Mayoral Candidate, Michael Góngora

Posted by Maryanne Salvat On November - 1 - 2013

mgBy:  Mary Jo Almeida-Shore

 

Cuban-American Mayoral Candidate, Michael  Góngora serves as a Mami Beach Commissioner and has been a long time Miami Beach resident and business owner.  For decades, Gongora has served in numerous civic, charitable, business and legal communities throughout Miami-Dade County and has worked closely with many public benefit organizations such as the Little Lighthouse Foundation and Equality Florida to name a few.  

As a result of his long-term community activism, Michael Góngora was first elected Miami Beach Commissioner in 2006. Some of his many other public service efforts were serving as chairperson of the Environmental Coalition of Miami & the Beaches, the Miami Beach Latin Chamber of Commerce and the Miami Beach Bar Association. In 2007, as the president of the Miami Beach Bar Association, Commissioner Góngora was able to successfully accomplish the reinstitution of the North Beach Pro Bono Law Clinic. 

One of the community services that Commissioner Góngora enjoys most is serving on the Board of Directors for Council Towers and he is the first Miami Beach Commissioner to do so. Council Towers consists of two affordable housing buildings for the elderly and are located in the heart of Miami Beach.  

Commissioner Góngora is also a well-known advocate and speaker on environmental causes having created and chaired the City of Miami Beach’s Sustainability Committee. He is currently the Chairman of the Miami Beach Land Use and Development Committee. He is a Current Member of the Miami Dade Film and Entertainment Advisory Board and the Board of Directors for the Miami-Dade League of Cities Representing Miami Beach. Commissioner Góngora is also a current member of the Coastal Ocean Task Force Representing Miami Beach.  

In 2003, The SunPost newspaper named Michael as one of the “Power 50 of Miami”; and in 2006, South Florida CEO Magazine selected him as a Next Gen Leader. In 2009, Góngora was selected as the Florida Trend’s Florida Legal Elite. In 2011 Góngora was a Recipient of the Emerald Green City Award from the Environmental Coalition of Miami and the Beaches. 

Góngora took time out from his break-neck schedule to answer a few questions about his Latin background, involvement in the community and to share his insights about his campaign and pressing issues facing the residents of Miami Beach. 

What are your Latin roots? 

I was born at Doctor’s Hospital in Miami, FL to a Cuban born father and American born mother. In 1960 my father Alberto, who was eleven years old at the time, migrated from Cuba with my grandparents and my dad’s older brother and sister to escape Castro’s communist dictatorship. As a child my grandparents, Papa and Mama, taught me to speak and read Spanish sharing many stories of life in Cuba. Politics is in my blood as my grandfather was involved in politics in Cuba.

 

How are you involved in the Latin Community in Miami Beach?   

I am very involved in the Latin community in Miami Beach as I am involved with the Miami Beach Latin Chamber of Commerce, the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and CAMACOL. I have been very involved in the Latin Community and know from experience what the needs of our Latin Community in Miami Beach are.

 

What are the needs of the Latin Community in Miami Beach and how are you assisting the community? 

They need affordable housing and legal advice. I always pride myself in finding solutions and not just sitting back. In 2007, as president of the Miami Beach Bar Association, I was able to successfully accomplish the re-opening of the North Beach Pro Bono Law Clinic. I am also on the Board of Directors for Council Towers. I am the first Commissioner to sit on the Board of Council Towers. Council Towers consists of two affordable housing buildings for the elderly and are located in the heart of Miami Beach. As a Board member I am trying to find more options for affordable housing in Miami Beach.

 

Why did you decide to run for mayor? What qualifies you to be a mayor?

 

The decision to run for Mayor was not something that I decided on a whim or for ego like my opponents. I have always loved public service and my track record of accomplishment is proof positive. I wanted to make a difference in my community so I started serving by getting on a board. Since that time, I have served on the Miami Beach Zoning Board and on the Miami Beach Design Review Board among others.

 

As public service is in my blood I have truly enjoyed being a commissioner and making a difference. There is probably nothing more exhilarating that accomplishing something that improves our quality of life. I am proud of those accomplishments.

 

As your commissioner, I created the first ad hoc green committee which lead to the Sustainability Committee and then our Sustainability Plan and better recycling initiatives in Miami Beach.  As my term was ending and I reflected on what I thought was best for the community. I am the best-qualified candidate for the job. I am running for Mayor because there is more work to be accomplished, work that I have already begun of improving our City administration and services. For instance, I fought to improve the City of Miami Beach building department and to make it more customer-friendly with more changes to come. I also insisted on an audit of the building department and all city departments.  The city Finance Committee, of which I’m a member, is working to implement our plan. 

 

What makes you better/ different from your opponents? 

Government is an art, not a science. It is also supposed to be about the art of consensus too. I am the only candidate who has extensive experience creating policy and creating consensus on the challenges our community faces on a daily basis. None of my opponents have experience getting things done in an elected capacity.

 

 

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