First Miami Beach city commission candidate files for November election

Tanya Katzoff Bhatt is an activist, past president of Miami Beach United

The big ticket in the Miami Beach city election is going to be the mayoral race between former Commissioner Michael Góngora and former commissioner and State Rep. Michael Grieco, whose first run for the seat was interrupted by an investigation into illegal campaign finances.

It’s gonna be epic.

Góngora has raised $333,619, including $58,900 in contributions just for January, according to his latest campaign finance report. Grieco filed paperwork about a campaign account on Feb. 1. His first finance report is due in March.

But there are also three commission races on the Nov. 7 ballot.

On Wednesday, marketing and branding guru Tanya Katzoff Bhatt became the first candidate to announce that she will seek a commission seat, the one open seat to be vacated by Commissioner Ricky Arriola in Group 5.

The North Beach resident is past president of Miami Beach United, a local nonprofit that advocates for policies and political issues. She is also on the Miami Beach Planning Board and has served as a board member of the Miami Design Preservation League.

“Having worked since 2015 to ensure residents are heard at City Hall, as Commissioner I will continue to represent our neighbors and communities who together make Miami Beach one of America’s most vibrant and unique cities,” Katzoff said in a statement.

Read related: Laura Dominguez wins Miami Beach seat vacated by late commissioner

“Growing overseas has taught me that there are many approaches to find a positive outcome, a perspective that will continue to inform how I approach things,” said Katzoff, who grew up in South America and Europe, attending school at the American Schools in England and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“Integrity, independence, civility and problem-solving will guide me as I seek balance between preserving our character of place and appropriate contextual growth; keeping our city safe and welcoming; promoting the right resiliency measures for each neighborhood; and finding commonsense solutions to end gridlock both on our streets and at City Hall,” she said.

On Facebook, the communications consultant was far more excited.

So I just did a thing…kinda like a belated Valentine’s Day gesture to this city I love so much,” she posted Wednesday with a photo (above) of herself at City Hall. “After years of increased activism in and engagement with our beloved city of Miami Beach, I just filed to run for Commissioner in the open seat. As most of you know, this has been a long-held dream of mine and I’m finally putting my money (literally!) where my mouth is.

“I look forward to hearing your ideas and concerns about how to make Miami Beach even better as we move forward together,” said Katzoff, who already has a website, which says she moved to the Beach in 2003 and also lived in the mid-Beach Bayshore neighborhood before moving to Park View Island.

The other two seats on the ballot this year are in Group 2, where Commissioner Laura Dominguez won a special election last November to replace her life partner, the late Commissioner Mark Samuelian, and Group 6, where Commissioner David Richardson was elected in 2019. Neither have filed any paperwork for re-election yet.