Meet the candidates for City of South Miami Commissioner-Group I

Luis J. Gil, candidate for City Commission-Group I.

Luis J. Gil, candidate for City Commission-Group I.

Candidate Luis J. Gil

Luis J. Gill has been a resident of South Miami for more than a decade and an active member of the community. He believes he is uniquely qualified to be elected to the South Miami City Commission as he has served in numerous civic capacities over the years. Gil formerly served on the City Miami Manager Selection Committee, the South Miami Environmental & Review Board, and was a Budget & Finance Committee member.

Gill presently works at Baptist Health South Florida as an IT-Project Manager. He is an alumnus of Immaculata-LaSalle High School and a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a B.S. in Political Science.

What do you plan to do in your first 100 days?

The City of South Miami faces many challenges and opportunities. My biggest concerns lie in the public safety of its citizens and the financial security of the city.

This past summer, Hurricane Irma reminded us that we need our city to be better prepared in the future for such major storms. Specifically, I want to address our tree ordinances, to keep our trees clear of power lines while maintaining our beloved tree canopy. During the storm, our municipal staff and police did a great job supporting and protecting us – yet our power lines took a substantial hit and South Miami citizens were without power way too long.

City finances also need to be addressed. Our tax base in our business district needs to increase to maintain our current city services and to reduce the tax burden on homeowners. The revitalization of our downtown district is paramount. The redevelopment of the Shops of Sunset is eminent, and it is time to review it again with a fresh perspective. I will work with the developers to ensure responsible development that will bring South Miami more jobs.

Following are some other priorities I wish to address during my tenure, if elected to the City Commission:

Complete of the Madison Square Project;

Identify sources for the funding for infrastructure improvements for the CRA;

Build a pedestrian/bike-friendly bridge across US1 that will truly unite our residential and business districts, while leveraging our Metrorail Station and providing citizens with a safe alternative to cross US1 on foot.

Protect our single-family neighborhoods that border more intensive development, a practice currently allowed in our Land Development Code.

Explore building a new City Hall and Police Station while keeping City Hall and Sylva Martin building on the existing site.

Please visit for more on my campaign.

Donald Jackson, candidate for South Miami Commission-Group I.

Donald Jackson, candidate for South Miami Commission-Group I.

Candidate Donald D. Jackson

Donald D. Jackson is a graduate of Miles College, a candidate for a Master’s degree in Public Administration at UM, and a devoted volunteer in youth programs. A proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Jackson continues to serve as a role model for at-risk youth from disadvantaged families and is actively engaged in bringing about the necessary changes in his community that he desires to see through his service as a Board member of the South Miami Community Redevelopment Agency.

As a CRA Board Member, he is working to mitigate gentrification of a historically Black section of the city by supporting the development of affordable housing. He believes local communities need transformational leaders like himself to work with others to identify needed change and then to create a vision to guide that change through inspiration.

What do you plan to do in your first 100 days?

Every campaign is filled with promises of providing certain things to certain people in order to gain their support on election day – but a good amount of those promises too often go unfulfilled and ignored. I don’t plan on providing the people with empty promises of achieving the unachievable, rather, my goal is to deliver what the city so desperately needs; and that happens to be three things:

Affordable/workforce housing and updated city-wide infrastructure

Updated land & zoning codes

Park & Recreation program revitalization

For too long, residents have been forced to either relocate or pay high-end rents. Also, I do believe that it is time for new improvements to City Hall and our Public Library, being that the infrastructure of both buildings isn’t the best right now – but there’s a smart way to go about it, rather than sell the property and in turn rent it back from a developer.

The city’s current land and zoning codes need to be updated, especially within the transit oriented development district. With some changes, this could ease the city’s burden of lack of affordable/workforce housing as well as entice developers to do business and complete projects – rather than to file lawsuits.

Compared with neighboring cities, South Miami has a well-organized Parks & Recreation department. But the underlying issue isn’t with the upkeep of the parks, it’s more so with the programs being offered for our youth.

I remember a time when the city’s Park & Recreation department facilitated an elite sports program offering multiple sporting avenues to all residents citywide. Such programs that once bridged different communities of people within South Miami are now missing and desperately need to be reinstated to better serve and navigate our youth in more positive directions.

With the combined support and backing of the entire City Commission, the issues I have outlined here are attainable – if I am elected into office as one of your esteemed City Commissioners.

