After years of fighting for LGBTQ rights, Michael Góngora is asking for the community to fight for him.
If victorious next week, Góngora would become the first-ever gay Hispanic man elected mayor of Miami Beach. That distinction, while noteworthy, is only part of Góngora’s plan.
“I want to be the mayor to represent all people,” Góngora said. “Ever since I sponsored a charter amendment in 2013 to protect everyone from any form of discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations, I have worked towards equality for all people.”
After placing second in a four-man field, Góngora faces Group 4 Commissioner Steven Meiner in a Nov. 21 runoff election that will decide who leads this global tourist destination into the future. Meiner, a senior counsel in the enforcement division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, got 4,096 votes in the first round, taking 30% of the ballots cast with Góngora not far behind at 3,854 votes for 28%.
To overtake Meiner, Góngora needs a big turnout from Miami Beach’s LGBTQ community. Aside from Wilton Manors, Miami Beach, Góngora said, is home to the largest LGBTQ population in Florida and ensuring residents’ safety is a top campaign priority.
Bringing attention to Meiner’s voting record on LGBTQ issues makes the choice clear, said Góngora. Meiner has consistently opposed resolutions that condemn racial violence, homophobia, transphobia and state and county efforts to prohibit teaching LGBTQ history in public schools. He also voted against naming a city street after gay rights leader Harvey Milk.
At a candidate forum in September, hosted by SAVE, Meiner explained his no vote was due to Milk having no connection to Miami Beach. As for the “hot button” resolutions, Meiner said the process is too time-consuming, so his policy is to always vote no, even on those addressing antisemitism.
Góngora disagrees and said now is not the time to be neutral in condemning hate.
“The mayor must be a part of all communities to represent all people,” said Góngora, who noted Meiner’s dismal attendance at LGBTQ events in the city. “I am that mayor who stands with everyone. This is the moment to fight against discrimination of any type, and I am committed to doing so.”
Góngora has lived in Miami Beach since 1992. He is an attorney who specializes in condominium and planned development law and a former three-time city commissioner. Included in his long list of endorsements are the LGBTQ Victory Fund, Equality Florida, SAVE Action Pac, Florida Sen. Shevrin Jones and Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried.
Only 242 votes separated the two candidates, who will now try to win over the 5,654 votes that went to Bill Roedy and Mike Greico. Góngora took 12 precincts, doing well in South Beach, while Meiner, won nine with a strong showing in the Bayshore neighborhood.
Voter turnout in the first round was 30%.
Out South Florida attempted to reach out to Meiner for comment, but our email request went unanswered.