Group IV Candidates:
Ivette Arango O’Doski | Melissa Castro | Jackson ‘Rip’ Holmes | Sean McGrover
- Website: www.ivette4coralgables.com
- Email: Ivette@ivetteodoski.com
- Phone: (305) 632-6452
- Why are you running? What is the most important issue you would address or advocate for if elected?
O’Doski: My roots in Coral Gables are deep. I am running as a member of this community that has lived in Coral Gables for over 30 years. I want to keep Coral Gables as a community and would like to use my experience in advocating for issues that matter to all of us to ensure that our city is a place where our children will want to stay and grow their own families. I want to support our local businesses and protect our neighborhoods by supporting police and fire and opposing overdevelopment that erodes the character and culture of our residential areas.
- 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?
O’Doski: I am honored to have the endorsements from Mayor Lago and all the current elected commissioners. I believe that everyone on that dais today carries the best interest of the city at heart and are passionate about the issues that they deliberate over. They may not always agree and sometimes those disagreements get the better of them. In that sense we should all do better. We are stronger together as a community that can engage each other respectfully to find solutions that are better and even more innovative than the solutions we come up with on our own.
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?
O’Doski: Government at every level wants to increase electric vehicles and achieve net zero carbon emissions. The recycling rate of our county, however, is at 19%, one of the lowest in the state. We need to do better. Our waste-to energy facility in Miami-Dade County was destroyed by fire and we know how damaging petroleum products such as plastics are to our environment, especially our waters. Coral Gables waterways feed into Biscayne Bay. There is legislation proposed in Tallahassee to help our environment by allowing us to grant dollars to clean up our waters. There also is legislation proposed that would allow our city to use grant dollars for resiliency infrastructure. We need to connect with these initiatives that not only provide solutions but provide funding. Our city government should encourage our residents to be good stewards of the environment and we need to message ways that anyone, regardless of age, can help.
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.
O’Doski: Coral Gables is growing at a seemingly fast pace. I think when it comes to growth residents are becoming increasingly concerned. Some development makes sense because it supports our downtown and local businesses. What is missing and contributes to the uncertainty is a roadmap and transparent communications about what is coming online, what that will look like, and where it will stop.
- 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?
O’Doski: I understand that the decisions I make from the dais create precedent. If our government is to be well run and provide the highest level of service to our residents, we must follow the code. Exemptions to the code should not be the norm. There may be factors that present opportunities for our consideration and debate but those occasions should be limited and tied to specific and articulated reasons. These opportunities may include partnerships to enhance our infrastructure, add valuable open green spaces, parks, expansion of sidewalks. We do not want development, however, to continue bleeding into our residential neighborhoods.
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?
O’Doski: It’s important to recognize traffic issues are caused not solely by one individual municipality – which means, we will need to take a multi-governmental view of the problem. Miami-Dade County is a donor county to tax coffers, which means leaders on all levels need to do a more effective job of pulling down resources to address these issues.
Additionally, we need to turn the government into a more proactive entity – instead of a reactive entity. We have to set long-term goals and be more proactive in planning for the future. We need to plan using multimodal options but that will require us to pull down dollars from federal and state.
- Do you support improving safe infrastructure on roadways and rights-of-way to encourage active modes of transportation? Specifically, do you support bicycle and micro mobility (scooters) lanes or paths, expansion of the sidewalk system?
O’Doski: I’m in support of giving people, including the elderly, choices for modes of transportation while encouraging people when they can to take advantage of our Freebee and Trolleys, get out and bike where it is safe, expansion of sidewalks to make it easy for pedestrians and to be inclusive of our special-needs community.
We have approximately 50K residents and approximately 77K in our workforce, with a high percentage of executive white-collar talent. We have the largest cluster of multinational office and consular offices in Florida. Multimodal transportation options speak to the quality of our city. Not to mention that it provides connectivity to the heart of our central business district and cultural assets such as the Coral Gables Museum, Books & Books, our Cinema and the Coral Gables Foundation Moon Project.
- 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?
O’Doski: It is important to build consensus in matters that will affect the property rights of an individual. Our residents should feel as though they are being heard by their government and not feel like they are being forced. We make better decisions in government with the support of our community. To that end, we can all get behind the fact that our sidewalks need improvement and better connectivity. Providing access to parking is very important, but we need to support alternate modes of transportation. It needs to work, it needs to be accessible, and it needs to be efficient.
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?
O’Doski: I believe in full transparency in contributors and reporting donations to the letter of the law. I think that we need to focus more on transparency and accountability in campaigning. I do not believe in limiting anyone’s constitutional rights in supporting a candidate that they believe in. Moving to quicker reporting of donations will allow voters to have more access to information.
- Have you pledged to run a positive campaign and to avoid any negative or defamatory attacks on the character or 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?
- 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?
O’Doski: Government can be disconnected from the general public. Not everyone wants to spend their time at City Hall but the disconnect breeds a lack of trust. For that reason, I want to be a commissioner that will bring City Hall to their doorstep. Mobile City Hall hours, where leaders from our community can come to neighborhoods and local organizations to bring the opportunity to find solutions right to their door, instead of them having to travel to City Hall.