WHAT AMERICA CAN LEARN FROM OUR NEIGHBORS TO THE SOUTH

As a proud American, it goes without saying that our democratic system of government is of gold standard.  We export our ideals to inspire fairness and liberty across the globe.  However, nobody is perfect…not even our country.  On both sides of the aisle, our political rhetoric has growth increasingly heated and we may have lost sight of rules of decorum.  From the highest office on down, personal insults are disseminated with ease and vicious tactics employed.  As a five-term mayor, I’m not naive and understand that politics has sometimes been a dirty sport.   That said, we should always aim for a return to civility and find inspiration wherever possible…even when it comes from the most unexpected places.

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Last week, I was the only American elected official and one of the very few Americans invited to serve as an “independent observer” of a Presidential primary in El Salvador, that of ARENA (Alianza Republicana Nacionalista).  Our group was brought in to oversee a process that has often been riddled with corruption and opacity, particularly in Latin America.  I witnessed firsthand this reputedly “third-world” country political party comport itself with dignity, integrity and civility in its primary.  The three top candidates expressed respect for each other repeatedly, and conducted themselves with the utmost decorum. The ARENA party invited this international election audit and wanted to ensure that true democracy would win the day as opposed to foul play.  The vote was secret with great participation by all classes and sectors of society. It was awe-inspiring to see them apply lessons in democratic conduct and move their troubled country a few steps in the right direction. Admirable!

The fact is, it’s never too late to look in the mirror and make strides to improve.

STANDING UP FOR THE CHILDREN OF CORAL GABLES

Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer examines our efforts to minimize risk to our children in Coral Gables.  His comments are copied below or you can read the original here.

Kudos to Gables’ Mayor Valdes-Fauli for proposing a ban on semi-automatic weapons

BY ANDRÉS OPPENHEIMER

aoppenheimer@miamiherald.com

February 26, 2018 07:07 PM

Updated February 28, 2018 08:46 PM

There’s a ray of hope in the war against America’s insane gun laws, which recently allowed a 19-year-old mentally deranged man to buy an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and mow down 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Earlier this week, Coral Gables Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli challenged Florida laws — and put his job on the line — by proposing a ban of assault rifles in his city. Coral Gables commissioners approved the measure unanimously, despite a Florida law that bars cities from changing state gun regulations.

Florida’s gun laws impose fines of up to $5,000 and the possible firing of any official who tinkers with state gun regulations.

Valdes-Fauli says he’s willing to pay the price. “If that helps prevent the death of one of Coral Gables’ children, I would happily pay it,” he told me.

Nikolas Cruz, the shooter at the Parkland high school, had bought his assault rifle at age 18 when, under state law, he was prohibited from buying a beer. Florida has one of the country’s most permissive gun laws.

Fortunately, the city of Coral Gables is not alone in its act of courage, and real — not fake — patriotism.

There is growing defiance from other quarters against the almost unlimited gun sales that have been supported by the National Rifle Association and top recipients of its political contributions, including President Trump, Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

In recent days, Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of the country’s biggest sports retailers, announced it was ending sales of all assault-style rifles. Earlier, Delta Airlines, Hertz car rental, and MetLife insurance, among other companies, vowed to end their joint programs with the NRA.

Unlike Scott, who is proposing baby steps such as banning sales of assault weapons to anyone under 21, and Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature, Valdes-Fauli wants to ban all sales of assault rifles, regardless of whether the buyer is 18 or 80 years old. Cruz would not have been able to kill so many people in so little time if instead of having an AR-15 rifle he only had a knife, or a handgun, he says.

Coral Gables, an upscale community of about 51,000 people located southwest of downtown Miami, has no known gun shops, but has had many gun shows.

“I’m not in favor of outlawing all guns,” Valdes-Fauli says. But as things stand now, “We are basically allowing all guns, and put them in the hands of anyone who wants them.”

The Constitution’s Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms, but doesn’t protect the right to buy a machine gun, or a missile. Just as the First Amendment protects free speech, but doesn’t give a license to people to libel.

The NRA, which spent about $50 million in campaign contributions to the Trump campaign, Republican candidates and anti-Hillary Clinton ads in the 2016 campaign, wants to arm teachers to prevent new mass shootings. Trump is supporting that idea.

It would be a godsend for the arms industry: Even if only 20 percent of America’s 3.5 million teachers are armed, that could amount to the sale of 700,000 new guns.

Trump says that more weapons in schools would help prevent new massacres, because the shooters would be afraid of being killed by armed teachers.

Valdes-Fauli rightly counters that arming teachers is a terrible idea. “Teachers have a complicated enough job as it is. Can you imagine teachers who are not trained for this, to engage in shootouts with somebody with a semi-automatic weapon while children are running in all directions? It’s ludicrous,” the mayor told me.

