Ernie Sochin is the new vice mayor of the Town of Cutler Bay, at least until the next countywide general election.
He was selected to that position by fellow councilmembers on Monday, Dec. 6. Sochin previously served as the Seat 2 councilmember.
When Ed MacDougall won his race for the seat of mayor of Cutler Bay and newcomer Mary Ann Mixon won her race for Seat 1 on the Town Council, both without the need for a runoff, it seemed smooth sailing for the operation of the council, but there was still one empty seat to fill.
That post was the vice mayor’s seat, which MacDougall had filled prior to becoming mayor. A new vice mayor needed to be selected by the other council members to serve until the next election so that town business could be conducted. There were only four members on the council at that point and three votes were needed to appoint the new vice mayor.
“We went for two days on this before finally selecting Ernie Sochin as vice mayor,” Mayor MacDougall said. “At the Wednesday, Dec. 1, meeting there was a deadlock, with myself and Mr. Sochin voting for him, while Peggy Bell and Mary Ann Mixon voted for Tim Meerbott. We met again on Monday, Dec. 6, and after some heated discussion we took another vote and the council selected Ernie Sochin.”
Sochin, who still had two years left on his current term as Seat 2 councilmember, was somewhat reluctant to put himself up for the position, but said that he felt it was the right thing to do.
“Everyone’s been congratulating me and I’m wondering whether I should be getting congratulations or condolences,” Sochin said jokingly last week. “I ran for that job because I was reluctant to appoint someone to the vice mayor position who just lost an election.
“I didn’t think it was right to tell the people of the town that ‘even though you didn’t vote for this guy, we on the council are going to make him vice mayor,’ so I offered myself up rather than put him in.”
Sochin was referring to Tim Meerbott, who had made himself available for the position after losing his bid for the mayor’s seat in the Nov. 2 election, and is reportedly still facing a Miami-Dade Police Department investigation regarding campaign contributions from Pasteur Clinics and a charter school company. But for Sochin, being vice mayor is not without risk.
“The trouble with offering myself up is that I was termed out as councilman and had two years I could just sit back and relax, and now that I’m vice mayor, if there happens to be a county election, which could happen very soon if the recall of County Mayor Alvarez goes through and he has to run again, then I’ll have to run for office again.
“But the feeling of the council was that anyone in the vice mayor’s seat should be able and ready to take over as mayor, whether it’s a temporary thing or whether, God forbid, it’s like what happened with John Cosgrove. I have to think about what’s best for the town, not for me, and if I have to put myself at risk for the town, well, that’s what I volunteered to do when I first got elected,” Sochin said.
Now that the vice mayor position is filled, however, there is a vacancy in the Seat 2 post left by Sochin. Several people have submitted their resumes and the council is expected to select one of them for appointment on an interim basis on Tuesday, Dec.14.