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Miami Beach Mayoral Debate Won By Comedian

October 17, 2011 By Matt Meltzer in Miami: Local News  | 4 Comments


Only in Miami Beach does a mayoral debate come complete with an open bar and a celebrity after-party.

Dave Crystal, Steve Berke, Laura Levey and incumbent Matti Bower all took the stage at the venerable Colony Theater on Lincoln Road Tuesday. All poised to debate the major issues currently facing our city.

Before the debate began, attendees were served complimentary vodka cocktails in the theater’s lobby, along with gourmet pizza bites. Because no event in this city is complete without alcohol and jazzed-up junk food.

The alcohol would prove crucial in keeping the debate interesting.

Once the event began, it became very clear this wasn’t going to be all that much of a debate. The moderator actually prefaced the event by saying,

“This isn’t so much a debate, but a chance for you to get to know the candidates.”

This greatly displeased the lubed-up crowd. At one point, as Mayor Bower was trying to explain her actions with the recent pension credit scandal, a man from the audience yelled “I thought this was supposed to be a debate!” The audience cheered him on.

No candidates came out with any groundbreaking positions. Everyone agreed Urban Beach Weekend needed to end, although much like in the town hall meetings no concrete solutions were proposed. Everyone also agreed that the city needed to cut the pensions of fire and police forces. But these were hardly controversial issues.

The male candidates favored the decriminalization of marijuana (though Crystal was quick to point out that was not an issue a mayor had power over) while the ladies disagreed. Everyone but Berke came out against gambling in the Beach. Berke said he felt we should let the citizens decide, a marked switch from his original pro-casino stance. He must have heard the applause from the crowd when Bower came out against it.



If this election were to be purely based on debate performance, Matti Bower would hardly stand a chance. She came across as old and a little confused, often times not hearing questions and coming out with predictably last-generation positions on things like gambling and marijuana.

Dave Crystal was definitely the most knowledgeable candidate, and appeared to have the best vision for the city. But his aggressive style made him come off a little too eager. Like that guy who seems to have a lot going for him, but comes on way too strong and never gets laid. Miami Beach is a hot chick, Dave. You gotta approach her coolly, like you’ve been there before.


Nobody knew who Laura Levey was before the debate. And all we learned about her during it was that she was a mother of five. She managed to work this fact into every response she gave. Like “As a mother of five, yes, I do believe police pensions are too high.” And “As a mother of five, I like popcorn.”  I’m not sure I can vote for someone who hasn’t learned that nobody cares about your kids.

Stever Berke, the comedian, came across as the voice of reason in the debate. He answered questions like most people in the audience would, occasionally asking the moderator “What kind of question is that?” He also asked the same rhetorical questions much of the crowd was asking. Such as “Isn’t this supposed to be a debate?” and “Are we supposed to disagree and say Urban Beach Weekend is a good thing?”

If you could declare a winner, it was probably Berke. So he took his victory west on Lincoln to Haven Luonge, for what he called his “victory party.” In typical Berke fashion, there was no shortage of models walking around. And even LeBron James and Dwayne Wade decided to take advantage of their time off and attend. And while Berke seemed to be the most relaxed and relatable candidate at the debate, it still seemed incomprehensible that he can beat a popular incumbent like Bower.

But when asked, he seemed optimistic.

“There’s only gonna be 7000 people voting in this election,” Berke told us at the party. “I’ve already got 1000 absentee votes coming in for me. If I can get another one or two thousand, I think I can win this thing.”


Photos and video by Carlos Miller

Related Categories: Miami: Local News,

About the Author: Matt Meltzer is a featured columnist at Miami Beach 411.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer

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4 Comments on

"Miami Beach Mayoral Debate Won By Comedian"

Mario says:

I was hoping Steve Berke would bring the super sexy sax-man for the finale.

Posted on 10/23/2011 at 2:35 AM

jess says:

Hilarious and interesting Matt, thanks. Enjoyed the 5 kids comment. I doubt that will win over the South Beach crowd, no one has kids here to relate.

I like Steve Berke’s position on MDW. I have received a lot of mail from him saying he will end the hip hop weekend in just one year. I didn’t realise he was pro gambling though.

It’s like picking the best of a bad bunch after your article. But I’m still going to use my vote.

Posted on 10/24/2011 at 10:30 AM

Tommy Madison says:

Berke had me at…... no more memorial weekend thugs lol   wink  looking forward to Steve as our next mayor!

Posted on 10/25/2011 at 5:04 AM

Matt Meltzer says:

Steve seems like he might actually do a good job, but I’m not sure I like his chances. We forget that the voting block in Miami Beach resides mostly north of South Beach. And that’s a lot of older people and families. Aka Matti Bower people. Also, I see Berke and Crystal splitting a lot of the younger vote.

But who knows. In Miami Beach, anything can happen.

Posted on 10/25/2011 at 4:27 PM

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