Q&A with Coral Gables City Commission Candidate Richard Lara

Attorney Richard Lara announced his intention to run for the Coral Gables City Commission on Feb. 27 during the public comments portion of the Commission meeting. He’ll be opposing current Commissioner Kirk Menendez. We caught up with Lara to discuss why he decided to run for the seat and what he intends to do should he win it.

Why did you decide to run for commissioner?

My deep affection for the City Beautiful drives me. Above all, I am a devoted husband of 27 years, a proud father of three daughters, and a resident with a vision for Coral Gables’ improvement. These three pillars inspire my candidacy. I aspire to forge a brighter future for Coral Gables, not only for my own family, but also for my fellow neighbors and the businesses here driving our economy. 

What are the main tenets of your platform? 

Transparency, integrity, accountability, and professionalism form the cornerstone of my campaign, and they will continue to underpin my service to the City and its residents. My aim is to act as a conduit for my neighbors, ensuring their voices are not only heard, but also valued.

What makes Coral Gables special enough to you to run for its Commission?

I love Coral Gables. And I have ever since I graduated from Coral Gables Senior High School many years ago. This is where my wife and I and our daughters call home, where we enjoy unmatched walkability and beauty in the city’s abundant nature. Our city’s unparalleled diversity and cultural richness stand as formidable strengths. It is this profound sense of pride in calling Coral Gables home that drives my desire to contribute to its governance and ensure its continued prosperity. 

Candidate Richard Lara
City Commission Candidate Richard Lara

Some controversies have arisen lately in the Commission, like raising commissioners’ salaries, keeping the elections in April, and taking money from the emergency reserves to fund capital improvement projects. Where do you stand on these issues?

In a pattern evident through repeated three-to-two votes during the last two years, certain commissioners, including my opponent [Commissioner Kirk Menendez], have consistently disregarded, subverted, or ignored due process in their decision-making. My stance is clear: I advocate for a return to strict adherence to inclusivity, transparency, accountability, and openness of discourse throughout the decision-making process.

My commitment is to reintroduce these vital qualities to the Commission. It’s not about opposing advocates for specific decisions; rather, it’s about ensuring that decisions are made with proper regard for due process and public input. That is the key to ensuring that the residents and their needs always come first.

You’ve said that you hope to bring a consensus to the Commission. How do you plan to do this? 

As a commissioner, I anticipate fostering robust and inclusive discourse over the many important issues facing our residents and businesses. With over 30 years of experience as an attorney, I bring a unique background in advocacy, diplomacy, and consensus-building, even in situations where agreement is challenging. Professionally mediating disputes and diligently working towards consensus on contentious issues are skills I intend to leverage to facilitate a dynamic and efficient decision-making process within the Coral Gables Commission, one that truly reflects the perspectives of all residents.