Surfside, Florida votes out the mayor after condo collapse

The Detroit News

Surfside, Fla. – The mayor of the South Florida town where 98 people died in a beachfront condominium collapse last summer has been voted out of office.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett came in third in Tuesday’s election, according to uncertified results from the Miami-Dade County Elections Department. Business owner Shlomo Danzinger won the race with 499 votes, followed by Vice Mayor Tina Paul with 476 votes and Burkett with 466.

Rescue personnel work in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo, Friday, June 25, 2021, in Surfside, Fla.

“The voters have their own ideas and I’m happy with the determination of the voters,” Burkett told the Miami Herald. “That works for me just fine.”

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett speaks to the media regarding the collapse of the 12-story oceanfront condo, Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Fla., Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

The newly elected mayor and commission will be sworn in Wednesday.

Danzinger, 42, said residents were tired of the constant bickering, mostly between Burkett and Commissioner Eliana Salzhauer. Salzhauer, who also lost her seat, flipped her middle fingers at the mayor twice, drawing wide media attention.

“If we don’t end up in the newspapers in the next two years, that’ll be an accomplishment,” Danzinger told the Herald.

Nearly 6,000 people live in Surfside, just north of Miami Beach, where luxury condominium high-rises lining the oceanfront draw an outsized number of people who can’t vote. Residents include Latin Americans, Canadian snowbirds and Russian immigrants along with Orthodox Jewish families.

The 40-year-old Champlain Towers complex began collapsing with virtually no warning in the early morning hours of June 24. The disaster exposed delays in repairs that were needed to comply with Miami-Dade County’s 40-year-recertification process.

Emergency workers spent weeks searching for survivors and then human remains in the wreckage of the 12-story building. A lawsuit continues as parties work to reach a settlement. The site where the towers once stood will be put up for auction at the end of April, attorneys said. One offer for about $120 million has been on the table for months, but there may be others as the auction approaches.