For more information, please visit

Velma Palmer, candidate for South Miami Commission-Group I.

Velma Palmer, candidate for South Miami Commission-Group I.

Candidate Dr. Velma Palmer

Velma Palmer, PhD served as a South Miami Commissioner and Vice Mayor from 2004 to 2012.  She ushered in numerous accomplishments for the residents, notably, her formation of a Housing Committee supporting the construction of affordable homes, a subsidized down payment for first time homebuyers, and voting to lower taxes.

Dr. Palmer is a retired educator, author, and Certified Life Coach. She holds a PhD in mathematics, a Master’s degree in Guidance Counseling, and a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education.

What do you plan to do in your first 100 days?

In my first 100 days as a Commissioner, I will meet with the Mayor and Commissioners to discuss the need to maintain civility and decorum as elected officials. We have a duty to adhere to the City Charter and to maintain a professional demeanor by following Robert’s Rules of Order.

I will encourage Ethics Training for all elected officials and volunteer city board members. 

The relationship with the City Manager is the key to a well-functioning government. He will be expected to provide information and to answer questions, as he is the administrator responsible for all city departments. My emphasis will always be on fiscal responsibility and the guardianship of taxpayer money.

In meeting with the City Manager, I will also schedule time to perform a walk-through of each department in order to assess the staff’s work environment and how it impacts their job performance.

I will meet with the City Clerk and City Attorney to emphasize that I expect them to be responsive to the residents’ communications and to follow the City Charter.

City parks are essential to our quality of life. As such, I plan to visit each park and get to know the staff in an effort to learn more about the needs of each facility.

Our Land Development Code is under revision. I will carefully review it and require a full disclosure regarding proposed changes.

Good government depends on the participation of our residents through volunteer boards and workshops. I will work to establish boards, increase oversight of existing boards, and to demand community workshops so that residents are part of the process in determining the city’s future.

I will represent the entire city and keep an open mind to all opinions. I will always be mindful that I was elected to serve and not to rule.

Please visit for more information.

Sandra DiMare-Vivar, candidate for City Commission-Group I.

Sandra DiMare-Vivar, candidate for City Commission-Group I.

Candidate Sandra DiMare-Vivar

For Sandra DiMare-Vivar and her family, the City of South Miami is home. As a small business owner alongside her husband Romel and as a mother, she states that she understands what is important to the citizens of the city and it is because of her family and her commitment to enhancing our quality of life in the community. And that is why she has decided to run for Commissioner of the City of South Miami.

What do you plan to do in your first 100 days?

My name is Sandra DiMare-Vivar and I am excited to be a candidate for the City of South Miami Commission. I have been knocking on doors and meeting so many South Miami residents. I am truly humbled by the feedback and support I’ve received. If fortunate to be elected City Commissioner, I will work tirelessly to enhance our quality of life and build a bright future for our city.

As Commissioner, I will focus my energies in several areas including public safety, development, traffic, and protection of green spaces.

Safeguarding our families and eliminating crime from our neighborhoods by working with our Police Department and community leaders to ensure that our residents feel safe in their homes. I will focus on expanding the Neighborhood Crime Watch program and ensuring that our police officers have the tools they need to fight crime.

I will protect our city against overdevelopment and ensure that any new construction fits within the character of our neighborhoods.

I will also find solutions to the growing problem of “cut-through” traffic on our residential streets. We simply cannot allow our neighborhoods to be utilized as thoroughfares for drivers looking for a shortcut. 

Enhancing our green spaces is also very important to me as they are part of the charm and beauty that is South Miami. If elected, I am committed to working with our administration to protect and enhance our parks. 

Finally, I will spend every day of my first 100 days and every day beyond that helping our administration become more efficient and more transparent for all of our citizens.  

For my family and me, there’s no place we rather live in that South Miami. My husband and I have worked very hard to be able to be part of this community and provide the quality of life for our children that South Miami offers. Ultimately, that is why I am running – to ensure a beautiful future for our beautiful South Miami.

Please visit for more on my campaign, or feel free to call 786-343-4832.

Gary Robinson for City Commission-Group I.

Gary Robinson for City Commission-Group I.

