Lifelong Miami resident and real estate broker Jim Fried is running for city of Miami commissioner, and his message is simple: Miami needs better customer service.
Earlier this month, Fried officially entered the race against incumbent city commissioner Ken Russell for District 2, which spans from Coconut Grove to Morningside and includes Brickell, downtown Miami and Edgewater.
“People can’t get permits, it takes forever to get plans reviewed,” Fried told The Real Deal.
The real estate and mortgage broker also hosts the radio show “Fried on Business.” His recent deals include representing Related Group in a $6.5 million sale at 33, 45 and 51 Northwest 28th Street in Wynwood, where Related is planning to build a mixed-use project.
He said he plans to use his real estate background in his run against Russell, who has faced criticism from residents in the West Grove over zoning issues and the street improvements in downtown Miami.
District 2 is seeing a rush of new development and activity, especially north of downtown around the Edgewater neighborhood, where Fried lives.
One major talking point for Fried will be the controversial deal by Jorge Mas and David Beckham to bring a $1 billion soccer stadium development to the current site of the Melreese golf course. Last week, city officials suddenly closed – and then reopened – the public golf course after a report was published that indicated that Melreese had high levels of contaminants including arsenic under its soil.
“Melreese needs to be investigated and you need to study the lease more. Nothing should ever be done with a no-bid (lease),” Fried said. “We need more grass and trees, not less.”
Fried will face an uphill battle. Russell has been in office since 2015 and ran for Congress in 2018 to replace U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
After bowing out of the race last summer, Russell was able to move $100,000 from his congressional campaign to his reelection in the city commission, according to the Miami Herald. Russell boasts his accomplishments as helping change the city of Miami’s code with inclusionary zoning ordinance to mandate affordable housing for new development and also helping remediate six contaminated parks in the city.
Fried said he is counting on small donations and a grassroots campaign for funding. However, he can count on support from at least one high-level Florida Democrat. His niece, Nikki Fried, was elected in November as Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
“She supports me becoming a city of Miami commissioner, but is incredibly busy with her state duties,” Fried said.
Javier Gonzalez, a Miami real estate agent, is also running against Fried and Russell.