Vince Lago Wins Mayoral Race, City Commissioners Face Runoff
Vice Mayor Vince Lago will be the next mayor of Coral Gables, defeating Commissioner Pat Keon by double digits in a contentious contest that captured a record number of votes in the election held on April 13. A total of 10,354 voters turned out, up significantly from the 8,574 voters who participated in the 2019 election. Lago got 6,004 votes (58 percent), Keon got 3,887 votes (38 percent), while Jackson Holmes, a late dark horse candidate, captured 463 votes (4 percent).
For the two commission seats left vacant by Lago and Keon, both races resulted in a runoff because no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote. For the Group II commission seat, Rhonda Anderson captured 4,307 votes (42 percent). She will run against Jose Valdés-Fauli, who won 2,671 votes (26 percent). For the Group III commission seat, Javier Baños got 3,208 votes (32 percent). He will run against Kirk Menendez, who won 3,088 votes (31 percent). These candidates will face each other in a runoff election scheduled for April 27, with early voting allowed the previous weekend.
Development was a key issue in the race, with most candidates posturing against excessive development. That did not stop political action committees from filling residents’ mailboxes with daily negative attacks on the candidates, often with misleading smears. Voters were apparently not significantly influenced by the negative campaigns, however, especially those against Lago, one of the most popular commissioners in recent years. Even a last minute endorsement of Keon by the Miami Herald failed to sway voters’ approval for Lago’s opposition to massive development projects, his support of green initiatives and historic preservation, and his open door approach to engaging residents.