Putting weapons in the hands of teachers would also put teachers in harm’s way. Imagine if a police SWAT team storms into a school during a shooting and sees an adult with a weapon — they would immediately aim at him or her. Also, arming teachers could encourage violence-prone students to forcefully take away their teachers’ guns and start shooting.

Mayors across the nation should follow Valdes-Fauli’s steps and ban all assault rifles, before another tragedy shakes the nation. This madness has to stop.

FPL: LEARNING LESSONS, FINDING SOLUTIONS FOR THE NEXT HURRICANE

By Raul J. Valdes-Fauli, Mayor of Coral Gables

Hurricane Irma inflicted severe damage on most of South Florida, and Coral Gables suffered significantly as a result.  We’ve all noticed the disheartening damage to our community, and suffered through the massive inconvenience of widespread power outages.

In the wake of all this, Coral Gables is considering a lawsuit against Florida Power & Light (FPL).  Although we have not taken a final decision on our path forward, even the mere mention of this discussion has provoked lively debate from all sides of the issue.  Many have applauded our efforts to hold accountable those responsible for our safety and convenience after major storms, channeling their own suffering by encouraging our strategy.  Others question the wisdom of “attacking” FPL when there is a perception it’s misguided and likely fruitless. 

As a reasonable person, I can completely understand both sides of these arguments and make no claim this is a simple issue.  However, as Mayor of Coral Gables, I’m forced to make tough calls based on the facts, and improve the lives of constituents to the best of my abilities.  For that reason, I do think a lawsuit with FPL is a potentially-effective strategy for us moving forward.  Here are a few points to consider:

It’s Not About the Workers

The single most important point I can make is that a potential lawsuit has nothing to do with the individual FPL employees from our state, and the thousands who traveled from afar to lend a helping hand.  Their generous hard work has been incredible, under very difficult conditions, and we thank them for their herculean efforts to get our power restored.  Our complaint is with the systemic corporate policies of this multi-billion-dollar organization, and our perception that not enough planning, investment or foresight went into storm preparation.

A Monopolistic Attitude

Many have referenced the fact that FPL maintains a monopoly on the business they operate, as do many utilities across the country There exists an inherent need for these public-private partnerships, and the cost of operating a utility is so vast that in many cases it only makes sense with one partner.  That said, nothing dictates that FPL needs to act like a monopoly.  As reported by this newspaper, FPL had record profits of $1.7 billion just last year, largely due to cost-cutting measures and pulling back on critical investments such as tree-trimming.  This is exactly what South Floridians don’t want to hear as they sit in the dark, sweltering without power, hoping for a return to a semblance of normal life.  Even FPL’s recent response to Coral Gables seemed callous, overly-aggressive and incendiary.  It’s a simple fact that they provide a service, and should act like they’re in the service business.  The customer is always right, and they should aim to keep municipalities and taxpayers happy. 

Just the Facts

Some have argued to me that Coral Gables should have done more to prepare for this storm, and the blame should lie with us.  I fervently refute this insinuation.  The entire Miami-Dade County budget calls for two tree-trimming trucks, while Coral Gables actively employs six of our own.  That’s right, you read that correctly.  All of MDC, with its $7 billion budget, has two foliage trucks; while our small city of 50,000 people has a fleet of six vehicles that was very active in doing everything it could in advance of the storm. 

So what could FPL have done differently? 

  • Tree trimming assistance to help residents better manage imminent power failures due to overgrown trees.
  • Strengthen weak, rotting or faulty wooden polls that hold the power liness.
  • Manage people’s expectations better.  Too many of my constituents have complained about their “ticket being closed” even though their power was still out, and estimates being grossly inaccurate in terms of when power would be restored.  In stressful and dire circumstances. people cling to hope of when life will be back to normal.  FPL should more responsibly manage its communications during the wake of major storms.

We’re not alone in this anger.  Pinecrest also announced they are considering a lawsuit, and this week we heard of the development of a citizen class-action lawsuit against FPL.

As we saw with the horrific news about nine deaths at a nursing home that had lost power, electricity in a sweltering city is not a light matter.  I am in no way blaming this tragedy on FPL.  I merely mention to reinforce that these situations are often life or death, and it’s critical that we collectively take stock of what worked well, where there exists room for improvement and how we can avoid the same mistakes moving forward. 

