Miami-Dade voters elected former County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez as their new mayor Tuesday in a runoff election.
With all precincts reporting, unofficial results showed Gimenez had slightly more than 51 percent of the nearly 200,000 votes. His opponent, former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina, conceded Tuesday night.
Gimenez had a slightly larger lead when elections officials first posted results earlier in the evening from absentee ballots and early voting, which began June 18. His lead shrank but never disappeared as votes were counted.
Gimenez and Robaina were the top two vote-getters in a crowded field of 11 candidates vying to replace former Mayor Carlos Alvarez, who was ousted in March in a recall. Former 2 Live Crew rapper Luther "Luke" Campbell was among the other candidates in the May 24 special election. He finished fourth, behind former state Rep. Marcelo Llorente.
With more than 2.5 million people, Miami-Dade County is the most populous area ever to recall a local official. Angry over a property tax rate increase and salary raise for county employees in a county struggling to recover from the recession, 88 percent of the 204,500 who cast ballots in March wanted Alvarez gone.
Alvarez maintained throughout the recall effort that raising taxes was necessary to fill a $444 million gap and avoid cuts to critical social services. He said those affected by the property tax increase had enjoyed an artificially low 3 percent annual cap on tax increases during the real estate boom, and that the last round of contract negotiations had authorized most of the employee raises.
With Alvarez's second term set to end in 2012, Gimenez will have to run for re-election at that time if he wants to keep his new job.
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