Retired psychologist Sally Philips was elected Feb. 11 as South Miami’s new mayor. Upon learning of her victory, Philips announced on Facebook, “Tomorrow, South Miami comes back together to govern the city as neighbors and friends.
“I look forward to a cooperative and productive two years rallying the commission to address South Miami’s needs and challenges,” she added.
The evening after election day, Philips was sworn in at South Miami City Hall. Mayor Philips campaigned on improving the downtown area and ensuring homes no longer run on septic tanks.
Philips won the election with 33.99 percent of the vote, with former South Miami Mayor Horace Feliu coming in second with 22.82 percent, and commercial real-estate appraiser Mark Lago landing in third place with 22.26 percent of the vote. The distance between Feliu and Lago’s vote totals was striking, with merely 12 votes separating them.
A referendum vote was also on the ballot. A charter amendment increasing maximum years the city auditor may serve passed with 55.80 percent of the votes cast. The amendment expands the city auditor’s term from three years to a maximum allowable term of six-years was proposed to better enable the city auditor to identify areas for improvement within municipal operations. The amendment came at the recommendation of the citizens comprising the South Miami Audit Committee.
In the Group 2 Commissioner race, incumbent Josh Liebman was re-elected to a third term, winning his election decisively with 55.20 percent of the vote. Group 3 Commissioner Bob Welsh will remain for a third term, as his seat was uncontested.
“Apparently, nobody thought they could take [Welch] on,” said Community Newspapers Publisher Michael Miller during an election results panel discussion broadcasted live on the news organization’s Facebook.
During that same panel discussion, South Miami activist Steve Cody floated the idea that the city should consider moving the date of its election day, “to a time when everybody else is coming out,” he said.
Cody also suggested the city might consider instituting single-member districts in the future. “It can be done to give every community an opportunity to have a seat at the table,” Cody noted.
Voter turnout for the South Miami municipal election was 27 percent with 2,175 ballots cast. The city has 7,838 registered voters.
Here’s to hoping turnout increases next time around.
About Bryan Hernandez
CNews Columnist Bryan Hernandez is the former President of the Kendall Democrats Club, a grassroots organization with the Miami-Dade Democratic Party. In 2017, Hernandez worked at the Democratic National Committee in Washington. He graduated from American University with a B.A. in Political Science.