I didn’t run for Mayor in spite of thorny issues.  I ran for this position because of thorny issues. It comes as no surprise that a devastating storm which inflicted so much damage will arouse fierce dialogue and have passions running high.  I accept both positive and negative feedback in stride.  What I won’t do is let criticism stop me from doing my job to protect the residents of Coral Gables, and always enhance their quality of life.  My loyalties lie not with FPL, but with the people of The City Beautiful.  

 

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HURRICANE IRMA: REBUILDING TOGETHER

To My Fellow Residents:

The past week has been one of the most difficult we’ve faced in a long time. 

Hurricane Irma inflicted severe damage on most of South Florida, and Coral Gables suffered significantly as a result.  We’ve all noticed disheartening damage to The City Beautiful, including the landscaping of our homes.  We faced significant stress pre, during and post this storm, worrying about our loved ones as Irma bore down on us; and suffered through the massive inconvenience of widespread power outages.

Personally, I was not immune to any of this.  I welcomed 15 family members into my home to bunker down together last weekend, and we watched with great horror as the storm destroyed so much.  I too lost power for several days, which was thankfully restored less than 24 hours ago.  That said, I know many of you are still without electricity and I empathize with your predicament.  For that reason, as your Mayor I am doing everything in my power to remedy this situation as quickly as possible.  Here are a few steps we’ve taken as your elected officials:

  • We convened an emergency Commission meeting yesterday to deal specifically with the hurricane aftermath.
  • We demanded that FPL attend to discuss their response, and presented our issues directly to them.  Although I am extremely grateful for the individual efforts of FPL employees and partners to help under difficult conditions, I expressed my dismay with their company-wide planning and performance in restoring power to our residents.
  • We collectively complained to FPL about the lack of proper infrastructure for our City such as the many old telephone poles that broke in half.
  • We demanded that FPL stop misinforming residents about who is responsible for dealing with power lines tangled in trees. Our residents must not be endangered because of misinformation or lack of performance.
  • I voted to support a motion to explore placing our power lines underground, as other South Florida municipalities have, to ensure we avoid these problems in the future.
  • I made a motion that passed unanimously to have the City Attorney explore a law suit against FPL. We would be the first Florida city to consider such a possibility.
  • We will continue to work diligently to advance pickup of debris as quickly as we can, working within the strict guidelines dictated by FEMA.

Although the storm is behind us and (thankfully) we are safe, the cleanup and rebuilding will be a long road ahead. I intend to lead this process, and relentlessly advocate on your behalf until our power, lush vegetation, and quality of life are fully restored.

QUALITY EDUCATION SHOULD BE RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER

by Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli

Local media, including the Miami Herald, has recently written about the “purchase” of public school seats by affluent communities. I wish to present some counter-facts that should be kept in mind in this discussion. As Mayor of Coral Gables, I’ve seen first-hand how reality can often be quite different from the public perception.

I am a firm believer in the goals of inclusion, racial and ethnic diversity, and social and economic prosperity for all. I also firmly believe that neighborhood schools have a place in our society.

That said, geographic proximity to schools must be a consideration and too often the concept of a quality “neighborhood school” is a relic of the past. Yes, inclusion and diversity are not only good, they are necessary but not to the exclusion of neighborhood children. Three instances come to mind:

  1. Coral Gables High School is supposedly our high school yet only 14% of its students are from Coral Gables. Yes, many Coral Gables parents do send their children to private schools but this is because of the quality (or lack thereof) provided by the local option. In 2015-2016 it was ranked a C school and in 2016- 2017 the ranking went up onestep to a B school. This is a school which historically was the prideof our city and county because of its superb standards. Moreover, to add insult to injury, the District made the decision years ago to move the International Studies program out of Coral Gables High School and add it to the super magnet Coral Reef Senior High School, a consistently A rated school, 10 miles away from us. Parents want a better education for their kids.
  2. Unlike Coral Gables High, our parents are waiting in line to send their children to the Henry S. West Laboratory School located in Coral Gables. West Lab has only 18% of its students residing in Coral Gables attending its program. Keep in mind that even though the local neighborhood must bear the impact of the school, the school enrolls kids from all over the county and our kids, neighborhood children, receive no consideration in being able to attend. Diversity and inclusiveness are good but to the exclusion of neighborhood kids?
  3. The elementary schools closest to our Crafts Section, along our Eastern boundary, are Coral Gables Preparatory Academy and George Washington Carver. The School District mandates that our students skip Coral Gables Preparatory Academy and George Washington Carver and attend a more distant school; Frances S. Tucker. Why this exclusion from our logical geographic option?

There is a serious misunderstanding regarding our Henry S. West Laboratory School proposal. We are not proposing to add children to existing capacity thus depriving any child from a place in the school. We are proposing to add seats to the school; the added seats would be used for neighborhood resident children who otherwise would not be included. This will increase diversity by including the Coral Gables children in their neighborhood school. Is that wrong?

