From the days when scribes of antiquity recorded the teachings of sages in Greece, the spoken word and lessons from language have had the potential power to move civilizations forward or backward. South Miami News takes its responsibility to inform the public of what is happening with their elected leadership and tax dollar allocations very seriously. It does not always make us popular with local government or big business. The greater mission, however, of keeping the people informed and demanding accountability and transparency in public service supersedes whether or not we get an invitation to the ball. South Miami News had the opportunity to interview all of the candidates and incumbents running for office this February with the exception of Bob Welsh who respectfully declined. The following endorsements are from the South Miami News Editorial Board for city elections February 14, 2012.
Julio Robaina, Jr for Mayor VOTE 60
Although Philip Stoddard is a nice man and makes a perfect “town dad” as he has referred to himself in interviews with Community Newspapers, we believe Julio Robaina has demonstrated the level-headed strong leadership required to move South Miami forward. If the mayoral position was a figurehead role, our vote would be for Stoddard as he excels in cutting ribbons, posing for photographs and waving during parades, but the city is at a crossroads and demanding more. Former Mayor Robaina’s track record of receiving the All America City Award while in office and bringing from Tallahassee a revenue river of funding for local initiatives is enough. But there is more. Robaina’s captivating personality is palpable. A dynamic leader, who won the hearts of his constituents years ago as demonstrated by the groundswell of support he is enjoying, is the kind of Captain South Miami now needs. It is not only the weary business sector that appears thrilled about another run with Robaina, but the residents exhausted over constant bickering at city hall. A termed out state representative from Tallahassee, Robaina has learned how to deftly handle those who may not agree with him yet still maintain an authoritative role. Robaina has also promised residents no more five minute maximum during public remarks at city commission meetings. The African American community remembers the friend they had in Robaina and for that established loyalty and Robaina’s ability to draw people from diverse backgrounds but with a common goal together, we believe Robaina is the obvious choice for mayor.
Josh Liebman for Group 2 VOTE 62
This is easy. Josh Liebman is a hometown boy who done good. Not only is he a well-educated businessman (MBA from UF) but Liebman has been an active part of the community for years before he was even old enough to vote. An accomplished entrepreneur at a young age, Liebman is also full of exciting new ideas like building a privately funded running track, having commissioners serve on area business chambers, creatively getting out the vote, and bringing in a new dimension of the Arts to South Miami. Articulate and unafraid to call “foul,” we believe Liebman can silence the noisy gossip and innuendo that toxifies the air in commission chambers. Liebman offers fresh leadership from a focused mind with clear ideals that can steer his way through tough decision making. Liebman has proved his genuine spirit of service as demonstrated by the thousands of runners he has inspired over the years as a volunteer “pace leader” and accomplished marathoner. Although we appreciate Sally Philips’ fervor for South Miami, we cannot tell what she stands for or what kind of leader she might be. When answers to questions from the public in the election forum generated recurring responses of “I will look into it and decide,” “must do research,” and “don’t have all the answers,” that is not leadership. Philips concluded her remarks by waiving all of her tepid posturing and in essence saying she might change her mind on everything she just said at any time. We encourage Dr. Philips to enjoy her retirement.
Armando Oliveros, Jr for Group 3 VOTE 65
“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” For having the courage to step forward and bear the possible slings and arrows of condescending voices disparaging this candidate who came back bravely after a major fall from grace, Oliveros has our vote. However the beauty of his potential service is that our very own prodigal son, Oliveros, is also exceedingly well qualified. At the first election forum, former vice mayor Oliveros wowed the crowd with his honesty, confidence in sharing perhaps unpopular opinions founded in logic, and a spot on sense of humor. Oliveros explained at the forum his position on addressing community “needs before wants.” Oliveros also said he will arrive at the dais believing he is right and it is the challenge of those presenting an alternate point of view to prove there is a better way. This is the kind of confidence and leadership in office that keeps communities moving forward. Former vice mayor Oliveros brings with him a historical local perspective over 30 years in the making, relevant invaluable experience, and fearless candor, so we believe he is the man for the job. Gabriel Edmond comes in second as a teacher and former congressional aide who appears to have good qualifications to serve in the future. Edmond seems to have innovative suggestions for pressing challenges and a courteous disposition. However all roads do not lead to a municipal bank for South Miami. We need applicable answers today for urgent challenges and not a panacea proposition in an outside untested institution