Grassroots Miami candidate takes early lead in Florida House race (Podcast)

Florida State House Candidate Cindy Polo (D-103)

Polo leads Republican nominee Frank Mingo outright, 32–28 percent. Polo has raised just $17,345 and spent $5,579 since filing for the seat in late March compared to $108,378 raised and $44,338 spent for Mingo.

Cindy Polo is a grassroots candidate out to prove that Democrats want locals who live in their districts, and who will represent them rather than function as just another cog in Florida’s political machinery.

Cindy Polo answers questions live on the radio for 30 minutes in this podcast.
Florida House candidate Cindy Polo (D-103) on the Only in Miami Show at the studios of 880 the Biz, Miami’s Bloomberg network affiliate on Monday night, August 6th, 2018.

Who is Polo’s opponent in the Democratic primary?

Richard Tapia is a high school teacher and adjunct professor of Political Science at Miami Dade College, who leased an apartment in District 103 and attempted to muscle out Cindy Polo who is a longtime resident.

“I’m not going to. I’m in this race.”

“I’m a real Democrat and I’m from the neighborhood inside District 103,” says Polo when asked about her opponent’s history with the Republican Party.

“Nobody has to ask me these kinds of questions to know where I come from.”

Tapia did not reply to texted questions about his campaign debts or refer me to his campaign manager.

Tapia supported the American Dream Mall on a key Miami-Dade vote

Richard Tapia has become a serial candidate, who has run unsuccessfully for office three times, losing all of his races since 2001 despite getting endorsed twice by the Miami Herald for a Miami Commission seat, which he lost to now-disgraced former Commissioner Angel Gonzalez the first time, and current Commissioner Willy Gort in a 2010 special election.

What kind of a planning board sends to a county commission for approval incomplete plans for a life-altering megamall and theme park?

A rubber stamp one.

“Staff asked for us not to kill it… asked us to pass it on to the Metro Commission so they could continue negotiation,” board member Richard Tapia, a college professor, told me. The board didn’t recommend it, he and others said, just “transmitted it.”

Tapia favors the project as a tourism and jobs booster even if he acknowledges “the traffic concern” and that retail jobs are low paying. He hopes the project will propel a Metrorail extension to the area (dream on) and that the developer will pay for dedicated ramps on the highways (keep the dream alive).

But by voting to send to the commission, didn’t he and all the other members who voted for it just sabotage negotiating leverage? Anyone ever heard of a developer who voluntarily paid for something not in writing before a project gets the green light?

Before that, Richard Tapia supported another controversial project in Miami, which has since turned into a boondoggle.

Another candidate who could attract interest is Richard Tapia, 29… He calls infrastructure a key need in Allpattah, and believes the neighborhood could improve if the nearby Florida Marlins ballpark in Little Havana attracts businesses and development as promised.

“Stadiums are always a bad deal for the taxpaying public and great for sports team owners who get rich quick,” says Cindy Polo, who noted that state legislatures are also asked sometimes to subsidize money losing facilities.

Republican, Democrat and Non-Party Affiliated in just one year

Tapia acknowledged his history of party hopping when I called him, telling me:

“I have switched five times.”

In 2016, he was registered to vote as a Republican, a Democrat and an independent, not in that order.

Richard Tapia. Source: campaign website

“When he was Governor of Arkansas, he raised taxes for teachers to pay them more money.”

It is the only federal political donation from Richard Tapia to any member of any party.

Richard Tapia’s donation history shows he made a political donation from his Kendall home in January 2018 before “moving” to Florida House District 103.

“I was shocked and disappointed when he told me to drop out and move to House District 105,” Cindy Polo told me for this report.

She would’ve had to move her family which includes her 2-year old son to the farthest reaches of Kendall she says, “to an area which I have never lived. The furthest west that I have lived is Miami Lakes.”

Tapia’s Homstead property where he claims that he no longer lives.
Tapia’s voter registration, changed during the qualifying period of this year’s election.

“We intentionally scheduled interviews for after qualifying.”

“We endorsed Professor Tapia on his positions on union issues, higher education funding and Florida college governance, as well as protections for FRS,” said Ramsey who admitted that his membership and position on college funding were sole basis for their endorsement, and that she was unaware of the rest of his political history.

“He’s a union member of our local,” says Ramsey, “and we believe he’ll serve the public well.”

“Tapia is a plant” says Elaine del Valle on her widely read Miami politics blog Political Cortadito, “Put there solely to smear Cindy and make her spend her money so she is at a disadvantage when it comes to the general. And if Tapia actually wins the primary, which is unlikely but possible, he will not try very hard to win the general.”

“In fact, he may drop out,” says del Valle. “It wouldn’t be his first time.”

Polo’s endorsements are still rolling in

Cindy Polo has been endorsed by the Miami-Dade Democratic Party’s Environmental Caucus and by the progressive group Our Revolution, as well as by former State Representative Cindy Lerner.

“Cindy is running,” says McGee, “to improve the lives of hardworking families.”

“Cindy Polo exemplifies the best of our community; she’s a hardworking mom, a straight shooter, and most importantly, she’s one of us,” says Jonathan Fernandez, President of Northwest Dade Democratic Club.



Miami based columnist and radio broadcaster, and professional mortgage broker. Executive Editor of This is my personal page.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Grant Stern

Miami based columnist and radio broadcaster, and professional mortgage broker. Executive Editor of This is my personal page.