 Despite its name, only 14% of students at Coral Gables Senior High come from Coral Gables

Despite its name, only 14% of students at Coral Gables Senior High come from Coral Gables

Coral Gables pays one hundred million dollars a year in school taxes, yes one billion dollars every 10 years. We deserve better; we deserve a chance for our children to attend their neighborhood schools. Coral Gables is a diverse community, racially, ethnically and economically, and we do not merit being discriminated against. In addition, at a time when communities, such as our, are struggling to reduce traffic, energy consumption and pollution, precluding neighborhood residents from attending their neighborhood schools seems counterintuitive.

Do you want to understand the Little Gables annexation proposal in more detail?

The City of Coral Gables is hosting public meetings to discuss the potential of annexing Little Gables into the City Beautiful. Thanks to the 140+ people who attended and participated in the first community meeting. The City has published several useful resources for you as you decide whether to sign the petition.

Little Gables Fact Sheet (English)

¿Quiere entender la propuesta de anexión de Little Gables con más detalle?

La Ciudad de Coral Gables organiza reuniones públicas para discutir el potencial de anexar Little Gables a la Coral Gables. Gracias a los más de 140 personas que asistieron - y participaron en - la primera reunión de la comunidad. La Ciudad ha publicado varios recursos útiles para usted cuando decida si firmar la petición.

Little Gables Hoja de Datos (Español)

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THANK YOU. IT WILL BE A PRIVILEGE AND HONOR TO SERVE.

Tonight we celebrate a hard-fought victory for the people of Coral Gables!  

I want to congratulate Jeannett Slesnick on an admirable campaign and thank her for the passion she exhibited for Coral Gables. I hope we can come together and collaborate for the betterment of our community.

I also want to thank my family, campaign staff, volunteers and supporters. Running to serve as your Mayor these past several months has been an honor and one of the great joys of my life. I've relished the opportunity to learn about critical issues impacting each of you and engaging with so many passionate residents.

But the work is not done...in fact, it's just beginning. This election was not about me, nor my opponent. This was about crime, traffic, fiscal stability, smart development and quality of life. So today we celebrate, but also roll up our sleeves and begin the joyous process of governing to improve people's lives, and leave the City Beautiful better than we found it.  I hope you'll join me in this mission.

Thank you again for this thrilling recognition.  

Onward!

A FINAL WORD FROM RAUL: REFLECTIONS ON SERVICE & LEADERSHIP

Friends,

The below photo was taken in 1993, at the moment of my first victory to serve as your Mayor of Coral Gables.  It was a momentous, memorable and joyous occasion celebrated with family, and I look back on those years fondly. I am proud of many things in my life, including attaining a law degree from Harvard, starting a prosperous law firm, serving as the Chairman of two Coral Gables banks, participating on several charitable boards and serving as a loving grandfather to my 15 grandchildren.  But undoubtedly one of my most rewarding accomplishments was this tenure at the helm of our municipal government. 

As you know, after several years out of the political fray, I’ve once again thrown my hat in the ring and aspire to return to office this Tuesday. It’s an important election, involving two divergent visions for our city. In the spirit of candor, I regret that some heated rhetoric was introduced into this campaign, but I have tried to keep the focus on the issues that matter to you. My hope is that the voters are able to take a step back before Tuesday’s election, and calmly evaluate whose record of accomplishments and vision for Coral Gables best represent you. 

To make your decision easier, let me recap the key issues of importance for our city that I will focus on as Mayor:

Safety – priority #1 is to protect our residents. Even one crime is too many, and I will be intensely focused on keeping crime rates low. 

Fiscal Stability – under my tenure, we had a budget surplus and restored a AAA bond rating.  I take my fiduciary responsibility seriously and will put us back on the path to stability.

Innovation – we need to address intractable issues like sea level rise and make Coral Gables a smart city by leveraging technology.  I’ll shepherd a sense of urgency and innovation in City Hall.

Traffic - it's clear to anyone that lives here that traffic has grown increasingly frustrating. Let’s make investments in small things that can make a big difference, like smart traffic-light technology, expanding our trolley system and ensuring more efficient traffic police to quickly alleviate unexpected events such as accidents and downed-lights.

Smart Development – contrary to what my opponent claims, I am not now, nor have I ever been, “pro development.”  I am for smart development that keeps our city moving forward responsibly within its current zoning laws, and strictly held to areas outside of residential.  As many of you have heard me say, 5% of our geographic footprint in downtown pays for 45% of our taxes.  Given the first-rate public services provided by the City, we have a remarkably-low tax base.  I intend to keep it that way, which is why I simply can’t pander and make declarative statements about being anti-development…in spite of how politically expedient that may be. 

