Surfside Voter Guide

The election for Surfside is on March 20, 2018. Polls are open from 7:00am to 7:00pm. Voting will take place at the Town Hall Commission Chambers, 9293 Harding Avenue.

The Town of Surfside, Florida is a Commission-Manager form of government. The Legislative Department consists of the Mayor, Vice Mayor and three Town Commissioners. The Mayor and City Commission serve for a term of two years. The Town Commission makes four critically important appointments on behalf of the Town and provides oversight to those appointments. The appointments are:

  1. Town Attorney,
  2. Town Board members,
  3. Town Manager, and
  4. the Town’s external auditor.

The powers and responsibilities of the Town Commission designated in the Town Charter include, among others:

  1. Appointments,
  2. Establishing administrative departments through the adopted budget,
  3. Levying taxes and assessments,
  4. Authorizing bond issuance,
  5. Adopting and modifying the official Town map,
  6. Regulating development consistent with governing laws,
  7. Addressing neighborhood development,
  8. Granting public utility franchises,
  9. Providing for an employee pension plan,
  10. Monitoring administrative services through the Town Manager,
  11. Appointing interim Commissioners in the event of a vacancy of office, and
  12. Providing Town ceremonies.
 

MAYOR

DANIEL_DIETCH_Surfside

DANIEL DIETCH

  • Why are you running for office and what qualities, training, experience and skills do you bring to this position?

I learned from my parents that you “make the community you want to live in.”  With this sensibility, I became involved in Surfside by serving in various capacities including our Planning & Zoning and Design Review Boards, which I had the privilege to chair.  From that vantage point I saw an opportunity to make a difference as an elected policy maker.  This led to my first campaign for Mayor in 2010.  I feel there is still work to be done championing sensible policies and further strengthening our sense of community and security in Surfside. That is why I am running for re-election.

My academic training as a geologist and anthropologist, with advanced degrees in environmental management and business administration, benefits me as Mayor.  For the last 20+ years as an environmental scientist, I’ve helped municipal and commercial clients achieve success by defining problems, interpreting data and crafting and implementing appropriate and balanced solutions.  Personal qualities that help me as Mayor include a clear understanding of my core values, empathy, a balanced temperament, unwavering character, a commitment to treating people fairly and being collaborative and solutions-oriented.

  • What are the 3 most important issues facing your community? For each concern, how do you propose to mitigate/improve/resolve the issue?

Strengthening our Sense of Community can mitigate many of the stresses on our community.  We are living in polarizing times that can needlessly degrade the fabric of our community.  As an elected official, it is critically important to set the tone for collaborative engagement.  We are fortunate to have many talented and committed residents that provide valuable insights that influence good public policy.  Encouraging civic engagement and fostering positive discourse is clearly the right path.  Initiatives such as the community garden and dog park to community programming that engages all segments of our community helps us to connect with our neighbors and come together in common purpose to enhance and celebrate our shared love of Surfside.

Climate Change is a generational issue that is both local and global in scale and requires an understanding of the underlying issues and leveraging relationships with thought leaders, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations to implement practical solutions.  It is important to raise public awareness through community programs and events such as our Earth Day Celebration, beach clean-ups and dune plantings that educate our residents about the urgency of their engagement.  One initiative well underway is securing the financial support of the Federal, State and County governments to complete a Town-wide beach re-nourishment project that is critically important to protect the “front-line” of our Town from sea level rise and storm surge.  Other initiatives include strengthening our zoning regulations, incentivizing solar photovoltaic panel usage on homes/businesses, banning the use of plastic straws, enhancing our tree canopy and reducing our reliance on vehicles through walkability initiatives enables us to work collectively as active participants towards lasting solutions.

Vehicular Traffic is impacting our quality of life.  There are many causes, some are within our control and some are not.  It is important that we continue our traffic mitigation program that is informed by the work of our citizen traffic advisory committee and engagement by our residents.  Future initiatives include finding the most practical way to separate vehicular and pedestrian movement to enhance public safety, traffic calming devices that make Surfside less attractive to “cut-through traffic” along with enhanced enforcement for speeders and large trucks that use our local streets.  Also important is improving governmental agency coordination and communication with residents when the State authorizes lane closures on 96th Street and Collins and Harding Avenues.

