2024 - 2026 Town Commission_smaller

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



    (from Mayor Burkett:)

    I was born at St. Francis Hospital (which is now Aqua, on 63rd Street) and raised in Miami Beach. I moved to Surfside in 1996 to take advantage of the unparalleled lifestyle and have lived here, in the same home, ever since. Julia and I are the proud parents of William Michael Burkett (now 20). I enjoy skiing, diving, flying, boating & ...good food :)

    Pre-school:  The Cushman School, Miami
    Grammar:  St. Patrick's School, Miami Beach
    High:  Archbishop Curley High School, Miami
    College:  University of Miami, BS, Finance

    After I graduated from college, I used my savings from working as a construction site laborer to buy my first property in 1983. It was a home in Miami Beach that I renovated, with help from friends I hired, and then leased. I then purchased my first building in Miami Beach's budding Art Deco District with the remainder of my savings.  I renovated that building, was able to get a loan on the equity I created in the property, and bought my next property.

    I did this over and over throughout the 80s, 90s and early 2000s.

    I subsequently went on to expand on a national basis into an additional seven states.

    I currently operate a national management and investment company, which I own 100% of, which oversees those investments.

    For the record, with the exception of my home in Surfside, I do not own any property or have any financial interests in Town. My family did own property in Surfside's commercial district, but it was sold in the 80s.

    When I lived in Miami Beach, I was:
    A board member and chairman of the Miami Beach Housing Authority for nine years,
    A board member of the Nuisance Abatement Board,
    Member of the Code Enforcement Board,
    Member of the Community Development Block Grant Board,
    A Police Academy member, 
    A board member of the Miami Beach Chamber,
    The President of the North Beach Development Corporation,

    A board member of my neighborhood association, the La Gorce-Pinetree Homeowners Association,

    I have also participated in many blue ribbon & ad hoc committees in Miami Beach over my 35 years living there.

    Surfside Civic:
    In 2004, I ran for Mayor of Surfside and lost my first election by only a handful of votes.
    In 2006, I was first elected Mayor of Surfside.
    In 2008, I was re-elected Mayor of Surfside.
    In 2020, I was re-elected Mayor of Surfside.
    In 2024, I was re-elected Mayor of Surfside.

    I'm proud of my record of service in Surfside to protect our town and its residents from exploitive predators interested only in financial gain at the cost of our precious small town way of life.

  • 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 served for three terms until 2022 before being re-elected in 2024.

    As Vice Mayor, she previously represented the Town of Surfside on the Miami-Dade County League of Cities and served 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 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 inspire Vice Mayor Paul to serve the community to build upon their legacy. 

  • Ruben A. Coto



    (from Commissioner Coto)

    In 2004 I served on the Town Commission and worked hard to protect our Town from overdevelopment. Additional achievements from my time on the dais include enhancing our relationship with local schools including establishing a tutoring program run by Surfside students for the benefit of younger Surfside students. Most importantly, we encouraged and welcomed resident participation in everything from beach clean-ups to Commission meetings. I look forward to serving the Town again after having the honor of being elected your Commissioner on March 19, 2024.

    My vision is to be part of a Surfside that responds to the actual needs of ALL Surfsiders! I look forward to establishing a policy stating that our codes must be enforced equally and with absolutely no favors for developers or special interests. I will work hard to ensure that our public spaces are maintained, move forward with undergrounding, and address the flooding issues. I absolutely am committed to a Champlain Towers South Memorial Park that is completed in a dignified manner worthy of the 98 souls who perished and their families.

    I hope to be part of a governing body that restores trust, inclusivity, and a productive dialogue between the Commission and ALL Surfsiders.

    A little background about me - I was born in Costa Rica to Cuban parents who fled the Castro regime. We arrived in the United States when I was two months old.

    I am a 34-year resident of Surfside. My wife, Lea Baruch, and I, are proud to have raised our two amazing sons, Joseph and Gabriel, in the same Surfside home that Lea’s mom purchased in 1976. 

    I am a self-employed small business owner. Since 2013, my company, Coto Industries LLC, has specialized in the sale of health and life insurance.

    My formal education includes a degree from Martin Technical College in Dental Technology as well as Political Science coursework at Miami-Dade Community College.

    I am a passionate advocate of civic engagement.  A brief history of my Surfside service includes Town Commissioner, Education Committee Liaison, Parks and Recreation Committee Member, and Vice-President of the Surfside Business Association in years past.  I have served as a member of our Town’s Program for Public Information (PPI) which focuses on educating the public on issues related to FEMA and flooding.

    As a thirteen-year Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader, it is important for me to conduct myself in a helpful, trustworthy, and courteous manner. I connect with the mission of the Scouts which emphasizes leadership, character, and public service. I look forward to working alongside this Commission to better improve the lives of all Surfsiders.



  • Nelly Velasquez



    Like many New Yorkers, Commissioner Nelly Velasquez fell in love with Surfside’s privileged weather, natural beauty, and serene quality of life. She has been a Town resident for more than 10 years and is married with two children.

    As the only member of the Commission re-elected in the last two Surfside elections, she has been instrumental in spearheading efforts to initiate the process of undergrounding all Town utilities, a measure that is supported by a vast number of Surfside residents. Improved neighborhood aesthetics and greater resiliency during wind events are the impetus behind her commitment to this passion project.

    Resiliency is also paramount for another cause near and dear to the Commissioner’s heart, tackling the Town’s flooding issues—particularly in the single-family-home district along Abbot Avenue. She has been a fierce proponent of Abbot Avenue drainage improvements in the hopes of solving a stubborn and complex problem many residents have sought answers on.

    In her downtime, Commissioner Velasquez enjoys spending time with her family, taking advantage of the programming at the Community Center as well as many of the Town’s signature annual events. A proud American with a devout sense of community pride, she marks Fourth of July as one of her favorite holidays to celebrate. Fireworks, friends and family - all key components of that staple event - and all part of what drives her fervent desire to serve the Town and its residents.

  • Gerardo Vildostegui



    Biography coming soon