Quality of Life – we will invest in green spaces, parks, public transportation, gallery nights and other things that make truly make Coral Gables “The City Beautiful.”

I don’t believe elections should be a popularity contest. The responsibility of running this incredible city is a serious one, and no one should take it lightly. At the end of the day, I believe my track record should matter. I was responsible for things such as the development of Merrick Park, renovation of our youth center, refurbishing the Miracle Theatre and nimbly managing our finances over four terms.  That’s why I’m so proud to have the endorsements of The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, former Governor Jeb Bush, current Mayor Jim Cason, and Commissioners Vince Lago and Frank Quesada. It’s not a coincidence that all these people on the Commission support me as opposed to their own colleague. They have looked at my accomplishments and evaluated my vision, and I humbly urge you to as well.

Regardless of the outcome Tuesday evening, it’s been an incredible honor to spend time with you, re-learn the issues of importance in the city I love…and have a chance to give back once again. I thank you for that, and wish you the best.  

Warm Regards,

Raul Valdes-Fauli

Regardless of the outcome Tuesday evening, it’s been an incredible honor to spend time with you, re-learn the issues of importance in the city I love…and have a chance to give back once again. I thank you for that, and wish you the best.

RAUL VALDES-FAULI REFLECTS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF QUALITY OF LIFE

It's the weekend before Election Day. I hope that you and your family take advantage of some of the places we love best in Coral Gables. Take a stroll or read a book in one of our beautiful parks, have a meal or catch a movie in Merrick Park, or take your children to enjoy the activities at our Youth Center.

I am proud that I had a hand in implementing many of these projects and in building the spaces that we now take for granted as part of what makes Coral Gables the finest city in South Florida. Please take two minutes to learn about my accomplishments and vision for preserving and enhancing our quality of life by watching this video.

Coral Gables is my home and my family's home. That's why safety, quality of life, and smart development matter to me just as it does to you.

MIAMI HERALD ENDORSES RAUL VALDES-FAULI FOR MAYOR OF CORAL GABLES

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MIAMI HERALD EDITORIAL BOARD

MAYOR

The names are familiar. They want to do the same thing: Assure Coral Gables has a secure and prosperous future. And they both agree that the Miracle Mile streetscape project has been a disaster.

That’s where mayoral opponents Jeannett Slesnick and Raúl Valdés-Fauli part ways.

Slesnick, 69 and a real-estate broker elected to the commission in 2011, is worried about development — and overdevelopment. She says she voted against the controversial Paseo project on South Dixie Highway, now delayed by litigation, and several others that she describes as massive. The Herald Editorial Board supported the Paseo mixed-use project.

Valdés-Fauli, 73, was Gables mayor from 1993-2001. When he left office — defeated by Slesnick’s husband, Don — Coral Gables was on solid ground fiscally. He can take credit for that. He is proud of projects under his tenure, including Merrick Park and the youth center, and says that responsible development will help enhance the Gables’ future.

He’s on the right track when he envisions providing more affordable housing to continue to attract corporations, saying their staffers should be able to live near the job, and to keep empty nesters who are downsizing. The city has to “renew” its population, he says. Indeed, it’s a model other local cities are following to bring new life — and revenue.

Coral Gables is, to residents’ despair, a pass-through community. Drivers use its residential streets to get from here to there to avoid traffic jams. Valdés-Fauli says lower speed limits will help. Slesnick says nothing will help if the speed limits aren’t enforced. Score one for her.

The tone of the campaign is getting ugly. And in their meeting with the Editorial Board, Slesnick denied allegations of being anti-Cuban lodged by her opponent. For all his accomplishment on behalf of the city, Valdés-Fauli appeared too entitled for our taste. Still, we give him the edge over his one-term opponent because of his past leadership and his proven fiscal dexterity. We suggest, however, that he develop a more-human touch. People want to be heard.

For Coral Gables mayor, the Herald recommends RAÚL VALDÉS-FAULI.

To see the article in the Miami Herald, click here.

RAUL VALDES-FAULI EXPLAINS WHY A AAA BOND RATING MATTERS TO CORAL GABLES

I have spoken with many of you about how important it is that your next Mayor be committed to maintaining our city's financial health. Some of you have asked me to explain why a AAA bond rating, a fully-funded pension plan, or reserves really matters for Coral Gables. Please watch my explanations in this short video. I'm sure you will agree that the only way we can maintain our quality of life is by managing the financial health of our city as well. 
 

