Anthony Rodriguez wins District 10 seat on Miami-Dade Commission

In terms of funding, the race was Goliath (Rodriguez) versus several Davids.

Republican state Rep. Anthony Rodriguez has beaten three other candidates to be the first new person in nearly three decades to represent District 10 on the Miami-Dade County Commission.

With early and mail-in voting totals tabulated and all 73 precincts reporting at 10:50 p.m. Tuesday, Rodriguez had 56% of the vote to win the seat outright and avoid a Nov. 8 runoff. Miami-Dade law requires a County Commission candidate to receive more than half the votes cast during the technically nonpartisan Primary contest to win office.

West Kendall Community Council Chair Martha Bueno received 22% of the vote, while former federal agent Susan Khoury got 16%. Small business owner Julio Sanchez trailed the field with 6%.

Following Rodriguez’s win, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava issued a statement congratulating him.

“Rep. Rodriguez has been a champion for West Dade families,” she said. “I look forward to working with him as he represents the residents of District 10 and brings his Tallahassee experience to the Miami-Dade County Commission, so together we can get things done for the community.”

In terms of money, endorsements and support from local and state politicians, Rodriguez held a significant heading into Primary Election Day. The Republican lawmaker raised $1.65 million since announcing in June 2021 that he would forgo seeking a third term in the House for a run at the County Commission.

The owner of Florida Advanced Properties, a property management company for condo associations, Rodriguez accepted numerous five-figure donations from real estate companies.

He spent $968,000 of those gains through mid-August but still had $920,670 remaining, thanks to carryover funds in his political committee, A Bolder Florida, from his House campaigns.

Priorities listed on Rodriguez’s campaign platform included fighting state preemption of Miami-Dade’s control of five tollways under MDX, a county agency Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature tried to dissolve and replace in 2019. Lawsuits have tied up the issue for years.

His campaign website said he vowed, if elected, to eliminate tax and regulatory strains on businesses, protect parental rights in education, alleviate traffic, reduce tolls, improve public safety and add to the county’s affordable housing index.

Despite his friendly relationship with several Florida GOP standouts, including Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, Sen.-elect Bryan Ávila, future House Speaker Daniel Perez and Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez — all of whom donated to his campaign this cycle — Rodriguez received no formal endorsements from any of them.

He did, however, get nods from the Hispanic Police Officers Association, South Florida Police Benevolent Association, South Florida Council of Firefighters, Metro-Dade Firefighters Local 1403 and the Latin Builders Association.

Bueno, who like Rodriguez was born and raised in Miami, is a real estate agent, hemp farmer and former online supplements seller in private life. She is a vocal advocate for marijuana decriminalization.

She is also registered as an independent, though she identifies as a Libertarian and was the former Vice President of the Libertarian Party of Miami-Dade.

For years, she has served as an elected member of the West Kendall Community Council and Zoning Appeals Board. In something akin to a game of musical chairs, two of the Council’s other members, Ashley Alvarez and Jose Soto, competed for the House District 118 seat Rodriguez is vacating.

Since filing to run for District 10 in February 2021, Bueno raised more than $96,000 through her campaign account and political committee, Bueno for Miami. She had $39,000 left by mid-August after covering advertising and consulting costs.

In a November interview with Florida Politics, Bueno described herself as “an activist who simply got frustrated” with what she described as a business-as-usual approach to government from Miami-Dade Commissioners.

She believes in less government regulation and lower property taxes. She said the County Commission has steadily absorbed power over the years from other local entities. Concentrating so many powers and responsibilities into one governmental body is a bad thing, she said, considering how little time — two minutes per person — the Commission gives residents to speak on issues for which they sometimes take days off of work to advocate.

Bueno’s approach to fundraising and campaigning was, at times, unconventional. In July, she opened page on OnlyFans, a website that allows adult users to pay other adults for access to their (often sexual) content.

The page Bueno created does not contain any explicit content. Rather, it features humorous videos promoting her campaign and taunting Rodriguez. She told the Miami Herald this month she has made roughly $500 from the site, adding, “I’m running a campaign that competes with $1.3 million without having to sell myself to corporate donors.”

Rodriguez was a frequent target of Bueno’s in recent months. She called him out in early August for canvassing for Democratic Miami-Dade Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higgins. Bueno noted Cohen Higgins has been endorsed by reproductive rights group Ruth’s List Florida, which she described as an organization that “only endorses candidates who believe in late-stage abortions.” And on Aug. 10, Bueno posted a video to her Facebook page referring to Rodriguez as a “RINO” (Republican in name only).

The two Democrats in the race, Khoury and Sanchez, proved the weakest fundraisers. Khoury raised $2,500 since filing to run in June, while Sanchez collected less than half that over roughly the same timeframe.

Born in Israel, Khoury retired as a former special agent with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2002.

She was part of a recent, successful effort to bring back a county police oversight board following nationwide protests over police brutality and racism. She told the Herald she decided to run for office after years of improper treatment by police that resulted in a federal jury awarding her $520,000 in May.

Her campaign platform prioritized steps to address countywide flooding, expand the Miami-Dade Metrorail, push state lawmakers to fix Florida’s imperiled homeowners insurance market, temporarily freeze rent increases, require residential builders to include a minimum percentage of affordable units in their projects, retrain police to deescalate potentially violent interactions, curb gun violence, promote social justice and create pathways for dignified retirement and equitable health care services.

Sanchez this year hoped for a more successful second run at the County Commission than he had in 2018, when he challenged Souto in 2018 and finished last among five candidates.

He did little campaigning this cycle with the meager funding he had, which through mid-August covered a $360 filing fee with the Miami-Dade Elections Department and $260 worth of campaign signs.

He has no website. If elected, he told the Herald he would work to address traffic congestion in the area.

District 10 covers a center-north portion of Miami-Dade, wholly composed of unincorporated neighborhoods, including portions of Fontainebleau, Kendall, Sunset and Westchester. Its lack of municipalities places a heavy responsibility on the Commissioner who represents it, since the county alone provides services to residents.

Since 1993, the person representing District 10 from the Commission dais has been Javier Souto, a former state lawmaker who must leave office in November due to term limits voters approved in 2012.

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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