Gables Good Government Committee Coral Gables Election Questionnaire with Responses from Commission Candidates

To GGG Members and Friends: 

The six Coral Gables Commission candidates have provided their answers to a questionnaire sent to them by the GGG Board and Advisory Council.  All responses are published as written by each candidate. We thank all the commission candidates for giving their views to Coral Gables voters on many of the issues that are important to our community.  VOTE ON APRIL 11th!!!!

Election Date: Tuesday, April 11, 2023

    • Vote by Mail Ballot
    • Vote Early:
      • Saturday, April 1
      • Sunday, April 2
      • Saturday, April 8
    • Vote on Election Day

Responses from Commission Candidates

Candidate Response: IVETTE ARANGO O’DOSKI

Group IV Candidates:
Ivette Arango O’Doski | Melissa CastroJackson ‘Rip’ Holmes | Sean McGrover


    • 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. Continue reading “Candidate Response: IVETTE ARANGO O’DOSKI”

Candidate Response MELISSA CASTRO

Group IV Candidates:
Ivette Arango O’Doski | Melissa Castro | Jackson ‘Rip’ Holmes | Sean McGrover


    • Why are you running? What is the most important issue you would address or advocate for if elected?

Castro: I am running to serve the residents of Coral Gables due to the passion I have to make our community the best in the nation and the desire to make a difference. I also possess unique skills and experiences that could help improve the lives of many residents here in the Gables. My presence on the Coral Gables Commission will help bring new perspectives and ideas to the table. As someone who is actively involved in my community, I know that residents are eager to see a bigger change. The most important issue I would advocate for is improving the Permitting Department, in which I know I can put into effect. If elected, I can be a fresh voice with experience to advocate and make the changes all residents urge to see. Continue reading “Candidate Response MELISSA CASTRO”

Candidate Response: JACKSON ‘RIP’ HOLMES

Group IV Candidates:
Ivette Arango O’Doski | Melissa Castro | Jackson ‘Rip’ Holmes | Sean McGrover


    • Why are you running? What is the most important issue you would address or advocate for if elected?

Holmes: My main issue is overdevelopment. Citizens United makes it legal for developers to buy City Hall. The developers donate 4 times more to candidates than all taxpayers combined.  As a result, we no longer have a democracy, but instead a developer-ocracy. Our best way of fighting this is to amend the City Charter to require voter- referendum approval of any major development, as the City of Miami Beach and the City of Key Biscayne have done. Continue reading “Candidate Response: JACKSON ‘RIP’ HOLMES”

Candidate Response: SEAN McGROVER

Group IV Candidates:
Ivette Arango O’Doski | Melissa Castro | Jackson ‘Rip’ Holmes | Sean McGrover


    • Why are you running? What is the most important issue you would address or advocate for if elected?

McGrover: I am running because I believe we need more diversity on our board. Presently, all seats are held by attorneys, and I feel most, if not all attorneys look at issues the same way. My background is in building businesses and investing, and I believe I can look at issues differently that will add value to decisions. The most important issue I see for our city is the oncoming recession that is going to heavily impact the community if we are not proactive in cutting costs, lowering our debts, and putting together a plan to increase revenues through attracting large businesses to our community. Continue reading “Candidate Response: SEAN McGROVER”

Candidate Response: ALEX BUCELO

Group V Candidates: Alex Bucelo | Ariel Fernandez


    • Why are you running? What is the most important issue you would address or advocate for if elected?

Bucelo: I am running because I want to make sure that the character and charm of our community is maintained, our community remains safe, and taxes remain low without reducing city services. I want Coral Gables to be more environmentally resilient and I will always side with my neighbors in opposition to large-scale developments. As a matter of fact, while others talk, I am the only candidate running for City Commission who has actually voted against large-scale developments. Continue reading “Candidate Response: ALEX BUCELO”

Candidate Response: ARIEL FERNANDEZ

Group V Candidates: Alex Bucelo | Ariel Fernandez


    • 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. Continue reading “Candidate Response: ARIEL FERNANDEZ”

Obituary: Coral Gables ‘ambassador,’ attorney Richard DeWitt dies at 69 (Miami Herald)

By Howard Cohen

APRIL 07, 2017 12:52 PM, UPDATED APRIL 07, 2017 12:13 PM



Richard DeWitt’s brother-in-law Jeff Kindler marveled at DeWitt’s adaptability.

“You could drop Richard into the middle of a Manhattan cocktail party, a Catskills coffee shop, a St. Louis Rotary Club meeting, a Southern California boys’ weekend in tents, a Polish town square, a village in Kenya, a rainforest in Peru. Put him in any situation, with any type of people, in any place on the planet. And, in an hour, he would know his way around as well as the locals and have at least 10 new best friends for life,” Kindler said at DeWitt’s recent funeral.

DeWitt, a former Miami police sergeant turned Coral Gables attorney who served on numerous city boards, died on March 29 after a heart attack. He was 69.