CORAL GABLES CITY COMMISSION SUPPORT RAUL VALDES-FAULI

“There’s no one better to lead Coral Gables than Raul Valdes-Fauli. His vision – to make Coral Gables a beacon for cities throughout South Florida by using innovative technologies to reduce crime, investing in smart development, lowering tax rates and maintaining a budget surplus – is one I support and that will provide the continuity in government that will benefit all our residents.”

– Mayor Jim Cason

“Raul Valdes-Fauli’s track record of success as former mayor of Coral Gables shows he has the knowledge and experience to lead our city and maintain our exceptional quality of life. I am excited about his candidacy, and am proud to support him.”

- Vice Mayor Frank Quesada

“I admire Raul Valdes-Fauli for all he’s done to make Coral Gables the world-class city it is today. His passion and leadership have won my respect and support, and I am eager for the opportunity to work with him to accomplish many ambitious goals for our city.”

-Commissioner Vince Lago

JEB BUSH EXPLICA POR QUÉ APOYA A RAÚL VALDES-FAULI

Como residente de Coral Gables por muchos años, siempre he respaldado a los candidatos locales que creen en la prudencia fiscal, inversiones inteligentes y transparencia en el gobierno.

Por eso estoy apoyando a Raúl Valdes-Fauli.

Valdes-Fauli trae con su candidatura un historial de éxitos, habiendo servido como alcalde del 1993 al 2001. Durante ese tiempo, el fue responsable por ayudar a reducir la criminalidad, rebajar las impuestos a la propiedad, revitalizar los servicios de la ciudad y devolver el presupuesto a un balance positivo, entre otros logros.

Espero que ustedes se unan a mi en apoyar a Valdes-Fauli en las próximas elecciones de Coral Gables. Su visión y experiencia harán una verdadera diferencia para nuestros residentes y dueños de negocios, ahora y en el futuro.

Vote por Raúl Valdes-Fauli para alcalde de Coral Gables el 11 de abril.

JEB BUSH EXPLAINS WHY HE SUPPORTS RAUL VALDES-FAULI FOR MAYOR

As a longtime Coral Gables resident and business owner, I have always stood by local candidates who believe in fiscal prudence, smart investment and government transparency.

That’s why I support Raul Valdes-Fauli.

Mr. Valdes-Fauli brings to his
candidacy a track record of success, having served as mayor from 1993- 2001. During that time, he was instrumental in helping reduce crime, lower property taxes, revitalize city services and return the budget to a surplus, among other accomplishments.

I hope you will join me in supporting Mr. Valdes-Fauli in the upcoming Coral Gables election. His vision and expertise will truly make a difference for our residents and business owners, now and in the future.

Vote for Raul Valdes-Fauli for Mayor of Coral Gables on April 11.

EL GOBERNADOR JEB BUSH APOYA A RAÚL VALDES-FAULI PARA ALCALDE DE CORAL GABLES

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Coral Gables, 20 de marzo de 2017—Jeb Bush, Gobernador de Florida en dos periodos consecutivos de 1999 a 2007, ha anunciado su respaldo a Raúl Valdes-Fauli para Alcalde de Coral Gables. 

El Gobernador Bush comentó: “Durante mi larga historia en Coral Gables, incluyendo que actualmente resido y trabajo en City Beautiful, rara vez he intervenido en la contienda para apoyar a un candidato local.  Esto es distinto.  Conozco a Raúl desde hace 40 años y he admirado siempre su integridad, competencia y visión para nuestra comunidad.  En pocas palabras, es la mejor elección como nuestro siguiente Alcalde, e invito a mis vecinos a apoyarlo como yo.”

El ex-alcalde Valdes-Fauli comentó: “En un entorno político dividido con retóricas enardecidas de ambos lados, algo en lo que la mayoría de los residentes de Florida pueden concordar es el liderazgo distinguido que hemos disfrutado de parte de Jeb Bush en nuestra comunidad.  Sus periodos como Gobernador fueron marcados por su fuerza, creatividad, buen juicio y respuesta a las necesidades de los constituyentes.  Su endoso significa todo para mí, pero más importante aún que su apoyo político es su amistad.”

FORMER GOVERNOR JEB BUSH ENDORSES RAUL VALDES-FAULI

One of the more notable residents of the City Beautiful, recent presidential candidate and former Gov. Jeb Bush, has thrown his support behind Coral Gables mayoral candidate Raúl Valdés-Fauli.

Bush’s endorsement was announced Monday in a press release from the Valdés-Fauli campaign.

“I’ve rarely entered the fray to lend support for a local candidate. This is different," Bush said in a statement. "I’ve known Raúl for nearly 40 years and long admired his integrity, competence and vision for our community.” 

