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/