 
Victor_May_Surfside

VICTOR MAY

  • Why are you running for office and what qualities, training, experience and skills do you bring to this position?

After Putin won elections in 2000, my wife and I decided to immigrate from Russia. Our families suffered a lot from KGB agents like him. At first, we headed to Canada. In 2003, we won Green Card Lottery and moved to New Jersey with our youngest son. After his entrance to Pace University in NY, we relocated to Miami, Sunny Isles, Hollywood and finally bought a house in Surfside in 2012.

We adore Surfside. It’s paradise. We intend to spend the rest of our lives here.

In 2016, I ran for the Mayor of Surfside. It was tough to compete with the present Mayor who is running for the 5th term now.

I was the Chair in my community in Russia and have experience to implement complex problems. For example, we laid plastic water pipes into the ground 7 ft deep because of frost in 1998. There haven’t been any incidents since.

For the last two years, I tried to contribute to the community, a Personnel Appeal Board Member, fighting against unfair excessive code compliance fines exceeding $400,000 with unlimited $15k fines a day and liens on property. I managed to convince commissioners to terminate the Red Light Control Contract because it was mostly in favor of a vendor and spoiled the town’s reputation.

I can be more useful to the town because I am retired, 56 years old, mostly free and have enough time to devote myself to Surfside. Foreign rental income. We have successful 2 sons, 2 daughters and 3 grandsons.

I have the best education in politics and business. I graduated from the most prestigious Moscow State University of International Relations, like Yale, Harvard or Princeton Universities with two foreign languages Sinhalese and English, a professional Diplomat. I passed training and internship in Finland as a Risk Manager under European Common Wealth Program. I am fluent in web mastering and utilize state-of-the-art technologies.

I served 3 years in the Navy on a big warship as a helmsman. I will never leave the town in danger.

Surfside has many potentials to be an excellent town with the warm ocean, mild climate, the best beach, beautiful parks. We must be proud of heritage from founders. But everything is aging, unfortunately…70 year old posts, harm waves emitting wires, unnecessary phone landlines, cables, abandoning houses out of pace business area.

  • What are the 3 most important issues facing your community? For each concern, how do you propose to mitigate/improve/resolve the issue?

My platform is based on three main priorities 1) Transparency 2) Security 3) Office reform in favor of residents of Surfside, businesses, not developers and lobbyists, to create project managers for gated community, wire undergrounding, the beach, solar grid system. As well as to lower costs, taxes, new better services and jobs. To pay special attention to elder people needs, perspectives for kids in order to save them from drugs, computer games, in-breathe confidence, hope and willingness to succeed.

The goals are to build a friendly community, to be transparent in finances, expenses and bills, to upgrade town property, to invest into the beach, solar system, electric underground grid, high school, social events with minimal burden for residents and more cooperation with neighbors.

Democracy matters … Dictatorship is unacceptable …

 

town comission 

Barry_Cohen_Surfside

BARRY COHEN

  • Why are you running for office and what qualities, training, experience and skills do you bring to this position?

I have been in Surfside public service for more than 40 years as chairman of the Planning and Zoning Board from 1988 to 1992. I fought to deny developers and Town leader’s request to raise the height limits to more than 20 stories high. This was the most important decision Surfside ever faced. It prevented Surfside from becoming a concrete Canyon like many of our neighbors.  

This decision defines what Surfside is today as an Award-winning up uptown beach maintaining with its Small town feel, widely recognized as one of the top two most desirable towns in the country to live.

As the leader of the Charret in the early 2000s, with the involvement of my neighbors, we created the vision of what Surfside is today, an uptown Beach town with world-class hotels restaurants and Luxury Condominiums.

These experiences make me uniquely qualified to serve on the town Commission for the next two years.

  • What are the 3 most important issues facing your community? For each concern, how do you propose to mitigate/improve/resolve the issue?

I always say there are no problems, there are only solutions.   I maintain this position regarding the areas of Safe Streets and Town Security. Insufficient parking in the business district end around town hall, this results in traffic congestion and the incursion of traffic into our residential areas. Trash traffic congestion can be mitigated, improved and resolved by increasing parking in the business district so cars are not blocking traffic while looking for a parking space on the streets.

