After a late withdrawal, the race for an open Biscayne Park commission seat is down to two residents.
Harvey Bilt and Daniel Samaria are the two remaining candidates in Tuesday’s special election, made necessary after Vice Mayor David Coviello announced in December he would be resigning on March 31 with 19 months left in his term.
MacDonald Kennedy, who withdrew on March 12, said he did so because he believes infighting on the current commission makes it difficult to get anything done.
“There is a contingent of not-forward-thinking and progressive people right now who just can’t get out of their own way and keep stumbling over themselves,” he said. “I’m not inviting the nastiness of trying to help Biscayne Park get its s–t together into my life right now.”
Samaria said the bickering between the village’s leaders gives the impression that commissioners are not listening to the residents.
“I think a lot of times they don’t listen to the residents,” Samaria said. “Their intentions are good, but I think we’re just not living within our means, so I think that I can make a difference here.”
Bilt, an 18-year resident, agreed that there is much to do and touted his ability to find common-ground compromises as for why he is best suited for the job. He has served on the code enforcement board and the code review board.
“Sometimes, that’s what you have to do,” he said. “You have no option, you have to reach some sort of consensus.”
Samaria, who has been a resident for 10 years and served as the chairman of the recreational advisory board for six years, said he moved to Biscayne Park because he wanted to be involved in the small community. He said he wants to improve transparency between the commission and the public.
“We need to increase the level of communication between the residents, commissioners and administration. I don’t think we have that right now, I think it’s very bad,” Samaria said.
Both Bilt and Samaria said they would also like to see more long-term thinking from the commissioners. For Samaria, this planning would be reflected in budget planning, and for Bilt it would be in creating easy-to-understand local laws.
“We have passed some ordinances that are very, very difficult to understand,” Bilt said. “My thought is [that] codes need to be much, much clearer, very easily understood and enforced throughout the village evenly.”
The two also agree on a need for an increased police presence in making the community feel safe, and for more reserve officers.
Polls will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Village Hall, 640 NE 114th St., Biscayne Park.