Danielle Cohen Higgins again taps real estate to add $39K for Miami-Dade Commission defense
Danielle Cohen Higgins (left) is eying affordable housing ingenuity, county contract reform and bridging a gap between Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay. Image via Danielle Cohen Higgins.

Danielle Cohen Higgins
Her only remaining opponent has less than $400 left.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higgins added more than $39,000 last month to defend her District 8 seat, with much of the money again coming from the county’s booming real estate sector.

Less than a year from Election Day, Cohen Higgins holds nearly $493,000 between her campaign and political committee, Fight for Our Future.

Cohen Higgins was appointed in December to finish the term of Daniella Levine Cava, who left the Commission to become county Mayor. Since launching her election campaign in March, Cohen Higgins has raised close to $650,000.

Along the way, she has seen several challengers fall to the wayside, including Cutler Bay Vice Mayor John DuBois and medical practitioner Leonarda Buike, who both vied for the appointment Cohen Higgins got, and former Key Biscayne Police Chief Charles Press.

Her sole remaining opponent is community activist Alicia Arellano, another candidate for the appointment last year. Arellano, who raised nearly $2,400 through December, has just $400 left. She hasn’t raised a cent since September 2020.

Cohen Higgins, a civil litigator in private practice, received 12 individual donations in October ranging from $50 to $1,000. Almost all came from fellow lawyers.

Most of her gains game from real estate property owners, developers and managers. Miami-based wealth management and real estate development firm GFO Investments — whose chair, Russell Galbut, leads urban real estate firm Crescent Heights and chairs Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings — gave $5,000.

So did a subsidiary of South Florida builder Terra named for Doral Square, an under-development 150,000-square-foot mixed-use retail center.

Subsidiaries of residential developer Atlantic Pacific gave $5,000 altogether. Another real estate company, 13th Floor Investments, gave $3,000.

The lobbying arm of Omaha, Nebraska-based engineering, architecture and construction firm HDR Inc. donated $2,500.

Cohen Higgins also received $1,000 apiece from Miami-Dade-based engineering and construction consulting firms Program Controls, 300 Engineering Group and Nova Consulting.

Legal, lobbying and government relations organizations also chipped in substantially. Miami-based firm Bilzin Sumberg donated $5,000. Pantin Gov, a self-described “boutique government relations firm representing clients before Miami-Dade County government and South Florida municipalities,” gave $1,000, as did the firm’s managing partner, Les Pantin.

Insurance lawyer Bill Gallwey III and his firm, Schutts & Bowen, each donated $1,000. A political committee chaired by Marc Sarnoff, a real estate lawyer and partner at Schutts & Bowen, also contributed $1,000.

Fort Lauderdale lobbying firm Rubin Turnbull & Associates gave the same.

Cohen Higgins also got $1,000 from Mayor Levine Cava’s political committee, Our Democracy.

Cohen Higgins spent about $6,800 in October. Most went to consultants.

She paid $4,000 to Democratic strategist Christian Ulvert’s company, Edge Communications. Ulvert has a wealth of political clients, including Levine Cava, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and Miami Beach Commissioner Micky Steinberg, who is running to join Cohen Higgins in County Hall next year.

Cohen Higgins also paid $2,250 to Miami-based BYG Strategies for “fundraising services.”

Another $320 went to Pittsburg-based voting contact vendor NGP Van.

Arellano’s lone expenditure was a $10 monthly bank fee.

Miami-Dade Commission District 8 covers much of the county’s southern portion, including the municipalities of Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, Homestead and the unincorporated neighborhoods of Redlands, Falls, Princeton, Naranja, Leisure City and parts of West Kendall.

Candidates faced a Nov. 10 deadline to report all campaign finance activities through Oct. 31.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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