Steven Meiner wins runoff race to become new Miami Beach Mayor

Steven Meiner
In the past week, allegations about both candidates further complicated decision-making at the ballot box.

Miami Beach Vice Mayor Steven Meiner can remove the “vice” qualifier from his title.

Voters just selected him to serve as the city’s top elected official through 2025.

With all 21 precincts reporting Tuesday, Meiner had 54% of 9,956 votes counted to defeat former Commissioner Michael Góngora. Those figures may shift slightly as additional Election Day ballots are counted and cured.

Meiner will succeed term-limited Mayor Dan Gelber, who endorsed him after he and Góngora outpaced two other candidates — former Rep. Mike Grieco and former MTV executive Bill Roedy — in the city’s General Election earlier this month.

No candidate received a large enough share of the vote to win outright, prompting a runoff between Meiner and Góngora, the top two vote-getters.

Meiner, 52, is an enforcement lawyer with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He won his City Commission seat in 2019 after living in the city for 12 years and was previously appointed to serve on a city advisory panel.

Góngora, a 53-year-old Democratic lawyer specializing in community association litigation, was running to return to City Hall for the first time since 2021 when he unsuccessfully sued Miami Beach to run for a third term.

He served as Commissioner three times, dating back to 2006, and would have been the city’s first openly gay Mayor had he won Tuesday.

The most significant issues for Miami Beach voters this election cycle were public safety and overdevelopment. In the past three years, Miami Beach imposed curfews to curb violent disorder in the city’s nightlife hotspots after several shootings during Spring Break.

There was also ample concern about new construction in the city and the potential replacement of historic areas and buildings with new structures that, while more resilient, were seen as possibly incompatible with the neighborhood’s character.

In the past week, allegations about both candidates further complicated decision-making at the ballot box.

A city employee accused Góngora of berating and threatening to fire her if he won Tuesday after she blocked him from campaigning at a senior center owned by the Archdiocese of Miami.

Góngora declined to comment on the matter.

Then, on Friday, the Miami Herald reported that multiple former interns who worked under Meiner at the SEC said he made unwanted and repeated sexual advances toward them.

Meiner called the allegations “absolutely untrue and offensive.”

Góngora is a registered Democrat. Meiner has no party affiliation. The Miami Beach mayoral race is technically nonpartisan.

Here’s where the two candidates stood on the issues.


The candidates were split on a proposed rollback of alcohol sales from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. in the city’s entertainment district, which a majority of voters supported through a nonbinding straw ballot item in 2021.

Meiner supported the change. Góngora voted against it in 2021 and told the Herald he still opposed the move because it “doesn’t address public safety issues we face around the clock.”

Meiner branded himself a “tough-on-crime” candidate; his policies and campaign platform support that claim. He backs efforts to expand a city prosecutor program, add more misdemeanor crimes to the city code and jail homeless people who refuse to go to a shelter.

He also expressed support for a controversial proposal to allow police to arrest people who film them, backed the creation of a volunteer civilian patrol program and opposed bail elimination for misdemeanor crimes.

However, he also proposed providing employment and mental health care opportunities to people living on the street and a pre-trial diversion program for needy people.

Góngora vowed to hire more police, support a program to install video cameras across the city and create a “Real-Time Crime Center to use technology to keep our city safe.”


The candidates largely agreed on the issue of development in the city but differed on how they would tackle it.

Meiner promised to fight overdevelopment, which he said “strains (the city’s) aging infrastructure and leads to more traffic congestion,” while allowing “sensible development (that) helps cities upgrade aging buildings.”

Notably, he proposed that the city raise its required Commission vote share from five of seven Commissioners to six of seven for approving projects where the building is larger than permitted under a given area’s zoning.

Góngora similarly wanted to back “responsible development” commensurate with the existing scale of neighborhoods and zoning strictures “so long as it does not increase traffic.”


Góngora wanted to improve roadway flows through traffic light calibration. Meiner, meanwhile, wanted to implement a “traffic management software system” in the city and provide free ferry services to and from Miami across Biscayne Bay to cut down on congestion.


Góngora boasted a strong record of environmental sustainability and resiliency. He created Miami Beach’s Sustainability Committee, among other contributions.

During his time in office, he also helped lead efforts to initiate a citywide recycling program and backed an effort to push more eco-friendly development.

This cycle, he vowed to accelerate sea-level rise mitigation projects and maintain the city’s stormwater comprehensive plan.

Meiner’s environmental priorities included increasing protections for Biscayne Bay, which has been subject to fish kills in recent years and installing new water and sewer piping to reduce leakage into the waterbody and surrounding areas.


Not counting Roedy’s roughly $3 million self-investment during the Mayor’s race, Góngora was the top fundraiser in the contest, amassing more than $1 million through Nov. 3, according to city and state records.