DeWitt, an arts lover, cigar and spirits connoisseur, who also loved fishing in Key Largo, met his wife, Luba, 34 years ago while visiting Slovakia. “He was a dashing American, full of energy and an incredible curiosity,” she said at his funeral. When they met her command of English was elementary, she said, and she’d never been to America. But 10 days after they met he proposed.

“There was not one dull moment with Richard,” Luba DeWitt said. He taught her to walk through the Everglades muck and enjoy it and how to camp in the swamps without fear. She taught him to ski and appreciate foreign films with subtitles. Together, they traveled and opened their home in the Gables to visiting dignitaries and fellow arts lovers.

. . .

He served as a trustee for the Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg and as the director of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce. DeWitt was also a board member of the Coral Gables Community Foundation and vice president of the Coral Gables Good Government Committee.

“Richard was a caring and concerned resident of his beloved Coral Gables,” said former mayor, Don Slesnick. “When needed to work for his fellow citizens, he was ready, willing and able to serve in whichever capacity he was needed. Over the years, he served on four different city boards demonstrating his effective leadership style in each instance. When we needed a person to guide the Economic Development Board through the fiscal trials and tribulations of the early 21st Century it was Richard who was the chairman for six consecutive years.”

More recently, DeWitt was an appointee to the city’s Code Enforcement Board and Charter Review Committee. Said Slesnick, “He and his wife, Luba, were active participants in the Sister City program and traveled — at their own expense — with our delegations to Pisa, Granada, Aix-en-Provence and La Antiqua. They were superb ambassadors for the City Beautiful.”

DeWitt’s survivors also include his children Tina Krablin, Rick and Sasha DeWitt, and grandchildren Ethan, Delaney, Liam and Sidney. Services were held. Donations in his name may be made to the 200 Club of Greater Miami.

Read the full article online at The Miami Herald.

Election Update ‐ VOTE! on Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Below is information about each candidate taken from their campaign websites. We encourage you to visit their websites for more detailed information about their backgrounds and issues.

Editor’s note: editing done for brevity. Please see candidates’ websites for full details.


Commissioner Jeannett Slesnick:

Jeannett seeks to preserve the essential features of Coral Gables, and to protect the legacy of George Merrick’s vision for future generations. As a 40‐year resident and current City Commissioner, Jeannett wants to serve a more significant role in preserving the “City Beautiful”. Her efforts will focus on the issues that come in front of the City Government, and she will be especially passionate about the following issues: Open Government, Traffic, Smart Development, Public Safety.

Former Mayor Raul Valdes‐Fauli:

Raul understands that dozens of issues will arise in a campaign for Mayor, but believes that a focused candidate must prioritize a handful of the most critical issues for our community: Safety, Fiscal Stability, Traffic, Development, Quality of Life.

“Coral Gables has been home to the Valdes‐Fauli family for more than five decades. It’s where our children grew up and grandchildren are raised. I have once again felt a strong sense of obligation to serve, give back and contribute to our collective future.”

GROUP III (Commissioner)

Commissioner Pat Keon:

Our Neighborhood Schools initiative also took hold in 2016. Now parents know in advance which schools their children can attend. By working with the Miami‐ Dade Public Schools, we have also maintained a 25% preference for admission to the International Studies Program at Sunset Elementary and continue to work to have more seats available for our residents at West Lab. I’ve been fortunate to live in Coral Gables over 40 years, and I believe our quality of life continues to be among the highest anywhere. I am committed to keeping it that way. I’m proud to have served as your City Commissioner the past four years and, with your support, I would be honored to continue to do so.

Former Commissioner Wayne “Chip” Withers:

Over the course of my career, I’ve proudly dedicated more than one‐third of my life to improving The City Beautiful. I’ve had the privilege of serving on your City Commission and City Boards for 20‐plus years, working closely with leaders and residents to make important decisions that improve Gables’ quality of life.

We live in one of the greatest cities in the world, and one that’s reached a pivotal point in its history. It’s now vital to proactively map out the next 10 to 15 years – not only to ensure that future growth and decisions are forward thinking, but to protect the core values for which our City is known.

Group V (Commissioner)

Marlin Ebbert:

As your commissioner, I will hold developers accountable to the same rules we all follow, prioritize calming traffic and public safety, be available and accessible to you, in person and by phone (305) 778‐4928

Randi Hoff:

It’s important to me that you know where I stand on issues that are imperative to our community’s well being. don’t hesitate to contact me at randyhoffcampaign@ if you want to ask me where I stand on any other specific issues.

Michael “Mike” Mena:

I will implement an aggressive traffic reduction plan, continue to lower property taxes and fees, prioritize smart development – protect our residential neighborhoods, Improve our city parks and promote green spaces, continue to evaluate and implement various sea level rise adaptation policy options at the City’s disposal, work with our Police Department to keep our streets safe.

Serafin Sosa, Jr.:
Interview by Community Newspapers

Top 3 issues include: Congestion due to population growth; overcrowding, which strains our infrastructure; these will inevitably result in more crime; the ongoing Streetscape projects need to be addressed to restore normality to the affected areas, combined with global warming, sea water level rising and aging infrastructure.

No public funds were used to publish this document. It may contain errors and omissions.