Another area of concern are the high vacancies and rental rates in the business district, this is the result of insufficient office and retail supply in the face of increasing demand.  I support the projects being considered by the town to increase the amount of retail space in the business district and Town Hall. This will provide a supply of all levels of retail space from mom-and-pop stores, complimentary retail product and office space so that we can live work and play in Surfside.

 
Daniel_Gielchinsky_Surfsie

DANIEL GIELCHINSKY

  • Why are you running for office and what qualities, training, experience and skills do you bring to this position?

I am running for re-election to the Surfside Commission to provide leadership and a voice to the many young families who have moved to Surfside over the recent years. Since I moved to Surfside in 2011, I have served as Town Commissioner for two years, the Vice-Chair of the Surfside Coastal Issues Committee and in senior leadership positions with The Shul, Greater Miami Jewish Federation, Miami Beach Eruv Council and the Dade County Bar Association. I am an experienced and highly regarded attorney, and practiced land use and zoning law for over a dozen years, representing municipalities, developers and residents in connection with various development issues. That experience has made me an invaluable asset to the Surfside Commission. I have the vision and know-how to help make sure that Surfside offers the best living experience for its community, now and for years to come.

  • What are the 3 most important issues facing your community? For each concern, how do you propose to mitigate/improve/resolve the issue?

I am focused on one primary issues – the “streetscapes” project, which involves under-grounding the overhead utility lines, retrofitting sidewalks on a one-way street system and planting shade trees in our residential district. This project, which has progressed farther under my tenure that ever before, is designed to promote walkability and safety in our town. We have learned the hard lessons that our reliance on the automobile and fossil fuels has had on our economy, our social patterns and physical and emotional well-being. It is time that we helped changed the paradigm and helped people change their habits when it comes to local commuting and trips by giving our residents and safe, walkable and enjoyable environment that will promote walking and cycling in our town. 

Another challenge facing our town is obviously traffic, which is a regional issue. We cannot eliminate traffic on Collins Ave and Harding Ave, but we can discourage and reduce incursion traffic into our residential area by creating a one-way system. Every reputable traffic study that has ever examined this issue concludes that one-way street systems reduce and slow traffic and confound drivers who are not familiar with the area.  Bottom line, this system will make our streets safer and significantly reduce cut-through traffic by non-Surfside residents.

 
MICHAEL_KARUKIN_Surfside

MICHAEL KARUKIN

  • Why are you running for office and what qualities, training, experience and skills do you bring to this position?

I am running for office because I enjoy helping people navigate the complexities of municipal government. Scott Paine from the Florida League of Cities once mentioned that commissioners are the face of government and for many, it is the only place people can go to when they want or need something done that a bureaucracy can’t or won’t resolve.

My 8 years experience as a commissioner and 30 years experience as a clinical research professional in the pharmaceutical industry demonstrates my ability to research issues, synthesize information, build a census, or challenge others when appropriate, and allows me to make educated, well informed decisions. 

The other reason why I am running is because it’s fun. And I get to work (for 1 dollar per year) with colleagues who perhaps are enjoying it more than me. I also get to work with a staff that understands the value of public service and I have the deepest respect for every one of the hard working men and women of Surfside. A great commission and a great staff can only mean one thing. The future is very bright for Surfside.

  • What are the 3 most important issues facing your community? For each concern, how do you propose to mitigate/improve/resolve the issue?

This is a tough question because I completely understand what might be important to some can be totally unimportant to others.  I’ve conducted my own surveys and I can tell you first hand it is hard to agree on priorities. 

In my 2012 survey, the number one priority was the water/sewer/storm water infrastructure project.  The number 2 priority back then was a plan for under-grounding power and cable lines. There is no doubt in my mind that if I were to repeat that survey today, under-grounding powerlines would come out as number 1. 

To that end, here’s what has to be done. First secure the old plans from 2013. Next, the commission needs to authorize a study to determine the cost of an under-grounding project (this is not inexpensive). Since this is a regional issue, not just a Surfside issue, collaboration with our neighbors should also be explored as well as exploring how renewable options like solar technologies can be integrated into the project. If things move forward, the next step will be the hiring of bond counsel, a financial advisor and a consultant to do a cost estimate validation. Throughout this process, town meetings and workshops will be held, FAQ’s produced and in all likelihood a referendum will be needed. This is not an overnight process. 

