There is a crowded field of six contenders for Coral Gables Commissioner Group II: Rhonda Anne Anderson, Tania Cruz-Gimenez, Alexander Luis Haq, Mayra Joli, Claudia Miro, and Jose Valdes-Fauli. Valdes-Fauli is the elephant in the room. He’s raised more money than any other candidate and he shares a last name with his brother, the outgoing Coral Gables Mayor, Raul Valdes-Fauli.
If this were a dynasty, then Jose would be the natural — and only— choice. Pedigrees in local politics don’t always matter. The Diaz-Balarts have had a lot of successes and the de la Portilla family has had mostly electoral ups rather than downs. County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro couldn’t slot his wife into his seat when he resigned to run for Congress. And don’t get us started on the Hardemons. The question isn’t whether Jose is the best Valdes-Fauli for the job. It’s whether he’s the best person.
There are some no-goes among the other candidates. Claudio Miro has neither raised nor spent a single dollar in race. This is probably the first and last time you’ll hear his name.
Rhonda Anderson running for City Coral Gables Commission is an attorney that has practiced for 33 years in a wide range of areas in federal and state courts, including disability access, victims’ rights, business contracts and litigation, income tax, excise tax, money laundering, forfeiture, customs and bank secrecy act violations, city/municipal appeals, and state and federal regulatory compliance. Rhonda has practiced in Florida courts and the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court of International Trade and numerous Federal Courts. (This paragraph has been updated, 3/30/2021)
Mayra Joli is an immigration lawyer whose candidate statement claims that she is “one of South Florida’s most intriguing attorneys.” Joli also claims to be a “seasoned pundit and a philanthropist.” Joli previously ran for the 27th Congressional District in 2018, receiving just 2.5% of the vote behind Donna Shalala and Maria Elena Salazar.
Claudia Miro once worked for Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff. She’s the President of the Miami Republican Women’s Club Federated and currently works as marketing specialist for Miami-Dade County Libraries.
Tania Cruz-Gimenez is the wife of prominent lobbyist C.J. Gimenez and the daughter in law of former Miami-Dade Mayor and now Congressman Carlos Gimenez. If she were just running to fulfil a family legacy, she wouldn’t have earned a second look from us. She insists that she’s running on her own ideals. And it may be true.
The most surprising thing is that she comes from a family of prominent Republicans, but she’s still a registered Democrat. And not just a Democrat in name only. She decamped to Georgia to work on the U.S. Senate races that both went blue and turned control of the Senate over to the D’s. Cruz-Gimenez is an attorney, is a 14-year Gables resident, a political consultant, and is the mother of two children.
She says that she wants to see the City Beautiful pull through the double punch of the pandemic and the botched $25 million makeover of Miracle Mile. Small businesses and restaurants on the Mile, hard hit by the closings caused by COVID-19, have struggled to also stay in business as the main commercial artery in the City has been clamped shut. She’s also critical of the lack of transparency in the Coral Gables government headed by the brother of her main opponent.
Sure, Cruz-Gimenez belongs to a political dynasty, just like Jose Valdes-Fauli, except that he’s wedded to brother’s legacy and she’s ready to take Coral Gables in a new direction.
The Coral Gables New proudly endorses Tania Cruz-Gimenez.