2021 Candidates

Candidates for the Coconut Grove Village Council are elected for four-year terms. An election will be held on Nov. 2, 2021, for a new council, and all eligible candidates are listed on the ballot in alphabetical order. Coconut Grove voters can vote for nine candidates.

This year, 17 people submitted their names and qualified for the ballot. After the Sept. 18 deadline for printing the ballots, three of them withdrew their names. All 17, including the three who have withdrawn, are listed below. All 17 will be on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The eligible candidates were invited to submit a brief biographical sketch and a photo. The statements below are included with their approval.

In addition, the Village West Tenants and Homeowners Association (HOATA), in cooperation with the Village Council and many other community organizations, has organized a candidate forum on Mon., Oct. 18, at 6 p.m. in Elizabeth Virrick Park, 3255 Plaza St. This will be the main opportunity for Grovites to get acquainted with the candidates in person. If you have questions for the candidates for this forum, email them by clicking here.

Hernán Guerrero Applewhite
hernan@geo-urban.com

Hernan Guerrero Applewhite

I have been a resident in 33133 for the last 10 years and of the West Grove for the last 5 years. I currently run a small urban planning and community development consulting practice, teach as a Visiting Adjunct Teaching Professor at the FIU School of Architecture and am the father of 2 children attending local public schools.
My background is in Geography, Urban Planning and Architecture. I spent a large part of my career creating digital mapping systems for cities and counties in the Northeast and developing affordable housing and revitalizing neighborhoods through historic preservation in Brooklyn. I have straddled theory and practice by working on many master plans and corridor studies locally and across the country but also assisted the construction of 3 affordable homeownership opportunities in the West Grove.
I am running because I believe our neighborhood has a lot of potential to grow and thrive while continuing to be a walkable community. How can we leverage the increased density and economic growth in Coconut Grove to spur mixed-income, mixed-use development that allows us to retain a semblance of the village character in the ‘West Grove’? As your elected member, I want to ensure that the ongoing redevelopment become a tide that allows for all boats to rise, for the collective success of Coconut Grove. I commit to listening to the community and advocating for our best interests.

As a long-time Grove resident, I recognize what a special place Coconut Grove is. My family and I are so fortunate to be able to live, work, learn and play here.
I am a successful entrepreneur and founder of 305 Cargo Services, based in downtown Coconut Grove. As a Customs Broker, I understand first-hand the consequential nature of the laws and regulations that govern much of the commercial activity in South Florida. I also recognize that laws and regulations are based on policy made by stakeholders at the local, state, and national levels.
If given the opportunity to serve on the Village Council, my promise is to be at the table where policy affecting our community is made while engaging collaboratively with all stakeholders to ensure positive community outcomes.
I have extensive management experience and am a demonstrated leader within my profession; as such, I was recognized earlier this year by the World Trade Center Miami as a Woman of the Year (2021) for my contributions to South Florida’s international business community.
Giving back is a value I’ve always lived by. An engaged and active local community creates a stronger, healthier neighborhood. I hope to work with you to address the challenges faced by residents and businesses, while protecting our beautiful and unique environment. Working together we can strive to achieve beneficial outcomes for all.

I’ve lived and worked in Miami 30+ years and been a homeowner in Coconut Grove since 2012. We raised 4 kids who attended local pre-K through high school, so I’m familiar with the Grove’s intriguing history, diverse neighborhoods, lush vegetation, local businesses, transportation, local architectural treasures and educational options.
I have no experience in local government, but my life includes experience in the U.S., Caribbean, Latin America and Asia with American Express, Mastercard, Pfizer, my own marketing company and Keyes. My roles included sales, new product development, consumer insights, process management, branding and general management with P&L responsibility. I like developing teams, so I believe these skills and my collaborative experiences will prove useful on complex Grove issues.
Why Coconut Grove Village Council now? Since I retired from corporate life in 2017 and joined my wife as a realtor, I have greater flexibility and time to contribute back to my neighbors next door and blocks away. Neighbors with whom my kids went to school, played sports and grew up with at Carver, St. Hugh, Gables and Columbus. And as a resident, there are issues that get me excited—especially neighborhood conservation and protecting families and homes from the more recent issue of short-term rentals that have broken the tranquility of homes (I helped shut down one with the support of the local Commander, Assistant City Attorney and Code Enforcement). Most importantly, I want to listen to the Grove community and help on those issues that help the most people.

