Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay & Cutler Bay: Election Season Report

by SDM

SDM decided to take a look from 30,000 feet at the political races for local municipal offices in Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay. Never fear, SDM will get picky, too.

SDM macro observations:

  • Pinecrest differs from Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay on the cycle for campaign reports. Pinecrest candidates followed what SDM thinks is the correct procedure, essentially reporting 4 times since April 1st. Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay candidates reported only twice during the same period. Campaign reporting should not be so complicated that adults in three cities come to different conclusions as to when to report.
  • Palmetto Bay elected offices are far more expensive to seek. Compare: Palmetto Bay’s Cunningham had almost $16,000 on hand while Cutler Bay’s Wolmers reported having only enough to buy a pizza, and maybe some wings.
  • Palmetto Bay candidates have raised more than twice the amount raised by all the candidates in Pinecrest and Cutler Bay combined.

SDM Wonders: What is making Palmetto Bay so expensive? Maybe the chaos caused by the Three Amigos?

City Race Total Raised Total Spent Cash on Hand
Pinecrest Seat 1
Butler, Germaine $1,600 $769 $831
Ross, Robert C. $4,945 $3,603 $1,342
Wollmann, Jennifer $950 $341 $609
Pinecrest Seat 3
Hingston, Robert A. $7,847 $1,969 $5,878
McDonald, James E. $11,901 $2,157 $9,744
Palmetto Bay Vice Mayor
Cunningham, Karyn $18,036 $2184 $15,852
Dubois, John $26,555 $17,352 $9,203
Pariser, Brian W. $11,480 $7,721 $3,759
Palmetto Bay District 2
Araiza, James $9,360 $8,184 $1,176
Schaffer, Tim $6,825 $2,229 $4,596
Tendrich, Howard $5,250 $3,108 $2,142
Cutler Bay Vice Mayor
Sochin, Ernie $7,825 $1,719 $6,106
Wollmers, Ed $200 $171 $29

SDM’s race by race comments:

Pinecrest Seat 1

Incumbent Bob Ross holds a narrow lead in fundraising but his sign presence in the area stands out to SDM’s eye. Former School Board Member Betsy Kaplan and former Pinecrest Council Member Cindy Blanck contributed to Ross’s campaign.

Not counting the candidate, Challenger Germaine Butler only has 2 campaign contributions. Not a sign of much depth of support…

Wollman is a late arrival, only joining the fray in mid-August.


Pinecrest Seat 3

McDonald ended the last reporting period with twice the money reported by former Council Member Hingston. McDonald’s signs are all over South Pinecrest. He received financial support from local notables Charles Intriago, Ed Williamson, Ed Ludovici and John Pistorino.

Hingston is supported by Nancy Harter, who is vacating the seat; by Blanck, former Mayor Evelyn Greer, former Council Member Leslie Bowe along with other Pinecrest luminaries.


Palmetto Bay Vice Mayor

Incumbent Vice Mayor Brian Pariser is facing a stiff challenge from newcomers Karyn Cunningham and John Dubois. Pariser boasts support from Palmetto Bay’s old guard.

Cunningham is a surprise. Her campaign enters the home stretch sitting on more money than any candidate in the tri-city area.  Former Mayor Eugene Flinn headlines her supporters.

Dubois is on the ballot for the second time having lost to current Councilwoman Joan Lindsay two years ago. Dubois is supported by Michael Miller, publisher of the Palmetto Bay News, local activist Stanley Kowlessar, Cutler Bay Vice Mayor Ernie Sochin and many others. Dubois is rumored to have the full support of Commissioner Lynda Bell, too.

Dubois also has one of the weirdest campaign reports. He filed an amendment to the September 14 report that is literally incomprehensible. Perhaps someone uploaded a draft document or something. In any case, SDM chose to publish Dubois’s numbers as typed into the original report.


Palmetto Bay District 2

Incumbent Howard Tendrich is an SDM favorite, but his fundraising is lackluster. He raised less than either of his opponents, although he enters October with more cash on hand than the big-spending Jim Araiza. Tendrich is supported by local famous person Don Noe, Flinn, former Councilman Ed Feller’s wife and better half Arlene, and former Councilman Paul Neidhart.

Jim Araiza once again has posted excellent fundraising numbers. He also has spent much of what he raised, leaving him short on cash – at least as of mid-September. Araiza is running again after failing to make a runoff in 2010 against Palmetto Bay’s sitting mayor. His supporters include legal and business representatives from both Palmer Trinity and Shores at Palmetto Bay, both of which are deeply embroiled in litigation against the village. Araiza is also supported by village activists David Zisman and Bob Orban.

The mysteriousTim Schaffer enters the critical September-October period with the most cash on hand. He also boasts contributions from village gadfly and chief NIMBY Marsha Matson and alleged sign purloiner Libby Williams. Schaffer is clearly a SOP (Palmetto Bay’s tiny reactionary minority group) candidate based on the cast of characters supporting him; SDM calls him the Fourth Amigo.


Cutler Bay Vice Mayor

Incumbent Vice Mayor Ernie Sochin was surprised when Cutler Bay activist Ed Wollmers jumped into this race at the last minute. Today, Sochin has a huge lead in cash on hand, but Cutler Bay races are not customarily decided by money alone. In fact, a Ridge Rat might start asking questions if a candidate has a bunch of money.

While Sochin has carefully cultivated an image of everyone’s favorite uncle, his campaign reports are peppered with lobbyist contributions including $500 from a firm called Educational Management Services owned by Fausto Gomez – the town’s lobbyist.

Wollmers ended the last reporting period with just $29 in the bank. He better hope SDM is right about Cutler Bay’s electoral propensities.

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