Media pro Sabina Covo enters race for vacant Miami Commission seat, calls for creative, ‘all-encompassing’ solutions to city problems
Sabina Covo won a Special Election in February to finish the term of former Commissioner Ken Russell, who left office after an unsuccessful run for Congress. Her seat was again up for grabs Tuesday. Image via Sabina Covo.

She was one of 18 residents who applied to take the seat by appointment. City Commissioners opted to fill the vacancy with an election.

One day after Miami Commissioners voted to hold a Special Election to fill a short-term vacancy on the City Commission, media veteran Sabina Covo says she will be on the ballot.

On Monday, the longtime journalist-turned-PR pro announced her bid to succeed Ken Russell in the District 2 seat, which spans Miami’s coast from Coconut Grove north through Brickell. Russell, who mounted an unsuccessful bid for Congress last year, left office early Dec. 29 in accordance with Florida’s resign-to-run law.

Covo was among 18 Miami residents who applied for Russell’s seat by appointment. But in something of a surprise move Sunday, the panel’s four sitting Commissioners — Joe Carollo, Alex Diaz de la Portilla, Christine King and Manolo Reyes — voted unanimously to forgo an appointment in favor of allowing residents to choose Russell’s successor.

The election will take place Feb. 27. Candidates have until Friday to qualify.

Covo, who worked for a year as the director of Hispanic media relations and communications at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services under former Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, is a Colombian-American former TV reporter and program host. Since late 2014, she has run her own public relations firm.

In announcing her candidacy, Covo cited her longtime residency in Miami and years covering issues at City Hall as evidence she’s properly attuned to the city’s and district’s needs.

Priority issues she plans to target include public safety, access to resources, affordable housing, supporting arts and entertainment, and helping to boost the city’s economic development and tourism.

Another top priority is investing in Miami’s infrastructure to improve the city’s resilience and better prepare it for tropical storms and rising sea levels, a press note from her campaign said.

“Miami deserves a representative who will work to enhance our community,” she said in a statement.

“I have lived in Brickell, Edgewater, Coconut Grove and Downtown. I have reported on City Hall issues for over 15 years and I can see why it’s time for a trusted voice to represent the residents of District 2. … We have to be creative in our approach, and our solutions need to be all-encompassing.”

Covo, 43, was born in Medellin, Colombia, but has lived for 22 years in District 2, where she and her husband are raising three children. They are the reason she wants to be a Commissioner, she told officials and attendees of the Sunday meeting at City Hall.

Before the Commissioners moved to hold a Special Election rather than make an appointment, Covo advocated for putting to voters the question of who should represent them from the dais.

Covo’s past media employers include NBCUniversal Telemundo, PRISA, SBS, Audi of Latin America, Caracol Broadcasting Inc., MundoFox, El Nuevo Herald, Spanish Broadcasting System and Gen Media Partners.

It remains to be seen how many of the other applicants for the District 2 seat will file and qualify for the race.

Whoever wins will only hold the seat until the city’s regular election Nov. 7, when Russell’s four-year term was due to end.

All four candidates running in that race — wealth manager Michael Goggins, digital marketer Lior Halabi, nonprofit executive Michael Hepburn and real estate agent June Savage — also applied to fill the seat by appointment this month.

Hepburn placed third in a 2021 contest for the District 5 seat on the Miami Commission, a race King ultimately won. Savage competed in 2017 to become Mayor of Miami Beach, losing to Dan Gelber, who reaches term limits in November.

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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