Chris Baraloto
cbaraloto@fiu.edu

Chris (002)

Dr. Chris Baraloto is the Director of the International Center for Tropical Botany at The Kampong, Associate Director of the Institute of Environment and Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at FIU. He is also a Professor in France at INRAE/CNRS and in Brazil at INPA.
Chris and his family moved from French Guiana to Coconut Grove in 2015, and his children attend Coconut Grove Elementary and GW Carver Middle.
Chris is an expert in tropical biodiversity science, working to inventory tropical forest plants, fungi and insects in remote areas across Amazonia. Chris also works locally to contribute to data-driven solutions to environmental issues in our neighborhoods. A noteworthy example is the Grove ReLeaf program, which has inventoried more than 10,000 urban trees around Coconut Grove, and which is measuring eco-benefits of urban trees, including how they keep our neighborhoods cool. These data will help us to preserve trees and identify priority areas that need more trees—and also to make critical decisions about trees that may need replacement.
Chris wants to join the CGVC to help promote objective, reasonable solutions to urban development that respect the environmental benefits we all derive from our natural resources. Key among these are limiting waste such as single-use plastics, mitigating runoff into our bay, and maintaining green spaces and urban canopy cover.

Born and raised in Manhattan, I moved to Miami in 1980. During that time, I lived in Kendall and worked in Brickell and Coral Gables, spending my leisure time at many of the local hangouts like The Taurus and The Mutiny. The last time I attended the Coconut Grove Playhouse I took my mother to see Bea Arthur’s one-woman show (how’s that for a blast from the past!). I have lived in Miami for many years, witnessing the many changes that have taken place in the Grove and have always dreamed of living here. That dream finally became a reality when I moved to my home in the Douglas/Grand area in February, 2019.
My professional background is in marketing, advertising and communications. I have held senior management positions in ad agencies in New York, Chicago and Miami. During 2007-2017, I was the co-founder and COO of Hola Networks, the first online advertising network dedicated to the US Hispanic market. I am a member of the Coconut Grove Women’s Club and a prior member of the CG Chamber of Commerce. When I first moved here, I volunteered with Grace Inc. to distribute housing questionnaires. Later, during the Covid crisis, I volunteered to bring food to my West Grove neighbors and provided food to both the Thelma Gibson Health Initiative and our local “Freegerator” on Grand & Plaza.
I’m running for the CGVC board because I want to be an active member in my community. There are many issues facing this ever-changing neighborhood, and I want to serve by reaching out to our neighbors and make their voices heard. Based on my professional experience, I think I can best do this by serving on the Visibility and Civics/Park/Green committees.
Thank you for this opportunity and I hope to meet you all soon in the future.

Joseph Brown
jbgrove305@gmail.com

Joe Brown 2

I am an author, Broadway playwright, motivational speaker, corporate trainer, and international sports marketing consultant. I founded Citizens Opposing Profile Police Stops in 1995 and lobbied for H.R. 118, the 1998 Traffic Stops Statistics Act, in the 105th Congress. I have been featured in the New York Times and U.S. News and World Report, and I was part of a White House/U.S. Department of Justice problem-solving group focused on policing, working with Attorneys General Janet Reno and Eric Holder. My passion for justice comes from my relative and idol, civil rights lawyer Constance Baker-Motley, who was Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall’s law partner on major cases involving Martin Luther King and Brown vs. Board of Education.
My most important job of all is being a father to my two sons, who grew up in the Grove. Both were International Baccalaureate students at Coral Gables High School. My older son has an MBA from the University of Miami, and my younger son went to Georgia Tech and has a Bachelors from Tennessee State University. I explained to my sons that the great aim of education is not wisdom or knowledge, but action! Uplifting our youth is a necessity, as I exhibited when serving as VP of Virrick Park Executive Committee, where I brought HBO and NBA All Stars to provide a free life skills clinic to over 100 West Grove youth.
After producing NBA star Alonzo Mourning’s golf tournament in Virginia in 1999, I came to “Zo’s Groove,” Miami, and found home. The Grove has some of the best amenities in the world, while the West Grove struggles. For that reason, I’m running for election to the Village Council. I see a need for more alliances, coalitions, and collaboration, and as a member of the Village Council I will work toward that goal. I humbly ask for your support.

