Miami Beach commissioner’s tweets prompt local Democrats to threaten him with recall effort

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola, a registered Democrat, was elected in 2015. He was re-elected in 2019 and his term doesn’t end until 2023, but some leaders of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party want it to end sooner.

Miami-Dade Democrats are sponsoring a resolution that would formally censure Arriola. They are citing alleged racism, COVID-19 lies, and unprofessional behavior. The resolution will come up to a vote during their next meeting in February.

Steve Simeonidis, the Miami-Dade Democratic Party chair, said Arriola needs to resign or he will face a recall effort.

“This isn’t a policy disagreement,” Simeonidis said, adding it is about the “racist rhetoric” and “dangerous disinformation” coming from Arriola’s social media accounts.

For months, Arriola shared about unproven COVID-19 treatments, herd immunity, and a story about a call to jail Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Most recently, Arriola compared the U.S. Capitol siege to interfere with the presidential election with the riots stemming from Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality.

On Tuesday, Arriola had a contentious public exchange with Billy Corben, an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning documentary film director.

“He has spiraled into right-wing conspiracy theories, science denialism, a thinly veiled racism,” Corben said, adding that Arriola “is emotionally unstable and unfit for public office.”

Arriola’s aid said he was unable to answer questions in time for this story’s deadline, but he wants to make sure people know that he is not a COVID denier, he just doesn’t believe in the effectiveness of lockdowns. Arriola’s aid also said recalls are reserved for officials who are not doing their job and not over a difference of opinion.

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About the Author:

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.