Cutler Bay will conduct its second mayoral election on Nov. 2. The current mayor, Paul Vrooman, announced earlier this year he would not seek election leaving the field open to three candidates. Vice Mayor Ed MacDougall and Councilman Tim Meerbott are joined in the race by landscaper Kevin Woitke.
Two of the candidates, MacDougall and Meerbott, share several experiences in common. They both have served on the Cutler Bay Council for four years; have lived in Cutler Ridge for more than 40 years, and spent time coaching and volunteering for the Perrine Baseball and Softball League. But that’s where the comparison ends.
We believe that MacDougall’s experience and commitment to serve Cutler Bay and his work on the council represent the best interests of the town. A retired Miami-Dade Police officer, he understands the needs of the department to combat crime and also the value of community policing.
A self-made businessman who, in 1981, founded and acts as CEO of Choice One Networks, MacDougall built his mortgage, insurance, title and real estate business in Cutler Bay. The employer of 25 local residents, MacDougall understands the crisis facing small business in tough economic times. He has been active in the South Dade Economic Advisory Council for years.
As a council member MacDougall fought for the rights of a South Dade vendor to keep her business open in the courthouse area. He also opposed requiring security cameras in shopping center parking lots because of the costs that would be passed on to small business. He preferred a deferral until the economy improves. Now semi-retired, MacDougall intends to be a full-time mayor.
Three generations of MacDougalls have attended local public schools. We recognize his efforts to provide flashing safety lights and mentoring programs at all local schools. We encourage his quest to bring a senior high school to Cutler Bay. MacDougall kick-started the town’s Charter School Committee and works to find a suitable location for a charter high school.
His experiences during the incorporation effort caught our attention early. MacDougall served as vice chair of the Cutler Ridge Municipal Advisory Committee whose job it was to determine the feasibility of a town; if the anticipated revenues would be sufficient to support municipal services.
Later he was appointed by Miami- Dade Commissioner Katy Sorenson to the Cutler Bay Charter Committee, which he chaired. In developing the charter for the town, MacDougall insisted on including a first of its kind provision requiring the town to use technology to make information from the town available to all online.
We encourage his fight to make open government available through transparency. Meerbott joined three other council members, for a second time, to defeat a measure to place the town’s checkbook online. We believe that the public has a right to learn how their tax dollars are being spent.
The Cutler Bay News recognizes that MacDougall listened to the concerns of the town’s residents. He was the only council member to vote against a tax increase last year. He worked to provide senior citizens a circulator bus to take them from senior housing units to local businesses. He has pushed for the feasibility study to connect the town’s parks through bike paths and walkways.
We appreciate MacDougall’s efforts to preserve the historical nature of Old Cutler Road as a member of the citizen’s charrette years ago and the fight to prevent four-story buildings along the route.
Meerbott should be encouraged to become more involved in the community and seek public office again.
After considering all of the experience and longtime commitment to his community, the Cutler Bay News endorses Ed MacDougall for mayor of Cutler Bay.