Surfside voters oust 2 Town Commission incumbents in General Election

Surfside Town Hall
They'll each serve through March 2026.

Voters mixed things up in Surfside’s General Election, re-electing just one of three Town Commissioners to additional two-year terms and electing three other nonincumbents to serve beside them.

With the town’s lone precinct reporting at 8:45 p.m., former Vice Mayor Tina Paul, law professor Gerardo Vildostegui, former Commissioner Ruben Coto and Commissioner Nelly Velasquez secured between 14% and 12% of the vote to outpace six other candidates vying for four available seats at Surfside Town Hall.

Because Paul took the largest share of votes, she will again serve as Vice Mayor.

Vice Mayor Jeff Rose and Commissioner Fred Landsman lost their seats. Math teacher Jerold Blumstein, real estate investor Jared Brunnabend, real estate developer David Forbes and retiree Victor May came up short.

Vildostegui and Rose tied for collecting the most funds through March 7 ($7,500). Paul raised $4,600, while Landsman, a prior Vice Chair of the town’s Planning and Zoning Board, raised $3,200.

May, a past mayoral candidate, raised the least ($100), followed by Brunnabend ($200) and Blumstein, a former Chief of Staff to former Miami-Dade School Board members Martin Karp and Marta Perez who raised $800.

Early this month, Rose made local headlines after he accused an 18-year-old activist of pushing him at a candidate event. Police later arrested the teen and held him for 27 hours on felony battery charges. Rose confronted the young man on video about the alleged incident.

Documentarian Billy Corben published a video online Thursday mocking Rose about the incident and bashing soon-to-be-former Mayor Shlomo Danzinger as a “wannabe communist dictator.”

Former Mayor Charles Burkett defeated Danzinger Tuesday with nearly 53% of the vote to win back his old job.

Questions also arose about a Broward-based political committee, One Surfside, that has amassed nearly $25,000 and spent more than $22,000 to sway voters to support Danzinger, Rose, Landsman, Brunnabend and Forbes.

The PC is run by Aaron Nevins, a Republican Florida political operative who attracted national attention in 2016 when he published and distributed to journalists a trove of data stolen from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that he said came from a Russian hacker called Guccifer 2.0.

Most of its funding came from another PC, Floridians Together for Change, whose financial sources won’t be revealed until next month, after the Surfside election ends. That’s due to relatively new campaign finance rules Republican state lawmakers approved last year requiring quarterly campaign finance reports rather than the previously mandated monthly reporting.

Chelsea Road Consulting, a firm Nevins owns, also gave One Surfside a four-figure sum.

The Chair of Floridians Together for Change is Ethan Bazak, a high schooler and past intern under former Democratic Rep. Mike Grieco who now works as an intern for Republican Rep. Fabián Basabe.

The Miami New Times published a deep dive into the PC, its funding and important players Thursday.


Editor’s note: This report has been updated to correctly state Bazak’s employment status.

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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