Valdés-Fauli, a registered Democrat, is seeking the nonpartisan mayoral seat in Coral Gables, a position he held from 1993 to 2001. Bush is a Republican.

“His endorsement means the world to me, but even more important than his political support is his friendship,” Valdés-Fauli said in a statement.

Valdés-Fauli has also been endorsed by incumbent Mayor Jim Cason, a Republican.

The mayoral hopeful has set up shop in the same Calle Ocho location, 5430 SW Eighth St., that housed Bush’s Miami field office during his presidential campaign.

He’s running against another well-known name in the Gables, Commissioner Jeannett Slesnick, whose husband, Don, defeated Valdés-Fauli in 2001. Like Valdés-Fauli, Jeannett Slesnick is also a Democrat.

The Gables election is set for April 11 and a runoff election, if needed, will be held April 25.

--LANCE DIXON

 

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT:  http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2017/03/jeb-bush-makes-endorsement-in-coral-gables-mayors-race.html

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RAUL VALDES-FAULI ON THE ISSUES

Coral Gables Race for Mayor: Raul Valdes-Fauli

By: Gary Alan Ruse |March 7, 2017

Raul Valdes-Fauli is running for the office of mayor of the City of Coral Gables in the Apr. 11 election.

Valdes-Fauli is a partner at Fox Rothschild, Attorneys at Law, and is a longtime banking law leader in the South Florida business community. In practice for more than four decades, he is a dedicated advocate to many professional, trade and civic groups. He graduated from Tulane University with honors in 1965 and from Harvard Law School in 1968.

A prominent member of the local and business community in Coral Gables and Miami-Dade County, he served as mayor of of Coral Gables from 1993 to 2001, as well as vice mayor (1987-88) and city commissioner (1985-89). He was senior tax counsel for Creole Petroleum Corporation in Caracas, Venezuela, and also served as tax counsel for Standard Oil Company in New Jersey.

Valdes-Fauli has been a partner at several law firms in South Florida, and currently sits on the board of directors of the Dante Alighieri Society and is vice president of the Centro Cultural Español. He has received appointments to numerous civic organizations and a number of honors and awards in the U.S. and other countries. He is a member of the Florida Bar, International Law Section and has served on the Decennial Coral Gables Charter Review Committee from 2015 to the present.

Valdes-Fauli responded to the following profile interview questions:

If elected mayor, what would you do the first 100 days?

In the first 100 days I would roll out my plan and a vision of the quality-of-life issues that the city currently faces. They are safety (crime), traffic, “smart” or “intelligent” development, fiscal stability and the effects of rising water levels due to global warming.

Do you think the city does a good job of soliciting and listening to citizen input on projects — the recent art installation on Segovia being an example?

I believe the city does try to do a very good job. However, everyday there are new media platforms available to communicate with the public in real time. As the city implements new platforms, it will get easier to provide information and receive immediate feedback from the citizens. I will make sure that communication via traditional means as well as new technology serve to maintain a two-way dialogue with the public and increase participation. In addition, I firmly believe that we need to get the young generation involved in Coral Gables issues and in government. They are present and our future and our future and they need to be involved.

Now that Streetscape is underway, do you think it was the right use of resources at the right time?

Yes, it was a good use of resources. Currently, there are several contractual mechanisms that can be incorporated in future infrastructure projects that will allow the city and contractors to move projects forward, while minimizing potential sources of delays.

A number of large scale development projects are underway; is the city managing development properly?

Development within our zoning structures is important for many reasons. One of these is the development of our downtown within its boundaries, East of Le Jeune Road. Among other things, our 5 percent of city downtown area allowing us to keep our tax rates low and to reduce accumulated pension plan deficits inherited from prior governments.

There is some talk of annexing High Pines and Little Gables. Is that a good or bad idea?

Good idea. Coral Gables surrounds Little Gables and High Pines on three sides and our safety, security and wellbeing would improve by making these areas part of Coral Gables. They are the holes in the doughnut. Safety and security would improve at very little cost to us. During my administration we incorporated Snapper Creek, Pine Bay Estates and other areas and we are the better off for it.

Even after 90 years, city leaders still look to founder George Merrick to guide policy, especially on development. Should his vision still be guiding the city? If so, is it being invoked properly?

He was a brilliant, hard-working man and his vision was an excellent one, forward looking and not afraid to try new things. He had a vision of a city with beautiful landscaping, an international perspective and one of excellence. He built our tallest building, the Biltmore, and also other innovative parts of our city, the Chinese Village, the Dutch South African Village and others. He was a visionary and we should emulate his example and imitate his spirit.

In order of importance, what are the three most pressing issues facing the city today.

