Anatomy of a Defeat

Lauredo acknowledges that Conte "may have ridden on my coattails to a certain degree," but he bristles at the suggestion that he made a special appeal to the Hispanic population. "I did not campaign as a Hispanic, I did not appeal to any ethnic divisions," says Lauredo, who is president of an airline-parts company and who headed the committee that wrote the village's charter. "I got the vote out because they liked me and they liked my message."

Voting blocs aside, Sime contends that Conte won because he did not suffer from hubris or his supporters from languor. "Let's just put it this way," Sime says. "Whoever got the vote out that day, whoever had the energy and the effort, won. Whoever went out and voted got their candidate in."

Her greatest disappointment, Sime adds, lies in the fact that she will not play an official role in determining the direction of Key Biscayne's newfound autonomy. "That's the frustration, because we were fighting such an uphill battle before," she explains. "The only real legal power we had was the lawsuits, and one of the things the council did -- and nobody, even the people that don't like the council, can refute this -- is that we made people aware of the issues. And they sure knew what was going on, in no uncertain terms!"

The Key Biscayne Council will dissolve as soon as accounting matters are resolved and the new government is able to outline its plans for pursuing matters the council brought to court. These include lawsuits against the county and VMS Development and against the county and Hemmeter Development; a lawsuit against the county demanding a usage agreement for the Lipton stadium; and two suits that challenge a massive expansion proposal for the Seaquarium site on Virginia Key. "We're just seeing what the new government will do," Sime says with concern. "I hope they don't let down on any of the battles that we fought." Her caution may be well founded: Conte, who plans to retire from Varig early next year, says he doesn't know how the individual suits have progressed over the past few months and says he doesn't "have an opinion" about them.

Sime says she's encouraged by the trustees' election, which placed several close allies on the board, and she says she'll lobby the new government to maintain the pressure on developers. It's still too early to make a decision about a run for mayor in 1993, when Conte's first term expires. But Sime draws an intriguing comparison between her fate at the polls and Winston Churchill's loss of the prime ministry in 1945, after he'd led Great Britain through World War II. "I think the Churchill analogy is perfect," Sime says. "And remember, Churchill came back!

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