Kendall HOA group hosting Mayor, County Commission, Property Appraiser candidates forum
Images via the candidates.

KFHA forum
The defending Commissioner hasn't responded to several invitations, the group says.

This Thursday evening, candidates for Miami-Dade Mayor, Property Appraiser and District 11 Commissioner will convene at the Kendall Civic Center, known locally as the “Little House,” to discuss their visions for the county.

Most of those running have confirmed they’ll attend. Incumbent Commissioner Rob Gonzalez, a Gov. Ron DeSantis appointee, has not responded to numerous invitations, according to Michael Rosenberg, President of the Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations (KFHA), which is hosting the event.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava will take part in a separate event next month alongside conservative social media influencer Alex Otaola, who is also running to unseat her.

Candidates set for the Thursday mayoral forum include Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid, ex-Surfside Mayor Shlomo Danzinger, trapeze artist Miguel Quintero — who is suing the county over permitting fines at his home-based business — and media personality Carlos Garín.

Teachers Bryan Paz-Hernandez and Claudia Rainville, who are running to supplant Gonzalez, will also square off Thursday.

So will former Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and adjunct Florida International University professor Marisol Zenteno. They’re running for Property Appraiser. Zenteno also ran for the office in 2020, but lost to outgoing Property Appraiser Pedro Garcia.

All are competing for endorsements from the KFHA’s political action committee, KFPAC.

“It’s a big project to get all these people to come,” Rosenberg said. “So we have several other forums coming up and a fill-in day open for candidates who can’t make it another time.”

Four other dates are set for candidate forums through July 1.

On June 24, 15 of the 16 candidates running to be Miami-Dade’s first elected Sheriff since the 1960s have confirmed they’ll be participating. Each will have 10 minutes to pitch themselves to KFHA members.

The confirmed candidates include 10 Republicans: retired Miami-Dade Police Maj. Iggy Alvarez, Miami-Dade Police Maj. Jose Aragu, Assistant Miami-Dade Police Director Rosie Cordero-Stutz, Miami City Police officer and retired Marion County Sheriff’s Commander Ruamen DelaRua, retired Miami-Dade Police reserve officer Alex Fornet, former Miami City Police hostage negotiator Jeffrey Giordano, retired Miami-Dade Police Maj. Mario Knapp, former Miami-Dade Commissioner and Police Lt. Joe Martinez, retired Miami-Dade Police sergeant and ex-union President John Rivera and retired Miami-Dade Police Lt. Ernie Rodriguez.

All four Democrats — Miami-Dade Police Maj. John Barrow, former federal agent Susan Khoury, retired Miami-Dade Police Lt. Rickey Mitchell and Miami-Dade Chief of Public Safety James Reyes — have confirmed for the event.

Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Sanchez, who leads fundraising among 13 GOP candidates in the race, has not yet confirmed. Rosenberg said he may still.

Recent polling shows two-thirds of Republican Miami-Dade voters have not decided whom they’ll support for Sheriff in the Primary.

On June 25, KFHA is setting aside for candidates who can’t participate on other dates to speak to and field questions from the members.

Then on June 27, the group will host a forum for four other county races. In one, incumbent Miami-Dade Clerk Juan Fernandez-Barquin, whom DeSantis also appointed, will face former Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo. Another will feature Miami-Dade District 7 Commissioner Raquel Regalado and two candidates running to unseat her, former Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner and public schools police officer Richard Praschnik, who also serves on the Kendall Community Council zoning board.

Candidates for two Miami-Dade School Board posts will hold court as well.

One discussion will pit former South Dade Senior High Principal Javier Perez against teacher-turned-tech exec Max Tuchman for a KFPAC endorsement in Miami-Dade School Board District 7. Incumbent School Board member Mary Blanco, whom DeSantis appointed in January 2023, has not confirmed she’ll participate and has turned down two alternative dates so far, Rosenberg said.

Such isn’t the case with District 9 School Board member Luisa Santos, who has agreed to face her lone challenger, legal claims processing supervisor Kimberly Beltran.

Finally, on July 1, Levine Cava and Otala are scheduled address KFHA members.

Candidates for Supervisor of Elections — Miami Republican Rep. Alina García and three Democratic candidates, former state Rep. Juan Carlos “J.C.” Planas, political operative Willis Howard and digital media entrepreneur Arnie Weiss — will also present their priorities to attendees.

Thursday’s KFHA forum will run from 7-8:15 p.m. at the Kendall Civic Center, 8625 SW 124th Ave., from 7-9 p.m. The event will run as such:

— 7 p.m.: Candidates for Miami-Dade Mayor.

— 7:45 p.m.: Candidates for Miami-Dade Property Appraiser.

— 8:15 p.m.: Candidates for Miami-Dade Commission District 11.


Editor’s note: This report was updated to include Levine Cava’s involvement. She had not yet confirmed at press time.

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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