Group V Candidates: Alex Bucelo | Ariel Fernandez
- Website: email@example.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: (305) 684-3874
- Why are you running? What is the most important issue you would address or advocate for if elected?
Fernandez: I am running with the goal of making residents the priority in Coral Gables, not an afterthought. For many years our focus has been shifted away from those the Commission and staff should serve. My goal as Commissioner is to ensure we make the needs of residents the priority.
- In what ways do you think the current City administration could better serve the citizens of Coral Gables, and how should the incoming administration put those ideas into action?
Fernandez: The Administration must improve its customer service. There is no reason why resident emails and calls should go unanswered by staff, including the City Manager. As Commissioner, I would focus my efforts on ensuring residents are being heard and their needs are being addressed.
The top three contributors to climate change are the use of fossil fuels for electricity, motorized transportation, and construction and manufacturing. Another contributor in the top ten includes methane from waste in landfills.
- What actions would you propose that the City of Coral Gables take to control and reduce these and other climate change contributors?
Fernandez: The City has been a leader on this front for many years and I would seek to continue this. We have a Chief Sustainability Officer who is actively seeking ways to reduce our carbon footprint.
Our City has a major issue that will be coming to the forefront in the next few years: Septic to Sewer conversion. This is a crucial conversion to protect our environment and Biscayne Bay. The cost will be extremely high and we must begin working with the State and Federal government to seek the necessary funding.
Depending on who you ask, Coral Gables is either over-developed or ripe for development.
- Where do you stand on future development and the concerns that residents have raised in opposition? Do you think the city needs more development or more restrictions on development? Explain why.
Fernandez: The solution to this problem is simple, enforce our Zoning Code. We must stop the special favors being given to the developers who are funding candidate campaigns. If a developer is allowed to build a 77 foot-tall building, they should be capped at 77 feet. Giving concessions has placed us in the overdevelopment crisis we are in today. I am the only candidate in this race who has taken $0 from developers. I will be a strong voice opposing the special favors and for enforcing the Zoning Code.
- The Coral Gables Commission voted in favor of an updated zoning code in 2021 after several years of discussion among the residents, the City administration and the City Commission. What reasons would cause you to consider supporting a zoning code exemption or amendment to alter the code for a developer’s site proposal?
Fernandez: As I stated before, we should enforce the Zoning Code. Our City has worked long and hard to create the Zoning Code we have today. Special favors to developers only create problems for our City and encroach on the privacy of residents. Developers are buying land with the expectation that the Commission will allow them to do what they want, regardless of what the Code allows. My message to developers: Coral Gables is not for sale!
Traffic in Coral Gables is a constant source of debate and concern for residents, and as development in the City and across Miami-Dade County increases, it will only become more of a problem.
- What initiatives are included in your strategy to improve traffic in and through the City?
Fernandez: Reducing the rate of development is key to reducing traffic. Additionally, we must engage the County in finding solutions to the cut-through traffic on our streets. This is a direct correlation to the County’s growing traffic problems and its inability to address them. Traffic calming has helped but does not solve the problem. Residents living in our residential streets deserve better.
- Do you support improving safe infrastructure on roadways and rights-of-way to encourage active modes of transportation? Specifically, do you support bicycle and micromobility (scooters) lanes or paths, expansion of the sidewalk system?
Fernandez: We must look at solutions to make our highly mobile City safer. Our sidewalks are in deep disrepair and are causing many issues. As for bike lanes, we must study the issue in each neighborhood and engage the residents to find solutions that work for each neighborhood.
- Do you believe that such safe infrastructure should depend on approval of contiguous property owners, or do you recognize that these improvements benefit all because they increase safety and therefore will increase alternate transportation and reduce automobile traffic?
Fernandez: Community input and working on a plan that actively engages the community is crucial. We have seen the City push plans in the past without active resident participation and it has ended in major disagreement. Any plans the City makes must involve the community.
Civility, Ethics and Campaign Finance:
One of the few things people seem to agree upon today is that, when it comes to political and policy discussions, there is little agreement and even less civility. In addition, negative advertising by outside PACs is a big concern.
- When we look at your campaign finance reports after the election, what percentage will be found to have been contributed from PACs and parties outside of Miami-Dade County? Do you believe that there should be voluntary limitations on contributions outside of Miami-Dade County to candidates for Coral Gables City Commission and Mayor?
Fernandez: My campaign finance reports will show you $0 for developers, $0 from lobbyists and $0 from special interest groups. I am running a purely grassroots campaign. All money in my account comes from friends, family members and residents of the City of Coral Gables.
- Have you pledged to run a positive campaign and to avoid any negative or defamatory attacks on the character or reputation of your opponent(s)? Will you publicly repudiate any third-party individuals or PACs who engage in negative attacks against your opponent(s) on behalf of your campaign?
Fernandez: I have pledged and have continued to focus all my campaign efforts on showing what I stand for and how I differentiate myself from my opponent when it comes to the issues and our campaign finances. Unlike my opponent, I do not have an affiliated PAC. My money and all communications from my campaign will continue to be direct from me, with my name attached.
- What do you think can be done to improve trust and participation in local government? Do you have ideas on how to improve civil discourse in our community regarding interactions between City Hall and the public?
Fernandez: One of the biggest concerns residents share is the lack of trust in public officials who make promises and do not come through when elected. I share their concern and have personally been affected by the deceitful nature of candidates who have no intention to live up to their commitments. The only thing I can do is to live up to the promises I have made during this campaign, if elected.