MIAMI – Mayor Manny Diaz, who has presided over a resurgent Miami, easily won a second term Tuesday in an election delayed two weeks by Hurricane Wilma.
"I'm extremely gratified," he said. "I'm very happy."
Diaz faced four challengers in the non-partisan election originally scheduled for Nov. 1. With all 131 precincts reporting, Diaz had 17,031 votes, or 65.25 percent. Enrique Santos, his closest challenger, had 6,828 votes, or 26.16 percent.
Diaz noted that he won support across the entire city. "That's something I'm very proud of," he said. "This is a city that is about to become one of the premier cities in this country."
Turnout, however, was light. Officials said about 18 percent of eligible voters went to the polls.
Diaz, a registered independent, had been widely expected to win re-election based on Miami's improvement in several key areas, including a lower jobless rate, a reduction in crime, more efficient city management and renewed economic activity.
"We've created a tremendous amount of excitement," Diaz said in a recent interview. "Miami is becoming a major destination, a major capital, particularly as it relates to Latin America."
Some voters said Wilma made it hard for them to choose whom to vote for.
"I normally am very active in political elections, but I was 12 days without electricity because of Hurricane Wilma and still without Internet access, so it was very hard for me to do my research on each candidate," said Mona Harris, a 33-year-old fashion designer who voted for Diaz opponent Charles Cutler.
Marina Cedeno, a 71-year-old painter who voted for Diaz, said he has had a positive effect on Miami.
"He works for everybody. The city is secured. He is making jobs for people. It's very good. He is necessary for Miami," Cedeno said.
The best known of Diaz's challengers was Santos, a local radio personality who once crank-called Cuban President Fidel Castro on his show. Santos based his campaign on concerns that not everyone was sharing in Miami's boom and that there was far too little affordable housing for working people.
Also on the ballot were Cutler, who has unsuccessfully run for city and county commission posts in the past; Omari Musa, a self-described socialist who supports Castro; and Evaristo "Ever" Marina, editor of a Spanish-language newspaper who has run for various offices about a dozen times.