That included $850,000 collected through his campaign account, including a quarter of a million dollars in carry-over funds from prior campaigns, and $55,000 in self-loans. His electioneering communications organization (ECO), Leaders We Trust, stacked another $200,000. Nearly all of it came from an ECO supporting his campaign called A Better Future for Miami Beach.

Miami Beach campaign finance rules prohibit real estate developers, lobbyists and vendors with pending matters before the city from making political contributions to candidates’ individual campaigns and their political committees. But that rule doesn’t apply to ECOs, which can run advertisements supporting or attacking candidates within 60 days of an election if the ads don’t explicitly tell voters whom to support at the ballot box.

A large share of real estate dollars flowed into Góngora’s coffers and that of his ECO. That included $50,000 from Location Ventures, a firm that fell under scrutiny this year amid revelations by the Herald that it had paid Miami Mayor Francis Suarez at least $170,000 in consultant fees while seeking approval for a project in the city. Those payments and other compensation Suarez received are now under federal and state investigation.

Other funds supporting Góngora’s candidacy included $15,000 from the OKO Group, which is building a hotel and condominium in the city’s Faena District, and $10,000 apiece from Clara Homes and developer Russell Galbut’s Crescent Heights, the latter of which is building a 45-story residential tower on Alton Road.

Meiner largely eschewed corporate contributions to raise $118,000 through Nov. 3. Most of his gains came from personal checks.

He was the only candidate in the race not to accept funds through a political committee or ECO. That abstinence, he said, meant his influence at City Hall was not for sale.


Meiner carried endorsements from the SOBESafe, a community organization focused on reducing crime, and Gelber. Several community activists also got behind him.

The Miami Herald Editorial Board endorsed Meiner too, but rescinded that endorsement one day before the runoff election, citing the sexual harassment allegations.

Góngora netted nods from Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Pedro Garcia, all three City Commissioners whose seats weren’t up for grabs this year, and a handful of former local officials.

The Miami Beach Fraternal Order of Police, Miami Association of Realtors and Miami’s Community Newspapers also backed Góngora’s campaign. So did The Victory Fund, a political action committee dedicated to increasing the number of LGBTQ people in public office.

Other controversies

Góngora and Grieco traded barbs earlier this year after Grieco shared a secret recording he made of a December meeting the two had at a restaurant in which Góngora bragged about having Galbut’s support.

Grieco told the Herald he recorded the conversation to ensure nothing he said would be misinterpreted by Góngora, who he said was trying to keep him out of the race.

Grieco said Góngora’s claim about Galbut represented a campaign finance violation. Góngora argued it didn’t, noting that the money went to an ECO. He countered that Grieco had violated state law by recording him without his consent.

Florida is a two-party consent state, meaning recording someone without their knowledge is generally illegal. There is an exception when the person being recorded has no reasonable expectation of privacy, such as in a public place like a restaurant.

Meiner drew criticism for opposing some LGBTQ-friendly measures in the city, including one to rename a street after San Francisco politician Harvey Milk. He said he voted against the proposal because Milk has no ties to the town. He also voted against another item to condemn the Miami-Dade School Board for rejecting recognition of LGBTQ History Month.

Commissioner David Richardson accused Meiner of “building a record of voting against the LGBTQ community.” Meiner said he took offense to the claim, pointing to his vote for a measure designating October as LGBTQ History in Miami Beach.

“There should never, ever be discrimination of any kind in any forum,” he said.

The Miami Beach Democratic Club lambasted Meiner for voting “no” on an item condemning the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and another decrying the Florida Legislature’s passage of a bill to ban abortion after six weeks of gestation.

As with the Milk proposal, Meiner defended his vote by saying he would oppose any item whose subject is not Miami Beach-specific.

Richardson cited Meiner’s support for renaming a street after Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize-winning author Elie Wiesel as evidence that Meiner was inconsistent in that self-restriction. Wiesel, a part-time South Florida resident, delivered a speech during the dedication of the city’s Holocaust Memorial in 1990.

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.


  • Brandon Pruitt

    November 21, 2023 at 8:32 pm

    I have pending suit, reproven as own post trial investigator. Please forward to city attorney, congressman Wilson and newly elect mayor Meiner. Attempt to depose, mediate and settle tonight. Would include Miami Beach Realtor association as proposed partial settlement. View as summons during what is world war 3.
    Brandon D’. Pruitt
    Email at [email protected]

  • Julia

    November 22, 2023 at 5:52 pm

    I get paid more than $120 to $130 every hour for working on the web. I found out about this activity 3 months prior and subsequent to joining this I have earned effectively $15k from this without having internet vs02 working abilities Copy underneath site to check it………………..

Comments are closed.


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