Municipal elections can be tricky for special interests like FPL. They can try to hide, through ECO's and PAC's, but when voters are made aware of the dark money and issues at work -- especially when that money is built around dirty tricks -- there is real jeopardy to their cause.
Stoddard, a biology professor at FIU, is particularly vexing because he has learned to navigate through the dirty tricks and has been able to reach voters even when the negative campaigning slipped beneath the mainstream media radar.
A new generation of elected officials for Miami and Miami-Dade can take hope from yesterday's results.
FPL is deeply involved in south Florida politics because a meaningful profit is derived from its plans to build new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point. Thanks to a sympathetic governor and legislature, FPL customers are paying a king's ransom in "early cost recovery" for the plants.
While top FPL executives might be disinclined to stir hornet's nests in local politics, having secured state capitols and Congress, at the local level middle rank executives and hired hands are judged by successes -- including smoothing the way for local permit and zoning decisions with "early cost recovery" money.
When winning is defined as gaining the slightest advantage in siting new utility infrastructure, no FPL manager wants to be a "loser". FPL would define its goals, predictably: we don't meddle, and our only interest is providing cheap, affordable and reliable electricity for consumers and businesses according to rules and regulations established by voters, through the state legislature and Congress.
Who has the hands on those rules and regulations is what matters. FPL is deeply engaged by the process of controlling its regulatory environment. Through this lens, for top executives living in Juno Beach a municipal election in South Miami is no big deal. But for voters who care and who are engaged by the process of establishing fairness and ethics in government -- and in power supply and its features like overhead high voltage power lines -- last night's victory was a pretty good one.
Here is a brief interview with Mayor Stoddard:
EOM: Mayor Stoddard, : congratulations. This was a difficult election. Tell us about it.
Mayor Stoddard: They called it a mudslide and our opponents brought the mud. They opened nasty on December 10th with the creation of “South Miami Citizens for Good Government”, a supposedly non-partisan 501(c)(4) organization that did nothing but complain and attempt to smear candidates on one side while holding up the others as paragons of virtue.
EOM: What kind of complaining?
Mayor Stoddard: The candidates supported by FPL’s associates whined the whole time about how they were unfairly tarred as being supporters of FPL.
EOM: And what else?
Mayor Stoddard: A new organization popped up just after the last campaign report deadline (evading the finance reporting requirement), and put out 8 nasty flyers in the last week, including one that targeted my family. My daughter and wife were very displeased, as were the voters of South Miami.
We saw campaign signs stolen by a candidate himself and reports are coming in of individuals attempting to collect absentee ballots.
EOM: What conclusions would you hope that voters draw from your victory?
Mayor Stoddard: South Miami voters have become too smart to fall for these tactics. We want a civil and gracious city. We believe it’s possible for city government to be both socially responsible and and fiscally responsible and to be responsive to the needs of the residents. Today South Miami voters said loud and clear:
1. Mean people suck.
2. FPL should stay the hell out of our elections.