What do you need to pay for to get elected into office? For Miami-Dade candidates, it’s makeup sessions, rental cars, parties, photo shoots, websites and consultants, lots of consultants.

With the 2020 elections more than a year away, monthly reports show that local politicians running for office have raised thousands, sometimes stacks of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Candidates and committees are required to file reports on their campaign finances. They must keep track of all contributions, expenses, loans and transfers. Supporters can contribute up to $1,000 in county races and $3,000 for state races. In-kind contributions, such as service or items, count the same as money.

If candidates break the rules, they can be subject to penalties and fees from the Florida Elections Commission.


County Mayor

Miami-Dade mayor is the top job in the county and the race also has the biggest bankroll. County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava could sleep on an extra mattress with her $326,000 in campaign funds. She only has around $296,000 in her account, because she spent $30,000 and $350 of the overall is in-kind. Levine Cava splurged this month, spending $8,600 on advertising, a fundraising party at the Miami Beach Golf Club, campaign T-shirts and supplies.

One of her opponents, former County Commissioner Juan Zapata, once wrote a $30,000 check from county funds to cover his tuition at Harvard, reports said. He has raised the same amount for his campaign for mayor. Instead of on an Ivy League degree, this time he has spent $1,000 on email marketing, accounting services and service charges on his fundraising website in May. The third candidate in the race, Monique Nicole Barley filed on May 28 and did not have anything to report.

District 1

Two well-known people are vying for District 1. Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III officially filed his campaign documents on Jan. 10. Since then, he has raised $276,400. In May alone, Gilbert netted $8,200. He has spent $8,101 of that money. Nearly $1,587 was spent with Royal Rent A Car for transportation. He also invested $3,197 in the consulting services of BYG Strategies Inc. The owner of BYG, Brian Goldmember, lives up to his name. He has helped County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Broward County Commission Barbara Sharief rake up thousands of dollars. Gilbert has spent $46,400 of his funds so far.

Gilbert's opponent Sybrina Fulton officially entered the race on May 20. Since then she has raised $5,500 of which she has spent $249 on processing fees for The Action Network, a web platform that can be used to organize events or launch "progressive" platforms. Fulton is known nationally for her fight for justice for her son Trayvon Martin, who was killed in 2012.

District 3

There are three candidates in District 3. Temidayo Olukemi had her a goal in mind for the district for almost two years. She filed her campaign documents on Oct. 13, 2017. Yet, she has not raised a single cent, and her phone number is not active.

Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon's campaign documents were stamped on May 3, and he has raised $23,600. He used just $122 to order checks from Bank of America.

Eddie Lewis, who has run in elections before, started his bidding early. He filed his documents on October 19, 2018. He has raised $1,700.


District 9's race has a pastor, a community leader, an attorney and a state representative competing for the seat designated for the area.

State Rep. Kionne McGhee just filed his documents on June 5, so information on his campaign finances is not available. Attorney Marlon Hill is stretching toward the $100,000-mark with $85,000 in campaign contributions since filing on Feb. 8. He has spent $14,700 of it so far. About $4,800 alone has been spent in May on photoshoots, a makeup artist, a campaign kick-off party, campaign graphics, marketing, advertising and for events.

Pastors have experience in raising money. Reverend Mark Coats put his offering-collecting skills to work for his campaign. He has garnered $33,500 in campaign contributions since Feb. 2. Coats has spent more than half of it, about $20,000, already. In May, Coats spent $2,795 on the regulars: Campaign advertising, political consulting and gas for volunteers. South Bay Community Councilman Johnny Farias filed on Dec. 28, 2018 and has raised $20,000, but $900 of that are in-kind contributions. He has spent $2,772 overall. Most of which, $1,018, was spent this month on consulting and a campaign website.


District 35

The Senate race for District 35 is crowded.

Jose Larose, a serial candidate has not raised a single dollar for the race. Former State Rep. Cynthia A. Stafford has raised $8,400 out of which $300 is in-kind. She has spent $1,800 on bank fees, printing, signage and catering. Stafford filed back on March 26, 2018. Former Sen. Daphne Campbell filed her campaign documents on Jan. 8. Since then, Campbell has raised $11,340. She has spent $87 on processing fees for ActBlue, a fundraising website. Miami Gardens Councilman Erhabor Igodaro has more than double her funds with $26,500. He has dished out $875 on printing and web design.

State Rep. Shevrin Jones has led the way in the money race. Just call him the rainmaker with more than $70,000 in campaign contributions. He started his campaign on Jan. 4 and has spent $40,154. In May, he spent nearly $11,000. Jones paid political strategist Howard Willis $5,000, spent $1,400 on video production, another $1,000 on a teacher appreciation breakfast and $500 on communications. Jones also spent $2,664 on Delta Airlines for a flight labeled as "Travel House Fundraiser-Napa."

The funds covered his trip to Napa Valley to attend a Florida House Democrats' House Victory campaign committee event. The committee connects candidates with resources and vendors in order to prepare them for the election season.


District 102

District 102 has three candidates.

Former Miramar Commission hopeful Dennis Hinds filed for the seat on March 14. He has raised $147. Former Miami Gardens Councilman Felicia Robinson claimed her piece of the pie on Jan. 18. She has raised $21,200; of that, $5,400 was raised last month. Robinson has spent $1,100 of the overall collected. In May, Robinson paid $300 to Jimmy Nickerson of Jnick Management for campaign outreach services. Another contender in the race, Miami Gardens Councilman David Williams Jr., has collected $13,000. He spent $3,000 in May on the consulting services of Glenn Joseph of Munro Inc.

District 107

Ulyssess "Buck" Harvard, a familiar face in Miami Gardens politics, just filed his documents on May 31. he will be going up against Christopher Benjamin, who has raised $10,000. Benjamin has spent $1,600 of his campaign funds, including $800 on a campaign kick-off party at Stadium Hotel and $500 on campaign and fundraising websites. Benjamin started his bidding on Dec. 27, 2018. Hubert Campbell, the former husband of Sen. Daphne Campbell, filed his documents on Aug. 3, 2018 and has raised $3,000.

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