Miami Beach Attorney Running for Commissioner

by Denise Royal

EDGE Southeast Regional Editor

Sunday March 8, 2009

Michael Gongora is throwing his hat into the ring. Miami Beach's first openly gay commissioner plans to run for election again. A seat will be up for grabs later this year because Commissioner Saul Gross is leaving due to term limits.

Gongora served one term from 2005-07. He was the first (and his words the only) openly gay person to be elected to the Miami Beach Commission. To his knowledge, Gongora is the only openly gay Hispanic to win an elected seat in Florida.

In November 2007, he lost a reelection bid to Ed Tobin. But this time, he plans to win. Gongora tells EDGE that his candidacy is about redemption and service to the community.

"My dedication to public service is so great, and my will to make a positive difference in my city so strong, that I am willing to embark on what will be a very long and tough campaign to return to the City Commission," he said.

In December 2006, Gongora was elected as president of the Miami Beach Bar Association, a sixty-year-old voluntary bar association of Miami Beach attorneys.

During his tenure, he re-opened the Miami Beach Bar Association pro bono Law Clinic in North Beach providing free legal services to low income residents.

Prior to being elected Commissioner in 2006, Gongora had served in numerous civic, charitable, business and legal communities throughout Miami-Dade County. He served as member of the City's Zoning Board of Adjustment and Design Review Board.

Gongora's other civic, charitable, business and in-kind legal activities include service as Legal Advisor to CAMACOL, the Latin American Chamber of Commerce of the USA.

He was also elected as President of the Miami Beach Latin Chamber of Commerce from 2001 to 2003 and now chairs the Advisory Board of Directors.

Never turning away from an opportunity to serve, last year Gongora was elected as Chairman of ECOMB (Environmental Coalition of Miami Beach) a group which is instrumental in keeping the city clean and green-friendly.

In 2007, Gongora created and chaired the City's first ever Green Committee focusing on sustainability issues including energy conservation and recycling.

Primary Election Day in Miami Beach is November 3, 2009. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote then a run-off election between the top two vote getters will occur on November 17, 2009.

Gongora is looking forward to Election Day 2009. "I was very honored and humbled to be elected before and be the first openly gay Commissioner. There is still much work remaining to be done in our community," he said.

Denise Royal is an award-winning journalist with more than 15 years of experience. in television news. She has worked for local television stations in New York City, Miami, West Palm Beach, Rochester, New York and Syracuse, New York.

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