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The Town of Surfside, Florida is a Commission-Manager form of government. Article II of the Town of Surfside Charter provides a detailed explanation of the associated rights, responsibilities and prohibitions governing the Commission.

The Legislative Department consists of the Mayor, Vice Mayor and three Town Commissioners. They are identified by name and title on the title page of this document. Collectively, the legislative body is responsible principally for setting the general policy direction of the town. The Town Commission makes four critically important appointments on behalf of the Town and provides oversight to those appointments. The appointments are: 1) the Town Attorney, 2) Town Board members, 3) the Town Manager, and 4) the Town’s external auditor.

The powers and responsibilities of the Town Commission designated in the Town Charter include, among others: 1) appointments, 2) establishing administrative departments through the adopted budget, 3) levying taxes and assessments, 4) authorizing bond issuance, 5) adopting and modifying the official Town map, 6) regulating development consistent with governing laws, 7) addressing neighborhood development, 8) granting public utility franchises, 9) providing for an employee pension plan, 10) monitoring administrative services through the Town Manager, 11) appointing interim Commissioners in the event of a vacancy of office, and 12) providing Town ceremonies.

  • Charles W. Burkett, Mayor

    Charles W. Burkett is the current Mayor of the Town of Surfside. He was first elected as Mayor in 2006. He was re-elected Mayor in 2008 and reelected again, twelve years later in 2020.  

    Born and raised in Miami Beach, Mayor Burkett is a visionary who built his national management and investment company, the Burkett Companies, from the ground up. 

    His successful career in investments began in the early 1980s. After graduating from the University of Miami with a bachelor’s degree in finance, he used his savings from working as a construction site laborer to buy his first property in Miami Beach in 1983. Soon after, he founded Burkett Companies and continued buying properties in the now famous South Beach/Art Deco District. He currently owns and operates properties in eight U.S. States.

    As a Miami Beach resident, Mayor Burkett served on the Miami Beach Housing Authority board for nine years, many as Chairman. He was also a member on the Nuisance Abatement Board, a board member of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce and has also served on the Community Development Block Grant Board, the Code Enforcement Board, and Police Academy as a member. He has also participated in many blue ribbon and ad hoc committees.  

    In his free time, he enjoys skiing, diving, flying, boating and good food.

    He has lived in Surfside, enjoying its unparalleled lifestyle since 1996 and is the proud parent of William Michael Burkett.

  • Tina Paul, Vice Mayor

    Vice Mayor Tina Paul is an accomplished professional photographer and proud Surfside resident. A Miami Beach native, she was first elected to the commission in 2016 and has served for over five years.

    As Vice Mayor, she represents the Town of Surfside on the Miami-Dade County League of Cities and serves as a liaison to the Tourism Board. Previously, she was a liaison to the Parks and Recreation Board. One of her main goals is to be a strong voice for the community, environment and residents’ quality of life.

    Even before running for office, Vice Mayor Paul was a regular attendee at commission meetings, speaking up on topics that impacted residents and beachgoers. She believes that the best way to create change is to have a seat at the table and be part of the solution.

    Vice Mayor Paul was raised in Surfside, surrounded by the ocean breeze and pastel-colored skies. She learned to swim at the Surfside community center and describes her experience growing up as a “happy life.”

    She graduated from Miami Beach Senior High, where she first picked up a camera, and Miami Dade College before attending the School of Visual Arts in New York City at age 19. There, she found a home among New York’s Avant Garde creative innovators and made a name for herself documenting the city’s nightlife and famous celebrities, such as model Grace Jones and fashion icon Patricia Field, as well as Miami in the 80s to today.

    Over the years, she has developed strong working relationships with prominent artists, authors, DJs, fashionistas, publishers, and paparazzi, and has had the opportunity to observe politicians and world leaders up-close. Her photos have been featured in several documentary films and books.

    Vice Mayor Paul was first drawn to public office through her interest in historic preservation, especially in support of Surfside’s historic buildings. She believes in development within boundaries while preserving Surfside’s small beach town charm. She is focused on addressing issues of importance to all citizens and maintaining a calm, harmonious and clean environment. Additionally, Vice Mayor Paul advocates for events that bring the community together, such as the First Friday beach gatherings, and was instrumental in the creation of Surfy the Turtle coloring book, as well as spearheading commission support of Pelican Harbor, bringing bird releases to Surfside.

    In her personal life, she supports social justice and equality initiatives. In 2011, Vice Mayor Paul and her longtime partner, Arhlene, moved back to Surfside to be close to her parents. It is through honor and respect for the values instilled by her parents, Anne and Leo Paul, that she is inspired to serve and build upon their legacy.
  • Charles Kesl, Commissioner

    Commissioner Charles Kesl learned the value of hard work from his parents and from years of experience in leadership roles.  

    Born and raised in Chicago, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,  where he received a Hearst Award and the James Brady Scholarship and joined the faculty to develop environmental education media. He also  produced, filmed and edited documentaries that aired on PBS and featured stories of homeless women and children, a civil rights leader's biography and the story of an historic cinema's fight for survival.

    After graduation, Kesl worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where he integrated  environmental sustainability into the training mission by listening and understanding, identifying common goals, receiving buy-in from commanders, and facilitating education.

    Additionally, Kesl served in various capacities at The New School in New York City including Director of Academic Technology, in which he upgraded cycles of more than $10 million of resources each year. Kesl revolutionized procedures in his department by creating fair and universal access to technologies and resources through smart partnerships and purchases, implementing cost-effective, efficient and scalable systems, team building, and more. Ultimately, his position grew to serve all schools and divisions within the university.

    Today, Kesl owns and operates Batteries Plus Bulbs of Miami Lakes, offering a wide variety of power and lighting solutions for practically every use, as well as expert repair of phones and other devices on the spot.

    Kesl is a proud 10-year resident of Surfside and is passionate about preserving the Town’s pristine beaches and natural habitat, as well as creating jobs, supporting startups and maximizing revenue from tourism.

    In his spare time, he enjoys painting, gardening, traveling, sailing, film and photography.

  • Eliana R. Salzhauer, Commissioner

    The Town of Surfside’s topnotch Parks and Recreation programs, beautiful beaches and diverse, vibrant community make Commissioner Eliana Salzhauer proud to live in and serve her community.

    Commissioner Salzhauer moved to Surfside from New York City in 2006 and quickly became an active member of Town committees. She served as Chair and Vice Chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee for 10 years and served as Chair of the New Surfside Community Center Committee for four years, before being elected to the Town Commission in March of 2020.

    Salzhauer’s commitment to public service began early in her career. After graduating from Barnard College and the University of Virginia School of Law, she worked as an Assistant District Attorney in New York City, before embarking on a more than 20-year career in journalism.

    As a network news, investigative, talk show, and documentary producer, Commissioner Salzhauer’s work has appeared nationally on CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, HBO, ESPN, Starz, and Discovery networks. Her work in political satire predates her work in local politics, having produced for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Late Show with David Letterman, Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Howard Stern Show. Over the years, her work has captured multiple award nominations and Emmys.

    Her industry experience led her to Nova Southeastern University, where she taught undergraduate and graduate courses in journalism and public speaking as an adjunct professor in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

    She has long been an advocate of fiscal responsibility, strengthening infrastructure, and improving residents’ quality of life in Surfside.

    Commissioner Salzhauer continues to balance her career as a freelance journalist and working mom of two boys, while representing Surfside residents. She is an avid lap swimmer and beach path walker and invites you to connect with her directly at esalzhauer@townofsurfsidefl.gov.

  • Nelly Velasquez, Commissioner