The War is Over

…Now Let’s Govern!

By Mark Trowbridge

May 2019

With the City Commission and Mayor’s race in Coral Gables now concluded, the time to govern as a political body and focus on the next two years begins in earnest right now.

Yes, there are still open wounds to be salved and disappointments to be dealt with; but one thing is certain, we must move forward swiftly, as there is much good work to be done by our elected officials, City staff and stakeholder organizations, including our own Chamber of Commerce.

While the crux of the Mayoral and Commission campaigns – and even the line of questioning at our March Candidate Forum – became more about development than the qualifications of the candidates, this tactic again proved to be futile and did not resonate with the voters as the candidates may have hoped (both in the general election and the run-off). The war on developers and new projects fell short of the tipping point, leading to defeat being snatched from the jaws of victory for some. It is now time to move on and stop battling with scare tactics, political rhetoric and empty promises. The war is officially over and peace has now been declared (at least for the next two years).

Quixote might have jousted at windmills, but just a few short pages into Cervantes’ masterwork, even the most naïve among us knew they were just static ghosts, not enemies to be feared. The same goes for the architects, developers, designers and construction firms who have helped build our City Beautiful into the gem we all esteem. They are good and authentic partners and many are generous to the most needy organizations in our community. Their thoughtful projects bring new companies, new employees, new consumers and even new business opportunities to Coral Gables and help sustain a robust economic base that keeps our City’s taxes low and services high for residents. The business community downtown represents only five percent of the land mass yet pays nearly 37 percent of the City’s tax base.

The voters who live in Coral Gables (well, at least 26 percent of them) rejected once again the idea that we are over-run by out-of-control development and a forest of cranes (and not the avian type), buoyed by greedy developers buying the votes of commissioners. This is simply not
the case and such pomposity smacks of fear mongering that benefits no one – resident, visitor or employee.

Thank you voters once again for wading through the quagmire (and emails and mailers and blogposts) and making thoughtful, future-focused decisions with your votes. Hopefully, once and for all, this type of rhetoric is laid to rest.

As a Chamber, I would challenge our City and its current and new leaders to focus on real issues in our community, ones that have consequences far beyond the desire to get elected or re-elected.

Let’s collaborate, innovate and create together. And maybe, just maybe, this type of authentic, progressive leadership will encourage new names on the ballot in 2021, featuring thought leaders and community-minded citizens dedicated to our collective future and what is best for our City Beautiful.

Mark Trowbridge is the president and CEO of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce