POLITICS

11 Candidates in Race for Miami-Dade Mayor

Miami-Dade voters have 11 candidates to choose from in the race for the county's next mayor and six weeks to make a decision on who will fill the seat of Mayor Carlos Alvarez who was ousted from office in the second largest recall in U.S. history.

Miami-Dade Commissioners have decided May 24 as the date the county will hold a special election for a new mayor and commissioner. Fifteen politicians officially declared their candidacies for the positions: 11 are in the race for mayor and four are vying for the position of District 13 commissioner. Those still holding office had to resign from their currently held positions, which left more vacancies up for grabs.

The election gives candidates six weeks to campaign before voters decide who should fill the seat of former Mayor Alvarez and former District 13 commissioner Natacha Seijas. Both were recalled from office last month.

In the running is former state representative Marcelo Llorente, who has raised over $400,000 for his campaign. "We feel we have the infrastructure ready to go. The momentum is building, and it's such a great opportunity to create a new day for Miami-Dade," he said.

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Two-time appointed County Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Cancio, 71, was also amongst the first to qualify for the mayor's race. "I am not a professor in politician. I think I am going to bring change and the change starts here," said Cancio.

Rapper Luther Campbell said he is serious about his candidacy for Miami-Dade mayor. "I'm just like any other citizen," said Campbell. "I'm a community servant and my job is to serve the community."

Campbell already has a few catchy slogans for his campaign. "Remix some of my songs, 'I'll pop that vote,'" he laughed. "I'll talk to any group that invites me to talk to them, and that's my job."

Julio Robaina is also in the running for mayor. He resigned from his position as mayor of Hialeah; however, his resignation will not go into effect until the day before the special election. "We will bring that same type of philosophy: run it like a business; don't spend more than what we have," he said.

Robaina promised to roll back the tax hike that led to the recall of former Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez. Minutes after he qualified to run for county mayor, though, he was asked tough questions concerning an ongoing IRS probe into a personal loan he gave to a convicted Ponzi schemer. "My wife and I have been victims of this Ponzi scheme," said Robaina.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez had second thoughts about running for mayor, but on Tuesday decided to enter the race. He resigned from his seat as District 7 commissioner and is officially a mayoral candidate. "My main thought was, where could I serve the people of Miami-Dade County better, either as a commissioner or making a run at mayor. The outcome of the conclusion is absolutely as mayor," said Gimenez. "I'm the one person in this race that can make the changes necessary."

Former Miami-Dade County Transit Director Roosevelt Bradley is another mayoral candidate. He said, "I am the only one in the race that, over the last few years, has brought billions of dollars to this community."

Out of the race are Alex Pinellas and former Hialeah mayor Raul Martinez, who has decided to try to get his old job back. He has entered the race for Hialeah mayor. "Things in the city are not going well, and I feel like I can offer a lot still," he said.

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