election

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The residents of Coral Gables will cast their votes for the city’s next mayor and commissioners of the city April 11.

Read More: Guide to the Coral Gables election

While many residents are running for city commission seats, the nonpartisan mayoral race is shaping up to be one filled with familiar faces.

Former commissioner Jeannett Slesnick is running for mayor, and former Coral Gables mayor Raúl Valdés-Fauli is running as her opponent.

While Valdés-Fauli was the Coral Gables mayor from 1993 to 2001, he has been out of local politics for years and focused on his career as an attorney.

“I did a lot of things for Coral Gables when I was mayor, and Jim Cason, the mayor now, has done a good job, and I want it to continue that way,” said Valdés-Fauli in a phone interview.

Slesnick is a Coral Gables realtor and wife of former Coral Gables mayor Don Slesnick. She plans to climb the ladder of local government as she leaves her position as city commissioner and runs for mayor.

“For the last two years, being on the commission allowed me to talk to citizens and hear their ideas and opinions,” said Slesnick in a phone interview. “Now, because our current mayor is retiring, I thought it was the perfect time and opportunity for me.”

While the two candidates both have a history of working for the city, they differ in their plans for the future of Coral Gables.

Slesnick wants to keep the status quo with her platform that encourages small development, improving traffic and supporting the police force.

“I aim to put more police patrols in our neighborhood, support development that adheres to our zoning codes and to find ways to combat our traffic problems,” said Slesnick.

Valdés-Fauli is running on a bigger picture platform, focusing on improving the city in the long run, with expansion and growth as a top priority. He plans to improve the community through improving traffic, supporting the police force and developing ways to combat climate change and rising tides.

“I want the city to develop in a very forward-thinking, forward-looking platform that will bring the city up to what it should be by attracting younger people and dealing with global warming,” says Valdés-Fauli.

In regard to the largest employer in Coral Gables, the University of Miami, both candidates have similar viewpoints. Each candidate hopes to improve the campus by allowing new development and increase students’ quality of life by focusing on keeping campus safe with excellent security.

Slesnick and Valdés-Fauli even spent the afternoon on campus on different days to talk to students and get to know the campus better.

“If elected, either candidate has the power to determine the future of our campus,” said Monica Bustinza, president of Get Out The Vote, the organization that brought both mayoral candidates to campus. “Therefore, we want our students to get involved in all levels of government.” 

Voting locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 11. Check your voting location here.