Nine Newly Minted Power Players Who Will Shape Miami in 2016

Ken Russell won a shock victory over Teresa Sarnoff for a City of Miami Commission seat.
Ken Russell won a shock victory over Teresa Sarnoff for a City of Miami Commission seat.
via Ken Russell's Facebook

Like any big city, Miami has its power-player mainstays — it's hard to imagine Dade County without Katherine Fernandez Rundle and Xavier Suarez, for instance. But it's also the kind of town where people's influence can come and go quicker than Justin Bieber's Ferrari on South Beach.

Here's a look at the newly minted power players who pulled themselves up to the big kid's table in 2015 and are certain to shape the city in 2016. 

Ken Russell 
City of Miami Commissioner  

A little more than a year ago, Russell was simply a man concerned about toxic soil in his local park and upset with his city commissioner's reluctance to do anything about it. That civic involvement led Russell to run for the Miami Commission against Teresa Sarnoff, the well-funded and über-connected wife of term-limited Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who had disillusioned Russell in the first place. In a crowded race in District 2, Russell pulled off an upset victory fueled by grassroots efforts. Though he failed to initially reach the 50 percent to avoid a runoff, his huge lead over Sarnoff caused her to drop out of the race. Russell has already pledged to pursue an agenda covering everything from environmentalism to more responsible development and even an end to predatory parking lots. 

David Beckham
Owner of a Stadium Site, Finally

Beckham has been a worldwide power player for most of his adult life, but after announcing his plans to bring a Major League Soccer team to Miami two years ago, he started to look like a chump. Beckham and his business partners chased potential stadium site after potential stadium site, only to see each plan go up in smoke. The group has finally now settled on a site in Overtown near the Miami River. The stadium's construction will obviously alter the fabric of the neighborhood.

At the same time, we're glad Beckham can finally concentrate on some of the other aspects of the team — like, what is the team's name and are you or are you not going to try to sign Ronaldo and/or Zlatan?

Raquel Regalado is bidding for the county mayor's seat.
Raquel Regalado is bidding for the county mayor's seat.
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

Raquel Regalado
Miami-Dade Count Mayoral Candidate

The daughter of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, Raquel has been quietly growing her influence throughout his tenure. She won a seat on the county school board in 2010 and also hosts a local Spanish-language radio program and a television show. She set her sights on issues beyond the school board by becoming a key figure in opposition to the proposed Skyrise observation tower and announced her campaign for Miami-Dade County mayor earlier this year. With auto magnate Norman Braman funding her campaign, she's sure to be a serious threat in the election. 

Julio Frenk
President, University of Miami

Donna Shalala may have been a person of physically small stature, but the shoes she left to fill as president of the University of Miami couldn't have been bigger. She raised the academic profile of the institution to new heights while also raising tons of money. 

Frenk, who officially took office before the fall semester, has already begun to better address the needs of minority and LGBT students on campus and also played a big part in hiring the next guy on this list. 

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