Crystal Wagar Could Be South Florida's Next Political Leader

Crystal Wagar Could Be South Florida's Next Political Leader
Chuck Strouse
Sure, yesterday was a big day in elections. Donald Trump buddy and crook Benjamin Netanyahu won reelection in Israel, Raúl Valdés-Fauli edged out Jeannett Slesnick for mayor in Coral Gables, and there was a statistically bizarre tie for Miami Shores' final council seat that could mean an April 30 runoff between newcomer Christian Ulvert and Steve Loffredo.

But the biggest news might be the elevation of Crystal Wagar to the mayor's job in the Shores. 

Wagar was chief of staff to Jimmy Morales, who is now Miami Beach city manager and formerly served on the Miami-Dade Commission. She's an attorney who has come up through a dozen roles in Miami-Dade politics, including a stint as interim manager of El Portal. She has won the Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Young Leader Award and the South Florida Women Extraordinaire Award. A couple of years ago, she was named a miracle maker by Big Brothers Big Sisters.

In a conservative city that just a few years ago voted not to support a statewide law that would allow gays to marry anywhere in Florida, she earned more votes than any other candidate and raised the second-most money after Ulvert, according to Al Crespo.

She is cosmopolitan, having been born in Des Moines, educated in Philly, and lived in Singapore, where her husband Kirk was a U.S. ambassador. According to a recent post on a site called Sassy Momma, she is even a friend of Michelle Obama, whom she called "an exceptional mother." She is fast too, having won a track scholarship to Temple University.

Wagar is an African-American woman who has paid her dues and could become a leader in state or national politics — maybe one day to become South Florida's version of the most exceptional first lady of our era. 
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Chuck Strouse is the former editor in chief of Miami New Times. He has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and won dozens of other awards. He is an honors graduate of Brown University and has worked at newspapers including the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.
Contact: Chuck Strouse