Steven Meiner defeated Michael Gongora in the runoff election for Miami Beach mayor on Tuesday, winning by more than 700 votes with all precincts reporting results shortly after 8 p.m.
Meiner received 54% of votes with about 10,000 ballots cast. He will be sworn in next week to succeed Dan Gelber, the city’s mayor since 2017 who is term-limited. Miami Beach mayors can serve up to three two-year terms.
Meiner has been a Miami Beach city commissioner since 2019. He ran on a tough-on-crime platform, billing himself as the “law and order candidate” for mayor. And he emphasized his political ethics, refusing to take campaign donations from developers and touting his independence on the City Commission.
“It’s all about the residents, and I think that’s the difference-maker in this election,” Meiner said in a victory speech during a watch party Tuesday night. “I just kept focusing on the issues that are important to us, to residents, and that’s who I am.”
Meiner and Gongora entered the runoff after finishing first and second, respectively, in a four-person mayoral race on Nov. 7 in which none of the candidates earned more than 50% of votes. They defeated Mike Grieco, a former commissioner and state representative, and Bill Roedy, a former MTV executive who spent nearly $3 million during his campaign.
Meiner, an enforcement attorney with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) office in Miami since 2007, reported just over $200,000 in campaign spending, less than half of what was spent by Gongora, also a former city commissioner.
Gongora is a condo board attorney who served three terms on the Miami Beach City Commission. He was first elected in a special election in 2006, serving a partial term, and was elected again in 2009 and 2017. Had he won, he would have become the first openly gay mayor of Miami Beach.
Meiner has supported public safety measures on the City Commission that have largely been embraced by his colleagues.
He has advocated for the expansion of a municipal prosecutor program aimed at addressing quality-of-life crimes and pushed for an ordinance that led to arrests of people for filming police officers. He voted in favor of a measure last month to subject homeless people to arrest for sleeping outside if they decline an available shelter bed in the city of Miami.
“We are not going to become in Miami Beach what some other parts of the country have become,” Meiner said during his victory speech Tuesday. “We are a law-and-order city.”
Meiner has also pledged to change the tenor of spring break, address flooding due to sea-level rise, seek solutions for traffic gridlock, and limit development.
Gelber, the outgoing mayor, endorsed Meiner during the runoff after not endorsing any of his four potential successors during the first round of voting.
Last Friday, the Miami Herald reported that three women who previously worked with Meiner at the SEC said that Meiner made unwanted advances toward them. They include a former college intern who said Meiner tried to kiss her when they went out for dinner after work in 2012 and a former SEC attorney who reported to her supervisors that Meiner told her he wanted to get a second apartment to carry on an affair with her.
Meiner told the Herald he was “not familiar” with the incidents and called the allegations “absolutely untrue and offensive,” adding that they likely stemmed from one of his former colleagues’ anti-Israel, antisemitic views.
Meiner has faced criticism from fellow elected officials and residents in LGBTQ-friendly Miami Beach for voting against resolutions on a range of social matters, including various items in response to culture-war legislation by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Meiner has repeatedly said he has a blanket policy against supporting items that don’t directly relate to Miami Beach business, arguing they take time away from more pressing issues. He has noted that he voted in favor of appropriations for LGBTQ advocacy groups and supported mobile HIV testing.
In the days before Tuesday’s runoff, his campaign released a series of messages from members of the LGBTQ community in Miami Beach expressing their support for Meiner.
“I’m here for everybody,” Meiner said Tuesday. “I’m here for every resident of our city.”
Meiner will be sworn in Nov. 28 along with three new city commissioners who were elected Nov. 7: Tanya Bhatt, Joseph Magazine and David Suarez.
The three incumbent commissioners — Laura Dominguez, Alex Fernandez and Kristen Rosen Gonzalez — endorsed Gongora for mayor.
The mayor of Miami Beach has a vote on the City Commission and oversees its meetings to set policy direction, while also taking on ceremonial duties. The city’s day-to-day operations are overseen by a city manager.