Miami Seaside runoff election: What voters must know

Miami Beach commission candidates Laura Dominguez (left) and Sabrina Cohen. Screenshot: City of Miami Beach/YouTube

Miami Beach voters will elect a city commissioner today to replace the late Mark Samuelian, who died in June.

What’s happening: First-time candidates Laura Dominguez and Sabrina Cohen advanced to today’s runoff after neither received a majority of votes in November’s election.

  • Dominguez, who was Samuelian’s partner, was the top vote-getter last month, receiving 41% of the vote to Cohen’s 31%.

Why it matters: The election’s outcome could shift the balance of power on a seven-person commission that, at least once since Samuelian’s death, found itself in a 3-3 deadlock.

  • Depending on who comes out on top, it could benefit either Mayor Dan Gelber or his chief political rival, Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, who considered Samuelian an ally on the dais.

zoom in: The outcome may also affect South Beach’s nightlife scene, which commissioners have been debating since the passage of a nonbinding referendum last year calling for a citywide rollback on alcohol sales from a 5am cutoff.

  • Cohen has said she supports imposing a 2am cutoff on alcohol sales on Ocean Drive, the world-famous oceanfront strip known for its late-night bars and restaurants.
  • Dominguez said she would support imposing a 2am last call in residential areas but declined to say how she would handle Ocean Drive and other nightlife hotspots, the Miami Herald reports.

The intrigue: Gelber, who worked with Samuelian on the referendum last year, is endorsing Cohen.

  • Cohen has also received support from commissioners David Richardson and Ricky Arriola, while Dominguez is backed by commissioners Rosen Gonzalez and Commissioner Alex Fernandez.

Background: Cohen is a realtor and disability rights activist. Her nonprofit, the Sabrina Cohen Foundation, is planning to build an adaptive recreation center that the City Commission voted last year to help fund.

  • Dominguez, who owns a digital marketing firm, worked on Samuelian’s previous campaigns as treasurer and campaign manager. She said she felt inspired to run after his death.
  • Dominguez — who lent her campaign $200,000 of her own money — has spent about $378,000 on the race, while Cohen has spent about $98,000.

Be smart: The winner will serve until November 2025, when Samuelian’s term would have ended, the Herald reports.

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