If you think the Republican primaries have been wild, consider South Miami.
This year’s loveless Valentine’s Day election has been full of accusations and even some name-calling, but it’s just another campaign season in the city of 12,000 with a penchant for big political drama — where a mayor was once arrested in city hall on the eve of an election and currently an ex-convict is running for commission.
Also this election season, biology-professor-turned-mayor Philip Stoddard is fending off accusations that he contaminated the city’s drinking water, fixed his students’ grades and — perhaps the most off-the-wall — that he’s a drug dealer.
It gets nuttier, with candidate Bob Welsh (a.k.a. Bicycle Bob or Bobnoxious) under attack from pretty much everyone besides the two commission hopefuls running against him in the Group 3 race.
Oh, and then there’s that ex-convict. More on that later.
Running to keep his seat, Stoddard, 53, soft-spoken and bespectacled, faces a challenge from a former South Miami mayor and former state representative, Julio Robaina (no relation to the Hialeah politician of the same name.). Robaina, 50, was mayor from 1998 to 2002, state representative from 2002 to 2010and now co-owns a property management company.
Stoddard has had to defend the pond that he, a Florida International University fish researcher, and his wife, an architecture professor at the same university, dug in their backyard prior to his becoming mayor. An ad that recently flooded voters’ mailboxes claims the pond could be “contaminating your drinking water and endangering your health” because it was dug without a permit.
The mailer says it was paid for by Floridians for Ethical and Responsible Government, but the entity isn’t registered with the city, as the Florida statutes require.
More from Christina Veiga here.