Elections are coming up next month in the City of Miami, and in the race for the city's highest-profile commission seat, the fundraising, at least, isn't even close: The big money is in the hands of Teresa Sarnoff, the wife of incumbent Marc Sarnoff.
Teresa Sarnoff is running to represent District 2, the area that curves along the bayfront, like a deformed French fry, from SW 42nd Avenue (Le Jeune Road) all the way north to Morningside Park, at NW 55th Terrace. The district encompasses Coconut Grove, Brickell Avenue, the eastern part of downtown, and much of Biscayne Boulevard downtown — a huge cut of the city's best real estate.
For the past nine years, the district has been represented by Marc Sarnoff, a prolific dealmaker with a less than pristine reputation who, New Times reported, once lied about his supposedly elite Russian lineage.
Marc cannot run again because of term limits. But his wife can. And Teresa, a longtime nonprofit worker who's scored an endorsement from the police union, has raised a whole bunch of money: $659,000, actually, as of October 2, the most recent candidate filing period.
Most of the money has come from realtors, law firms, and private donors — pretty much what you'd expect for a high-money commission race. But Sarnoff has also had some more interesting donors: In September, when she raked in nearly 100 grand, Sarnoff accepted $500 from Sunshine State Parking and received several donations from waste-management-related companies, including $1,000 from All Star Toilet Company, which operates out of tiny Lantana, in Palm Beach County, and rents out portable toilets.
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This past August, Sarnoff also received two $1,000 donations clearly aimed at influencing downtown transportation interests: one from the Florida East Coast Railway and another from Florida East Coast Industries, which operates All Aboard Florida.
Unsurprisingly, Sarnoff's competitors have raised considerably less money. Grace Solares, a Cuban-born longtime activist, reported $175,000 in donations; Ken Russell, a Coconut Grove neighborhood advocate and business owner, reported $123,000; and Lorry Woods, who owns Elwoods Gastro Pub, reported $23,000.
The Miami municipal election is set for November 3.