Candidate Gary Robinson

Gary Robinson is an energetic, results-focused sales executive with 25+ years of experience leading multiple teams to meet and exceed revenue and profit goals. A graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia with a Bachelor degree in Finance and Marketing, he presently serves on the City of South Miami Planning Board, Green Task Force, and Budget and Finance Board. Robinson plans to use the same skills that have made him successful in business to help advance South Miami while protecting its small-town quality of life. Gary lives in South Miami with his fiancée and their combined family of three children – and Harley the family pup.

What do you plan to do in your first 100 days?

As a City Commissioner, my first step will be to gain a deeper understanding of the issues facing our city, before setting out to take on the following:

I would look seriously into eliminating parking fees in our downtown. We are losing business because so many other commercial districts beyond our city limits offer free parking – consumers would rather park for free elsewhere than shop and dine in South Miami.

South Miami needs to hire a Public Information Officer to head up municipal communications. Simply draping a banner across Sunset Drive is not enough. The local newspaper doesn’t always carry city-sponsored events because no one at City Hall does media outreach. I also believe our CRA would be more effective if people were more aware of what it offers and how they could benefit from it.

Let’s get Madison Square done. I’ve personally spoken with many residents who say they want at least five stories – not just two. I want to “officially” find out what the people want – and then get it for them.

I want to help devise a plan that works for both the people of South Miami the people at Sunset Shops. While 18 stories is a bit much for South Miami, I do believe we can get them to work with us. I also think a pedestrian bridge to the Metro should be added in.

I would focus on jump starting several programs in the CRA – which we can do if we get the extra $1,200,000 a year in tax dollars from a rejuvenated Sunset Place. Financial assistance programs, senior care, and work-force training are on that list.

Our police have not had a raise in years. This definitely needs to be looked into. They are out there working for us, so I want to do right by them.

And in conclusion, I would look closely at ways to improve some of our parks and look into the possibility of creating more. And if the Commission’s 5-out-of-5 voting rule is not immediately rescinded, launch an awareness program as to why it is so detrimental to our city. Lastly, I would work on changing our city elections from February to Election Day in November.

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2 Comments on "Meet the candidates for City of South Miami Commissioner-Group I"

  1. Luis J. Gil — you made promises I do not think you can accomplish as a commissioner.

    Dr. Velma Palmer — I sense like your aim is to become the “Mayor of South Miami” rather than Group I zoning Commissioner.

    Sandra DiMare-Vivar — The issues in South Miami is greater than protecting “green spaces” which is very limited space and “cut-through” traffic when companies technology like Google Map and Waze will continue to convert traffic into residential areas when one road is congestion. You would have to spend at least 2 billion dollars to develop a new traffic lane or bridge from South Miami and through US1 that leads to i95. I don’t think Miami-Dade County or the residence of South Miami will agree to spend billions of dollar for “cut-through” project and it goes against what you said, this will not ensure a quality of life knowing cut-through creates more stress for business owners and residents.

    Gary Robinson — free parking is not going to solve issues business owners are facing. You seemed ready to spend South Miami money knowing you are not familiar with the issues of South Miami.

    I accept as true that the first 100 days are the most important days for the future of South Miami. After you choose to vote for any candidate, South Miami greatest need is not false “promises” but a bold candidate who will implement change that benefits all of the South Miami. It is said that a very thin line between candidates who make promises during their first 100 days, will adjust or completely do a 360-degree turn after learning he or she can’t deliver on those promises.

    It is so obvious, the best candidate is Donald D. Jackson. No one can impugn the honesty of his motives. I will endorse and continue to support Mr. Jackson for commissioner Group I.

  2. Edward Licitra | February 8, 2018 at 9:13 pm | Reply

    I had a fifteen-minute conversation with Sandra DiMare at my home on Sunday, and the points she emphasized in our conversation are not what she sets forth on this page. Specifically, she expressed her displeasure that the city had not accepted the developer’s 18-story hotel idea for Sunset Place. She also told me that she and “everybody” takes campaign money from developers, but that the developer at Sunset Place was not sponsoring candidates in this election and was merely waiting until after the election to resubmit a proposal – a scenario I found very difficult to accept. She also told me that the current Wendy’s site across from Sunset Place and the current Publix site in Coral Gables a block off U.S. 1 will be converted to tall buildings, and that this is the future whether we like it or not so it makes no sense for South Miami to oppose it. To me this meant that in her opinion the future of South Miami depends not on what the citizens want but on what the developers want – which is the exact opposite of the point of view I would like to see in a South Miami commissioner.

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