Pastor Michael Bryant
agape4@comcast.net

Michael Bryant

Pastor Michael Bryant was raised in Coconut Grove by loving parents who taught him the importance of serving and respecting others. His mother was a dedicated nurse’s assistant. His father was self-employed in the lawn service business for over 30 years.
Pastor Bryant attended F.S. Tucker Elementary School and graduated from Coral Gables Sr. High School. He earned two B.A. degrees in Exceptional Student Education and Theology from Union Institute University and a master’s degree in Christian Counseling from Jacksonville Baptist Theological Seminary.
Pastor Bryant is Pastor of Greater Sweetfield Missionary Baptist Church in Coconut Grove. He is President and CEO of Agape 4 Orphans International, Inc. He organized the annual “Christmas in the Grove” holiday event for the past 10 years, serving thousands of children and families. As Director of Agape Enrichment Summer Academy, sponsored by the City of Miami, the Children’s Trust, and private donors, Pastor Bryant serves children and youth with learning disabilities, autism, and special needs. Of the 17 interns he successfully mentored over the past five years, 16 currently attend universities and/or colleges in Florida and one out-of-state.
Dedicated, eager to serve, Pastor Bryant is committed to assuring all voices are heard, not just the powerful and privileged. He will work daily to pursue opportunities that will encourage all to excel.
As a member of the Coconut Grove Village Council, Pastor Bryant will advocate for ALL of Coconut Grove, with special interests of the Village West community relating to affordable housing, safer neighborhoods, social and racial justice, advocacy for special needs children, and economic stability through the creation of Coconut Grove Village West CRA..
Pastor Bryan is supported by current Village Council members Mrs. Linda Williams and Mr. Thaddeus Scott, the Coconut Grove Ministerial Alliance, the Coconut Grove Optimist Foundation, Inc., and Agape 4 Orphans International, Inc. 

Sacha DuBearn

Sacha DuBearn is no longer a candidate for the Coconut Grove Village Council even though his name will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Marcelo Fernandes
marcelo@GroveProperties.com

Marcelo head Shot (002)

Bio
I have spent a lifetime in Coconut Grove.  
I graduated from Ransom Everglades High School in 1984. 
I have a child that attended Coconut Grove Elementary and Ransom Everglades. 
Married to Kellie Henley (20 years) with 2 kids – Maya (16) and Deshay (22). 
My profession: Owner/Broker of Grove Properties, real estate brokerage; Partner, Oxford Design & Build, developer and general contractor.
Efforts and Accomplishments 
Family-owned business since 1980 in Miami—focused on green and sustainable construction. 
I consider myself a Miami 21 zoning code and NCD expert and actively pursue changes to preserve the Grove but still encourage smart development. 
Created GP Cares program at Grove Properties. We donate a minimum of $300 for each closing to a local charity. 
Co-founded ARC+ the nonprofit architectural resource collaborative with the FIU School of Architecture  to educate students on sustainable building concepts. 
A Board of Trustees member for Miami Waterkeeper. 
I write blogs about sustainable building and preserving the Grove. 
Chair of Coconut Grove Village Council from 2017-2021. 
Successfully appealed many tree removal permits. 
Very active with many issues at City Commission meetings and regulations. 
Dedicated hundreds of hours of research to organize efforts to protect and preserve life in our Village .
As a member of the CGVC I want to
Finish the efforts to revise the NCD zoning and building codes and Playhouse project. 
Continue to support all of Grove 2030’s initiatives especially ,mobility within the Grove. 
Bring affordability to housing in the Grove—homeownership and rentals. 
Encourage business growth in the Grove that supports residents and local businesses .
Advocate changes to the NCD regulations and sustainable new developments. 
Encourage more youth programs by utilizing more resources available in the Grove.