As I addressed in one of the questions before, they are: safety, crime, traffic, “smart” or “intelligent” development, and the effects of global warming.

Some of the residents feel that there may be a conflict with your business. What would you say to them?

This does not apply to me. I am a lawyer with an international business practice.

Why are you the best person to be mayor?

Proven leadership, future vision. I served one full term as commissioner and four full terms as mayor. My record as mayor speaks for itself, including tangible projects, such as the Shops of Merrick Park, the Miracle Theater, the palm trees on US1, the renovation of the Youth Center, and many other significant improvements while I was mayor.

As Mayor, I will pave the way for future generations by bringing Coral Gables into the 21st Century in terms of Web-based technology and other advances that will be available within very few years.

To see the article online: http://communitynewspapers.com/coralgables/coral-gables-race-mayor-raul-valdes-fauli/

 

ALCALDE JAMES C CASON APOYA A RAUL VALDES-FAULI PARA ALCALDE DE CORAL GABLES

Estimados amigos:

Cuando me juramenté como Alcalde de Coral Gables hace cinco años, mi sueño era hacer de nuestra ciudad un lugar más próspero y atractivo para vivir y trabajar. Pero la Gran Recesión afectó a individuos, familias y negocios – y nuestro gobierno local no fue la excepción.

Las recaudaciones estaban declinando debido a valores más bajos de la propiedad que redujeron los impuestos. Los convenios colectivos con las uniones eran insostenibles y una reforma a las pensiones era crítica. Las evaluaciones de los bonos de la Ciudad se habían reducido notablemente. Nuestra infraestructura necesitaba mejoras urgentes. Y la lista sigue.

Durante mi término como alcalde de Coral Gables logramos revertir estos problemas. Hemos restaurado nuestras reservas en los fondos generales; reducido nuestra tasa impositiva; recuperado la evaluación de AAA en nuestros bonos municipales; reducido la criminalidad por 15% entre otros muchos logros.

Pero aún hay mucho trabajo por hacer.

Habiendo servido como alcalde del 1993 al 2001, Raúl tiene un historial de éxitos en la administración de nuestra ciudad. Durante su término el logró:

  • Reducir la criminalidad
  • Rebajar los impuestos
  • Convertir a Merrick Park en una realidad
  • Revitalizar Miracle Mile y el Youth Center
  • Alcanzar la evaluación de AAA en los bonos municipales

Es mi sincero deseo que como yo, usted también apoye a Raúl Valdes-Fauli para alcalde en las elecciones del 11 de abril próximo. Tengo plena confianza en que el continuará con el legado de mejorar la calidad de vida en nuestra querida Ciudad Hermosa por muchos años venideros.

Un cordial saludo,

James Cason, Alcalde

 

Coral Gables Mayor Jim C. Cason Endorses Raul Valdes-Fauli for Next Mayor of Coral Gables

Dear Friend:

When I was sworn in as Mayor of Coral Gables five years ago, my dream was to make our city a more prosperous and attractive place to live and work. But the Great Recession had taken its toll on individuals, families and businesses – and our local government was no exception.

Revenues were declining due to lower property values that reduced taxes. Collective bargaining agreements were unsustainable, and pension reform was critical. The City’s bond rating had been significantly lowered. Infrastructure was in dire need of improvement. And the list goes on.

During my tenure as Coral Gables mayor, we’ve managed to turn these problems around. We have replenished our general fund reserves; reduced our millage rates; restored our AAA bond ratings; reduced crime by 15%; among many other accomplishments.

But there is still work to be done.

Having served as mayor from 1993-2001, Raul has a track record of success in our City’s management. During his tenure he:

  • Lowered crime
  • Lowered taxes
  • Made Merrick Park a reality
  • Revitalized Miracle Mile and the Youth Center
  • Achieved a AAA bond rating

It is my sincere hope that, like me, you will support Raul Valdes- Fauli for Mayor in the election on April 11. I am confident that he will continue the legacy of enhancing the quality of life in our beloved City Beautiful for years to come.

Best regards,

James Cason, Mayor

Slower Speed Limits Save Lives

Earlier this week at a Candidate Forum arranged by the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, I spoke about my plan to reduce speed limits in Coral Gables. My point is simple. Traffic and congestion inconveniences all of us, but traffic should never endanger any of us.

Traffic reduction solutions can take time because they often require budget reallocations, but changing our city's speed limits is simple. This is an important safety measure that can be quickly implemented, and I intend to do so should you choose me for your next Mayor.

It’s a fact. Slower speed limits make it safer for pedestrians. Slower speed limits save lives. Slower speed limits are good for Coral Gables.

Don't you think that we can all slow down a little if it helps save a life?