Monday, July 12, 2010

Mayor Kerdyk in the Gables future? Maybe

Vice Mayor William "Bill" Kerdyk, a 16-year commissioner long considered a mayor-in-grooming by many, would not commit to a run for the seat next April at the Ponce Business Association lunch Monday.

But he clearly said, and repeated, that he was "strongly considering it" and would not "make a decision til after September."

Kerdyk, a local favorite, said it has nothing to do with who else was running, but just depended on the answer to two questions: "Is it the best thing for Coral Gables? And is it the best thing for my family?

"And not necessarily in that order."

Ladra's just a really good watchdog, but she thinks he's being smart. That way, it doesn't turn the budget into a campaign issue before it's passed. And people won't connect Kerdyk's mayoral campaign to the budget concerns that are likely to rile up the Gables masses -- such as ballooning pension costs that take up nearly 15 percent of the budget and a proposed 45 percent hike in building fees commissioners will consider at tomorrow's meeting.

The business and civic leaders in the upstairs room at JohnMartin's Monday were mostly disappointed. Many of them have urged Kerdyk to run for mayor (as far back as two terms ago).

Gables voters adopted term limits in the 2009 election and Kerdyk has one more term as commissioner before he is termed out if he decides to stay put. Nobody has stepped up to run in Kerdyk's commission group. (Probably because he is hard to beat. I mean, the guy could be mayor).

The other seat open is the one held by Commissioner Wayne "Chip" Withers for more than 20 years. He has announced that he is not seeking re-election and three men have expressed interest: Richard Martin, who lost in 2009 to Commissioner Ralph Cabrera, Brad Rosenblatt, a businessman who served as president of the Coral Gables Business Improvement District, and attorney Frank Quesada, who worked for Kerdyk Real Estate once and now works at the law firm of former Gables Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli.

It's a small city (50,000 or so residents -- and almost 30,000 registered voters, according to the county's elections department).

Attorney Tom Korge, a past chair of the city's planning and zoning board, and former U.S. Ambassador James Cason -- who headed the U.S. Interest Section in Havana from 2002 to 2005 and is now president of the Center for a Free Cuba -- have expressed interest in the mayor's seat, said City Clerk Walter Foeman.

Mayor Don Slesnick, first elected in 2001, has said he will not seek a fifth term (though he has not been definitive about it and hints that he might be forced to run, or obligated, if the people want it. No petition drive yet but we will let you know if that starts.

Slesnick is already the longest serving mayor in the City Beautiful's 84-year history.

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