Biscayne Park voters elect Harvey Bilt to vacant commission seat

Harvey Bilt has been elected to fill a vacant commission seat in Biscayne Park.

Bilt received 199 votes in the March 28 special election while his opponent, Daniel Samaria, got 143 in unofficial results. Vice Mayor David Coviello announced in December he would be resigning on March 31 with 19 months left in his term.

“I felt very good. I had things that I was looking forward to and helping the commission and helping our residents with, and more people agreed with me,” said Bilt, an 18-year resident.

Samaria, a 10-year resident, blamed low voter turnout and his opponent’s political connections for the loss.

“This election cost us $16,000, and people were very upset. I thought that more residents would show up and vote and that I would win and that the turnout would be higher than it was,” Samaria said. “My opponent ran a campaign with help from village politicians, and I ran a campaign with volunteers.”

Bilt said he wants to work with the commission to fulfill items already on the agenda, such as hiring a village manager, as well as the goals he spoke about during the campaign.

“I think we need to make sure we continue in the direction we’re going in terms of our police force and presence, and we need clear code,” he said.

Bilt said listening to residents is his most important first step.

“The old expression is: You’ve got two ears and one mouth, so you should be able to listen twice as much as you speak. I am listening to all suggestions, all issues that people have,” he said.

Bilt will be sworn in on Tuesday during the next scheduled commission meeting.