Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber easily won reelection Tuesday night, and a significant majority of voters supported the 2 a.m. last call for alcohol on Ocean Drive, despite last minute criticism over real estate campaign contributions influencing the city election.
Gelber handily beat his four opponents by capturing 62 percent of the vote. Nearly 57 percent of Miami Beach residents also said yes to a non-binding question asking them to move up last call in the city’s Art Deco Entertainment District by three hours from 5 a.m. The overwhelming victory margins gave Gelber and his fellow city commissioners a mandate to plow ahead with the 2 a.m. proposal after a previous rollback was overturned by the courts in June.
Gelber is the 2 a.m. last call’s biggest political advocate, claiming it will help Miami Beach reign in lawlessness along the city’s most iconic oceanfront street.
Citizens for a Safe Miami Beach, a group that opposed the 2 a.m. cutoff, responded to the referendum results, saying in a statement that the move will not solve the crime problem, and will cost 4,100 local workers their jobs, increase property taxes and cut city revenue.
The mayor’s easy win caps weeks of political drama in Miami Beach. Last month, a leaked audio recording of Gelber wooing local developers to submit proposals for redeveloping Ocean Drive became a focal point of his reelection and the Ocean Drive referendum. In a nearly 10-minute clip, Gelber and former Mayor Philip Levine are heard addressing the group about supporting ballot measures for height and density increases and forming a political action committee that would raise money for city commissioners who fall in line.
The fallout resulted in mayoral opponent Ronnie Eith lodging a complaint against Gelber with the Miami-Dade ethics commission, alleging the mayor participated in the illegal solicitation of real estate developers for city commission campaign contributions.
Meanwhile, passage of the 2 a.m. last call could have serious ramifications for longtime Ocean Drive venues such as The Clevelander South Beach Hotel and Mango’s Cafe, whose owners claimed bars and restaurants will suffer from the rollback of alcohol sales.