Rose Fountain
rosefountain87@gmail.com

rose fountain

I am a retired resident of Coconut Grove Village West, but I spend as much time as possible as a community volunteer. I grew up here, and my family resides here. I am a graduate of Coral Gables High School, and I have studied at both Florida International University and Keiser University, focusing on community structures, political science, and policies affecting minority communities related to housing, education, family structures, and community organizing.
During the past 40 years, I have spent much of my time as a community activist. This includes community groups, committees, organizations, and businesses. I believe we come together as a community through strong leadership that emphasizes cooperation. My goals on the Village Council will be the preservation of Village West, the completion of Grand Plaza, and improvement of Grand Ave.
My experience has helped me in teaching English to foreign students and English as a Second Language in grades K-12 throughout Miami-Dade County. I care deeply about our community and its people, and I look forward to serving it as a member of the Village Council.

Coconut Grove is an economically robust, diverse, and flourishing Village. As a candidate for this seat, my experience as a local small business owner and real estate agent will allow me to provide innovative ideas for the community.
I have previously served as the chairperson of the Coconut Grove Village Council (2013-2017) and my priority while I held the position was to increase collaboration and cohesiveness with local, county and state officials while creating awareness for residents on projects and issues within the community, such as the Grove Playhouse, Grove 2030, Grand Ave enhancements and Neighborhood Conservation District (NCD) revisions.
My real estate expertise will add to the Council a deep understanding of local zoning laws that can be used to address housing affordability, tree canopy and land use concerns of residents.
I have served as a condo association president of a 238-unit building, which gives me a unique perspective of the priorities for residents, and, as an entrepreneur for over 35 years, I am certain that I will add value to the Council in assisting local businesses prosper.
I was raised in Coconut Grove, attending local public schools, and this community is personal to me and my wife of 38 years.
You may ask why I’m running for the Council and my answer is simple. I care about this community, and I feel that I can be an asset to ensure the continued success of Coconut Grove and all its residents.
Thank you for the opportunity.

Yilda "Jill" Lansing
yelansing@gmail.com

lansing 3

I've been a South Florida resident since 1986 and a Grovite for 10 years. After graduating high School in San Juan, Puerto Rico, I moved to Miami to attend International Fine Arts College and received an associate degree in Fine arts and Fashion Merchandising.
I worked two years as a fashion merchandiser for Burdines Mayfair before becoming a purser for a major American airline. For 30-plus years I've worked in flight service to assist travelers from Miami to Europe, South America and the Caribbean. From 2000-2011, I was an advertising agency office manager.
The Grove is a vibrant, eclectic, nature oasis in the heart of the Magic City. Such a fantastic utopia must be carefully and pragmatically maintained. Some of  the issues/challenges in our community, in no particular order, are: balanced development, affordable housing, low crime rate, the Grove Playhouse, gridlock, and Biscayne Bay fish kill.
I am running to preserve all the wonderful aspects of the Grove. As a woman who grew up in the area, I serve and attend St. Hugh Catholic Church. I engage with the people I meet, hear their stories, and always look for a way to help.
As a Council member, I will seek to help local businesses start, grow and thrive, while promoting affordable housing and safety to all of our diverse citizens and visitors. I'm truly excited at the opportunity to face all of the challenges that becoming a Council member would bring.
Thank you for your vote.

