Politics

LGBT-Backed Candidates Win In Heated Miami Shores Elections After Gay Rights Spat

It couldn't have been much closer in Miami Shores. 

At yesterday's village council election — which was tinged with county-wide significance because of the village's recent high-profile spat over gay marriage rights — the top vote getter only beat the bottom by 143 votes: According to unofficial results, Alice Burch won the election with 1,025 votes; Steven Zelkowitz came in second with 1,020; and Ivonne Ledesma was third with 1,016. 

The results are a partial victory for SAVE Dade and other LGBT-rights groups; SAVE Dade had endorsed Zelkowitz and Ledesma before the vote. 

The top three finishers, out of the field of six, are elected to four-year terms on the village's five-member council. As the top vote getter Burch, assuming the results hold, will serve two of those four years as village mayor.

"I'm amazed, really, but I’m so excited to have the opportunity to work for the Shores,” she told the Miami Herald. “I’ve been working in many ways for a long time, but always in the background, so now I have a chance to make a difference.”

Miami Shores, a tidy village in north Miami-Dade County, has long been considered among South Florida's most liberal corners and a haven of LGBTQ friendliness. But last summer the council controversially rejected a proposal in favor of marriage equality rights, setting off a protracted battle over the village's soul. 

Only one candidate endorsed by the gay-rights groups — Sean Brady — missed out on a council seat, coming in fifth with 905 votes. After today's vote, of the three council members who voted against a gay rights ordinance last year only former Mayor Holly Herta remains on the board. 

The turnout for the election was gauged at around 33 percent of the village's nearly 7,000 registered voters, and official results are expected either Friday afternoon or Monday. 
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Trevor Bach