Jacky Bravo re-elected, Jorge Santin, Victor Vázquez win seats on Miami Springs City Commission
Image via Miami Springs.

MIami Springs City Hall
Voters also weighed in on five proposed City Charter amendments concerning elections, appointments and language updates.

Miami Springs is keeping an existing City Council member and welcoming two new ones, including a returning official who won a razor-close contest Tuesday to reclaim his old seat.

With all precincts reporting, voters chose Jorge Santin for the Group 1 seat and incumbent Councilwoman Jacky Bravo for the Group 2 seat.

Santin won with 54% of the vote in a three-way race. Bravo took 55% in a two-way contest.

A race for the Group 4 seat came down to the proverbial wire as former Councilman Victor Vázquez captured just 20 more votes than local restaurateur Tom Hutchings.

That was close, but not close enough to fall within the 0.5-point threshold required by state law to trigger a  machine recount. Vázquez won 50.55% of the vote, while Hutchings took 49.45%.

“Last night’s election proves that every vote truly matters — especially at the local level. One vote can make the difference between electing a champion for working people versus someone who will keep the status quo. When Democrats show up, we win,” said FDP Chair Nikki Fried Wednesday.

“Congratulations and welcome back to Councilman-elect Vazquez. The Florida Democratic Party looks forward to seeing how he will continue to fight for the people of Miami Springs.”

Santin, Bravo and Vázquez will be sworn in for two-year terms April 10 alongside incumbent Mayor Maria Puente Mitchell and incumbent Group 3 Councilman Walter Fajet. Mitchell and Fajet won re-election last month without opposition.

Santin competed against two other candidates, Orlando “Landy” Lamas and MaryJo Mejia Ramos, to succeed term-limited Councilman Bob Best in Group 1.

Lamas secured 33% of the vote Tuesday, while Ramos received 13%.

Santin is a real estate appraiser who for 14 years led the Miami Springs Recreational Commission, an advisory board focused on parks and recreation issues, before joining the city’s Business and Economic Task Force in 2021. He raised $21,000 and spent $19,000 while running for City Council this year.

Lamas, an architect, previously campaigned for the Florida House before switching races in March 2022 to instead run for the Miami-Dade County Commission. He was disqualified from the race in August and had since amassed nearly $23,000 for his Miami Springs Council bid.

By March 30, he spent all but $3,000 of that sum.

Ramos, meanwhile, is a retiree and longtime Miami-Dade resident who worked for 30-plus years at the University of Miami’s medical school. She raised and spent less than $1,000.

For the Group 2 seat, Bravo, a Realtor in private life who successfully entered politics in 2021, successfully staved off a challenge from Jennifer Graham, a former member of the Miami Springs Historical Society.

Graham also served alongside Santin on the Business and Economic Development Task Force. She raised $3,200 and spent $2,900 on her City Council bid. Bravo reported raising $5,600 and spending less than half that amount.

(L-R) Miami Springs Council candidates Orlando Lamas, Jacky Bravo, Jorge Santin, Maryjo Mejia, Tom Hutchings, Jennifer Graham and Victor Vazaquez. Image courtesy of MiamiSprings.com.

For the Group 4 seat, Vázquez, a U.S. Air Force veteran and retired Miami Dade College history professor, faced Hutchings, whose mother, Joan Hutchings, previously served on the City Council.

The two men competed to replace Councilman George Lob, whom the City Council appointed last year to serve out the remainder of Vázquez’s term.

Vázquez, who first won a seat on the City Council in April 2021 with 70% of the vote, left office after an unsuccessful run for the Miami-Dade Commission last year in compliance with Florida’s resign-to-run law. He’s since been angling to reclaim his old job.

Lob, for his part, followed through on a promise he made to not seek election after the term ended.

Vázquez reported raising $14,500 and spending $6,500 on his campaign this year. Hutchings collected and expended a comparatively paltry $3,000, according to City Clerk records.

The Group 4 race was the most high-profile, considering Vázquez’s prior tenure on the City Council and run at county office. Vázquez ran on a platform prioritizing business and economic development, public safety, greenspace protections, keeping taxes low and working with Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s administration to address the county’s hotel bed tax.

Hutchings, who owns the local pizzeria, A Little Bit of Philly, 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 Miami-Dade Democratic Party congratulated Vázquez on his victory.

“We were proud to endorse him and happy to be part of his victory,” Robert Dempster, the group’s Chair, said in a statement. “We look forward to seeing Dr. Vázquez lead his city forward.”

Miami Springs voters also weighed in on five proposed amendments to the City Charter. They voted:

— No on a proposal to shorten the qualification period for City Council candidates from 60 days to 10 business days.

— Yes for an amendment to make it so that an appointed City Council member’s time in office isn’t counted toward their term limits if their length of service is less than half a term.

— Yes to lengthen the time to fill a vacancy by appointment, Special Election or both from 120 days to 180 days.

— Yes to change the charter so when the Mayor or a Council member resigns to run for another office, and the resignation is after a countywide election, the vacancy is filled by a Special Election in conjunction with the county’s Primary or General election that year.

— Yes for an amendment to the charter removing “obsolete provisions” and reflecting “non-substantive stylistic and technical changes, along with any amendments needed for conformity, implementation and consistency of Charter amendments.”

In total, 1,880 of Miami Springs’ 8,973 registered voters cast ballots Tuesday, representing a 21% turnout.


Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect additional votes and a statement from the Miami-Dade Democratic Party.

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.

One comment

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    April 4, 2023 at 9:03 pm

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