Javier Fernández first to file in South Miami Mayor’s race

Javier Fernandez
This marks his first return to active politics since November 2020.

Former Democratic Rep. Javier Fernández is running to become the next Mayor of South Miami — and so far, he’s the only one in the contest.

Fernández, a South Miami-based lawyer who represented House District 114 from 2018 to 2020, submitted paperwork Thursday for the race.

City Clerk Nikki Payne confirmed with Florida Politics on Friday that, for now, he is running unopposed.

As was the case during his time in Tallahassee, Fernández is focusing on improving South Miami’s public spaces and wastewater infrastructure, among other issues.

“South Miami has always been the City of Pleasant Living, but its geography and rich assets also provide us with the opportunity to make it the county’s premier community to work and play in as well,” he said in a statement.

“Together, we can dramatically improve our parks and green spaces and address the emerging impacts of climate change by converting our homes from septic to sewer. We must also continue to provide the highest quality public safety and city services to our residents while reducing the tax burden on our residents who are increasingly challenged by rising housing costs and escalating insurance premiums. I hope I will be able to tackle these challenges on behalf of my friends and neighbors.”

With regard to real estate development in the city, Fernández said he would push for “smart growth policies that protect the integrity of our neighborhoods while accommodating growth that will provide first-class resident amenities and reduce the tax burden on residents and property owners.”

Fernández won the seat representing HD 114 — which covers South Miami and parts of Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, Coral Gables, West Miami and a portion of unincorporated Miami-Dade County — in a Special Election May 1, 2018.

Roughly six months later, he retained the seat in the General Election by a 6-point margin. He forwent seeking a second full term to instead vie for a seat in the Senate. He lost to then-Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez by nearly 13 percentage points.

It was later determined that contest and two others were the targets of a ghost candidate scheme.

Filing to run for South Miami Mayor marks a return to politics for the 46-year-old Miami native.

Fernández’s campaign said he plans to go door to door over the next seven months to seek feedback from the city’s 12,000 or so residents.

South Miami’s election is on Nov. 8.

Mayor Sally Philips, an environmentalist and former head of the University of Miami Employee Assistance Program, told Florida Politics she hasn’t decided whether to run for a second term. She won election in February 2020 with 33% of the vote. Her closest competitor captured 23%.

“I have not made up my mind yet,” she said. “I will probably decide sometime in May.”

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.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn