Miami Springs voters to choose three City Council members, consider five charter amendments Tuesday
Image via Miami Springs.

MIami Springs City Hall
They’re all vying for a 2-year term on the City Council.

Three City Council seats are up for grabs Tuesday in Miami Springs, where voters will also weigh in on a handful of proposed charter amendments.

The most high-profile contest involves former Councilman Victor Vázquez who last year placed third in a four-way contest for the Miami-Dade County Commission.

Vázquez, who won his seat on the Miami Springs Council with 70% of the vote in April 2021, left office after last year’s election in compliance with Florida’s resign-to-run law.

He’s since been angling to get his old government job back by competing for the Group 4 seat on the City Council.

A veteran of the U.S. Air Force who lost a leg while on active duty, Vázquez previously worked as a history professor, department Chair and interim dean at Miami Dade College. He has also served as a historian at an American Legion post, among other community involvement.

This year, he’s running on a platform that includes prioritizing business and economic development, public safety, protecting greenspaces, keeping taxes low and working with Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s office to address the county’s hotel bed tax.

He faces restaurateur Tom Hutchings, owner of local pizzeria A Little Bit of Philly and son of former Councilwoman Joan Hutchings, the namesake of Hutchings Realty.

Hutchings said in a press note last month that his focus is on public safety, including hiring more police personnel and installing speed humps on Curtiss Parkway, one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares.

The current Group 4 Councilman, George Lob, has kept a promise he made last year, when the City Council selected him to serve in an interim capacity after Vázquez’s departure.

Through March 30, Vázquez reported raising close to $14,500 and spending $6,500 to regain his seat. Hutchings raised and spent about $3,000, according to City Clerk records.

Three candidates are running to succeed term-limited Councilman Bob Best in the Group 1 seat: Orlando “Landy” Lamas, MaryJo Mejia Ramos and Jorge Santin.

Lamas, an architect, previously campaigned for the Florida House before switching races in March 2022 to instead seek the same Miami-Dade Commission seat as Vázquez. He was ultimately disqualified from the Primary Election in August.

Ramos, meanwhile, is a retiree and longtime resident of Miami-Dade who worked for more than three decades in the medical school of the University of Miami. Santin is a real estate appraiser who for 14 years led the Miami Springs Recreation Commission, an advisory board focused on park and recreation issues, before joining the city’s Business and Economic Task Force in 2021.

Lamas reported raising nearly $23,000 through the end of March and spending more than $20,000 to win the City Commission seat. Santin raised about $21,000 and spent close to $19,000, while Ramos neither raised nor spent more than $1,000.

For the Group 2 seat, incumbent Councilwoman Jacky Bravo, a local realtor who successfully entered politics in 2021, hopes to fend off a challenge from former Miami Springs Historical Society member Jennifer Graham.

Graham served alongside Santin on the Business and Economic Development Task Force.

Bravo reported raising $5,600 and spending less than half that sum, while Graham said she amassed about $3,200 and spent $2,900.

On Feb. 17, the qualifying deadline for this year’s Miami Springs election, Mayor Maria Puente Mitchell coasted into a second term without opposition. Prior to winning the mayoralty in April 2021, Mitchell served for four years on the City Commission.

Group 3 Councilman Walter Fajet, the principal at the Academy for Innovative Education charter school in Miami Springs, also won re-election automatically after no one filed to challenge him.

Miami Springs voters will also decide on proposed amendments to the City Charter to address candidate qualifying periods, procedures for partial terms of office, the process for filling vacancies generally, and Special Elections to fill vacancies that occur when Council members resign to run for another office.

They’ll also consider an amendment that seeks to clean up charter language, which the city describes as “non-substantive, technical updates to the Charter.”

The swearing-in ceremony for the winners Tuesday is on April 10.

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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