Casey Luaces tackles projects by opening lines of communication between parties to identify and resolve key issues in order to achieve desired goals. Casey has over 20 years of experience working the South Florida real estate development environment, with extensive experience in the areas of architecture, construction management and development. Casey has played a key role in successfully delivering large-scale complex projects, while collaborating with both public and private entities. Additionally, Casey’s educational background is comprised of a degree in Architecture from Florida International University, followed by an MBA from the University of Florida. While at FIU, Casey participated in Journey of Hope, in which he personally fundraised over $5,000 and rode a bicycle 4,000 miles across the United States in order to raise awareness and support for people with disabilities.
Casey plans to bring this accumulated knowledge and general know-how to the Coconut Grove Village Council. As a life-long Miami native and Coconut Grove resident for the past three years, Casey understands our history and intends on reaching out to the 33133 community to further dig into the issues that truly impact our daily lives. It is important that any new projects or improvements benefit our village residents, not just visitors who come to enjoy it.
In addition to his professional ambitions, Casey enjoys long-distance running through the Grove, landscaping/planting at his home on Lime Court (and throughout the neighborhood) as well as spending quality time with his wife Christy, daughter Lucia and their Italian Greyhounds, Palmer and Penelope. 

Alejandra Rondon is the Miami Regional Director at Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE). At LEE, she supports a diverse movement of leaders to engage civically in Miami. 

Alejandra was born in Caracas, Venezuela and immigrated to the United States with her family when she was five. She received her bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Florida. After graduation, she moved to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, where she received a master’s degree in economic development. In 2013, after nearly four years of living in Spain, Alejandra moved to Miami, which she now considers home. She has loved living in the West Grove with her partner since January of 2020. 

Alejandra is running for Village Council because she wants to ensure that concerns of West Grove residents, particularly those related to housing and affordability, as well as accessible public spaces, are addressed at Council meetings and committees. In addition to participating in the committee for Housing and Zoning Issues (focusing on affordable housing and zoning), Alejandra is eager to be a part of the Transportation committee (focusing on the “Shared Pathways: Reimagining Mobility in Coconut Grove” report) and the Civic/Cultural Life/Parks/Green Spaces committee (promoting sustainability and green initiatives, increased awareness of West Grove’s history and heritage, as well as tree canopy). 

Alejandra believes that collective action rooted in care for one another and our environment is what will allow Coconut Grove to remain the welcoming, safe, beautiful, and creative place that it has been and is today.

Caroline Saiz

Caroline Saiz is no longer a candidate for the Coconut Grove Village Council even though her name will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Corey Schwartz

Corey Schwartz is no longer a candidate for the Coconut Grove Village Council even though his name will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Anthony Witherspoon
awleadershipprep.org@gmail.com

Witherspoon

I am excited and proud to announce my candidacy for the Coconut Grove Village Council. I was raised in West Coconut Grove from the age of two, with a sense of pride and respect for my community. Growing up, I interacted with ministers, educators, and community leaders from an early age, a practice that guided and inspired me to help others to become the best they can be. My focus is on helping to develop sustainable, healthy community through leadership, business development and economic change.
I will work with all to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion to ensure our community is a safe and socially just environment for all who live here. If elected, I would like to serve on the Civic, Cultural Life, Parks, and Green Spaces Committee. My platform will be built on Service Leadership: Heart to Serve + Call to Lead + Courage to Engage = Service Leadership
Additional bio
Entrepreneur, College Instructor, Athletic/Fitness Coach, Leadership Life Coach.
Founder/CEO- Leadership Prep Foundation Inc. (A Youth Leadership Org.)
In 2015, Founded the Coconut Grove Sports Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony and 2020 Hall of Fame Museum Curator, recognizing West Coconut Grove residents of Bahamian and African-American descent who have exemplified outstanding sports accomplishments and achievements in their professional and personal life.
Owner/GM of soon to open “Taste of Coco-Bahamas” Entertainment & Food Venue located in West Grove.
Special Congressional Recognition for Invaluable Service to the Community presented by the late Congressman John Lewis.