It seems, based on social media, the second most important issue facing our community is beach management.  This issue has consumed so much time and energy but unfortunately we have not yet solved this one. Based on our experiences over the past 2 years I think the only way to resolve this issue is to get the attention of the correct regulatory authorities who are the only ones who can give Surfside the legal authority to manage our portion of a public beach. 

At number 3 is a decision on a parking structure. And you can’t talk about parking without talking about traffic. This issue has vexed the town for decades but it has percolated to the top 3 issues facing our community because of a series of unsolicited proposals submitted to the town.  Decisions will be made in the not too distant future. To me it is game changer for Surfside so in my mind, when it gets to a certain point in the decision making process, when all the details and options are known, I think it should go to a referendum even if it does not have to.

 
Tina_Paul_Surfside

TINA PAUL

  • Why are you running for office and what qualities, training, experience and skills do you bring to this position?

I am running for re-election after completing my first term as a Commissioner for Town of Surfside. While serving in office, I formed relationships with town staff and residents, studied procedure, Town codes and the inner workings of our municipality. The motivation to run and seek re-election  to continue service emanated from my involvement with Historic Preservation and our challenging Beach Issues. Surfside is where my childhood home was and my aesthetics were formed. Studying art and working as a photojournalist in New York City cultivated my political ideals. In life, I learned diplomacy, respect, compassion, objectivity, courage and strength to strive for what is right and true. Humane characteristics are necessary to maintain balance within the community. I bring and independent perspective and care about the issues people face.

  • What are the 3 most important issues facing your community? For each concern, how do you propose to mitigate/improve/resolve the issue?

The three most important issues in our community are quality of life issues.

  1. Neighborhood Traffic Incursions - Cut-through traffic in the neighborhood of Surfside has been an ongoing problem, accelerated by the different apps for shortcuts. Dialogue and review of the situation has occurred with no attainable solutions. Recently, I proposed having more effective signage and various speed bumps, as well as traffic officers to re-direct vehicles and/ or issue tickets.
  2. Over-development - Our paradise has become very attractive to development interests. This can be good if it is balanced with appreciation for our past and consideration for our tranquil environment. Development must be sensitive to our community and held accountable to the residents and businesses who invest their lives here. My intention is to safeguard the peaceful charm of our town by strengthening our zoning codes.
  3. Beach Management - Aside from beach erosion and sea level rise, an alarming trend is encroaching our beautiful, pristine public beaches. Surfside's greatest asset is its seaside lifestyle. The rise of luxury development has caused partial privatization of our Public Beach. Resolving this issue requires fairness through capacity limitations on beach furniture. Additional consequences of this excessive commercial activity has caused increased littering, endangering our natural wildlife habitat. Proper regulation is overdue and necessary. I proposed solutions to our town administration and will continue my efforts to gain consensus among our Commission.
 
ELI_TOURGEMAN_Surfside

ELI TOURGEMAN

  • Why are you running for office and what qualities, training, experience and skills do you bring to this position?

In the past 30 years i have proven to be a leader in Surfside with many accomplishments during  my time in elected office; Mayor, Vice-Mayor and Commissioner TO NAME A FEW….

  • Spearheaded the removal of construction debris on our beaches and replaced with clean white sand
  • Voted for the reduction of the millage to lower taxes
  • Bring a business person to the mix
  • Demanded accountability n transparency  of expenses to the taxpayers
  • Participated very successfully in the committee to reduce our flood premiums thru acceptance from FEMA
  • Created the Tot lot at 90th Street and Hawthorne
  • Initiated the beautification  project in the business district landscaping
  • Initiated Parents Hunts for Art program in coordination with Ruth K. Broad Elementary School
  • Established Bank Bucks dollars program with RKB elementary to improve in absenteeism
  • Established Silver Sneaker program for seniors fitness
  • Established every child a swimmers program
  • Initiated Light Up Surfside program during the holidays awarding homeowners of cash prizes for the best display of lights during the holidays.

And many other initiatives to lengthy to list.

  • What are the 3 most important issues facing your community? For each concern, how do you propose to mitigate/improve/resolve the issue?
  • Continue to reduce the millage thru better allocation of revenues and expenses
  • Traffic circulation and pedestrian friendly proposals
  • Enhance police presence in the residential area as well as the business district
  • Under-grounding of power lines
  • Develop policies on sea level rise solutions