Joshua Fuller re-elected, ‘Ezzy’ Eric Rappaport elected to Bay Harbor Islands Council

Joshua Fuller Ezzy Eric Rappaport
Both won 4-year terms.

Bay Harbor Islands residents voted to keep Vice Mayor Joshua Fuller in office for a third consecutive term alongside real estate investor “Ezzy” Eric Rappaport, whom they elected to the seven-member Town Council.

With the town’s lone precincts reporting at 7:18 p.m., Fuller had 37% of the vote while Rappaport received 36%. They outpaced two other candidates, Kathleen Kennedy and Alex Rangel, who respectively received 14% and 12% of the vote.

Rappaport will take the seat of Mayor Elizabeth Tricoche, who is leaving office after eight years.

Less than 30% of the town’s 3,132 registered voters cast ballots Tuesday, according to the Miami-Dade County Elections Department.

The election was at large and nonpartisan, with voters choosing from all four candidates and the two biggest vote-getters winning seats.

In the coming days, the Town Council will choose a Mayor and Vice Mayor. Terms are four years and staggered so that only a portion of the panel is up for election yearly.

Going into Election Day, Joshua Fuller had served on the Town Council dais for 11 straight years. Image via Bay Harbor Islands.

Fuller, 50, ran on a promise to further increase the town’s inventory of parks and cultural venues, add to the police force and back water and sewer infrastructure projects paid for, in part, by federal dollars he helped obtain.

He was appointed to the Town Council in 2013 and later won an election to serve the rest of a departed member’s term. He went on to win full terms in 2016 and 2020.

His campaign website said he planned to also work toward reducing traffic, improving school safety, lowering taxes, boosting code enforcement and securing additional federal funds to complete a new causeway bridge.

He raised about $13,700 to defend his seat through March 24, the last date for which Bay Harbor Islands candidate campaign finance information is available.

That includes more than $4,000 in self-loans, more than $7,000 from real estate interests and a $250 check from former Miami Beach Mayor Neisen Kasdin, the Miami office co-managing partner of national law firm Akerman.

He spent close to $5,500. Nearly all of it went to Miami-based Blueprint Consulting for political consulting, advertising and mailing services.

Born in South Florida, Fuller has lived in Bay Harbor Islands since 2003. He said in a statement that it is vital to preserve the town’s quality of life and “small-town feel.”

“I have made it a point to always be available to any citizen who wants to discuss any issue, regardless of whether or not we share the same point of view,” he said. “That is essential for good government, and demonstrates what makes our home so special, namely friends and neighbors all working together to make this town an amazing community.”

In his campaign for the Town Council, “Ezzy” Eric Rappaport said he wanted development commensurate with the town’s “hometown feel.” Image via Bay Harbor Islands.

Rappaport, 52, was born in Toronto and has lived in Bay Harbor Islands for a decade.

He vowed, if victorious Tuesday, to work on improving how responsive Town Hall is to resident concerns, coordinate with adjoining cities to study and improve traffic flows, increase policing, expand community services and encourage “sustainable development” while maintaining Bay Harbor Islands’ “hometown feel.”

Of all the candidates, he raised the most: $26,000, of which $19,500 was self-given and most of the remainder was from real estate companies.

He spent nearly $20,000 on consulting, mailers, t-shirts, a sign permit, graphic design, printing, county election information and web services.

His website says the South Florida Council of Firefighters and South Florida Police Benevolent Association backed his campaign.

“I love living in Bay Harbor Islands and it’s a great place to raise a family,” he said in a statement. “While our exponential growth has brought immense challenges, I believe that our best days are yet ahead of us, by working together for the greater good of our community and future.”

An active and outspoken member of the Bay Harbor Islands community, Kathleen Kennedy was not shy about speaking ill of her opponents. Image via Bay Harbor Islands.

Kennedy, a retired hotel executive and member of the Bay Harbor Islands Parks and Recreation Committee, has lived in South Florida for the past 50 years, 17 of which in Bay Harbor Islands. Her campaign website said, among other things, that Town Hall had become “an unethical cesspool” and Bay Harbor islands “has floundered” on issues concerning infrastructure improvements and community investments.

If elected, she planned to increase pedestrian traffic, clean up local waterways, better regulate e-bikes and scooters, and create more community programs.

“I love this town I choose to call home, but I believe our elected officials and town administration must prioritize the protection of its natural resources and the improvement of the town’s infrastructure,” she said in a statement. “Bay Harbor Islands is a gem that should be treated as one.”

Kennedy raised $2,000, half of which was self-loaned. She spent $635, mostly on campaign signage, postcards, supplies and video production.

She said she and Rangel would bring “independent voices, accountable solely” to residents while Fuller and Rappaport would further increase corporate and real estate influence on the town’s governance.

In the run-up to Election Day, Kennedy wrote disparagingly on her website about Fuller, whom she compared to former Surfside Vice Mayor Jeff Rose for accusing a community member of battery in 2021. Rose drew criticism and lost his Town Commission seat last month after police arrested a teenage community activist Rose accused of pushing him.

She also made questionable comments about Rappaport at the Town Council’s March 20 meeting, when she accused him of not disclosing he is a leader in his religion.

Rappaport is a Jewish man and a rabbi. His page on X, last updated on July 2, 2019, says he is a rabbi. A resume posted to his campaign website shows he earned an advanced rabbinic degree in 1996. He also wears a kippah.

“I just got the most shocking news,” Kennedy said at the meeting, the video for which is viewable here. “I didn’t know that a rabbi was running with us. … You should never be ashamed of your religion … but you’ve got to be transparent (and) it’s unfair (to the other candidates) that he is not saying he’s a rabbi.”

After being advised by Tricoche to refrain from personal attacks on other candidates, Kennedy moved on to other topics.

Alex Rangel ran a fully self-funded campaign. Image via Bay Harbor Islands.

Rangel, a 39-year-old marketing executive, has lived in the town since 2020 and has been a South Florida resident for 11 years.

He said he wanted to bring “actionable plans” to Bay Harbor Islands that address traffic congestion, enhance the town’s green spaces and improve its infrastructure.

He also highlighted what he saw as a need to better maintain the town’s three bridges, expand community services and amenities, and improve public safety, including more measures to mitigate speeding on key roads like Bay Harbor Drive.

“Bay Harbor Islands stands out as a peaceful and tranquil enclave within Miami’s bustling metropolitan area,” he said in a statement. “Preserving our town’s distinct character while fostering growth and prosperity is paramount.”

In terms of fundraising, he was at a major disadvantage compared to his opponents. He raised just $500 through March 24, all of it from his own bank account. He spent $267, all but $10 of it on flyers.

He also did not appear to have a campaign website.

All four candidates responded to a short survey from the League of Women Voters. View their answers here.

Bay Harbor Islands spans 0.4 square miles across two islets northwest of Surfside and east of North Miami separated from the mainland by Biscayne Bay.

Fifty-five percent of the town’s estimated 5,717-person population is Hispanic or Latino, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Thirty-nine percent are non-Hispanic White, 2.7% are Black or African American and 32.5% are mixed race.

Sixty percent of residents are women.

Roughly 45% of the homes there are occupied by their owners. The median household income is $73,587. Nearly 9% of residents live below the poverty line. Countywide, 14.5% of residents are in poverty.

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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