Miami Dade Votes For New Mayor in Special Election, Top Candidates Emerge

As Miami-Dade voters prepare to voice their choice for a new mayor on Tuesday, according to at least one poll, the top two candidates are neck and neck.

Julio Robaina and Carlos Gimenez are the perceived favorites, according to a poll released by the Miami Herald, Monday. Tuesday, voters in Miami-Dade County will chose not only between Robaina and Gimenez but also nine other candidates and six charter amendments.

Robaina, the former mayor of Hialeah said, "We're gearing up just to get our message out, get the people out to vote and send a clear message that we're about reform."

Gimenez, a former Miami-Dade County commissioner, said, "We feel confident, we can feel the surge, and we're very enthused. I think we're gonna do pretty well."

Voters overwhelmingly recalled mayor Carlos Alvarez from office in March. Since then, eleven candidates have emerged to take over the office. In the most recent published poll, Robaina leads with 25 percent of the vote and Gimenez trails nearby with 20 percent. Meanwhile, former rapper Luther Campbell has 10 percent while former state rep. Marcelo Llorente has eight percent.

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There are seven others running for office. Gabrielle Redfern, Eddie Lewis and Farid Khavari have run for office before and lost. Jose Pepe Cancio, Roosevelt Bradley and Wilbur Bell have all held office. Finally, Jeffery Lampert is an Iraq War vet and firefighter.

Early voting ended this weekend. Norman Braman, who spearheaded the recall vote that booted Alvarez out of office, cast his vote on Saturday and struck an optimistic tone. "They've all pledged that reform is going to be their first order of business," he said. "That's how this whole thing started in the fall, when we started the petition process."

Miami-Dade residents can also usher in drastic changes to the commission. The most talked about charter amendment on the ballot, if passed, would mean commissioners would hold their position as a full-time job with no other employment. They will receive an annual salary of about $92,000, and they will not be allowed to serve more than three, four-year consecutive terms.

If none of the candidates receive 50 percent of the votes, there will be a run-off election between the top two candidates in June.

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