MIAMI (CBS4) – The political and city machinery is spinning, but may yet be stopped. That sums up the uncertainty and high stakes in play as a special March 15th recall election takes shape—with Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez’s job and that of a county commissioner on the line.
Miami auto tycoon Norman Braman is revved up over the recall effort he sparked and told CBS4’s Michael Williams Friday, “Recalling Mayor Alvarez is only the beginning.”
Absentee ballots started going out Friday. On February 28th early voting begins. Alvarez will face all county voters.
Embattled Miami-Dade commissioner, Natacha Seijas, will face voters in her district. Both politicians are lightning rods for public anger over the property tax rate hike they supported last fall.
Braman’s team is circulating flyers that slam Alvarez for union pay raises at a time of belt tightening, and he alleges mismanagement across the county during Alvarez’s watch.
Braman said, “Most importantly the mayor has not addressed the situation (financial crisis) at Jackson Memorial Hospital.”
Alvarez has argued he negotiated historic union pay concessions and spared public safety and social services by making the tough calls—including the one for what his administration has termed a modest, but necessary tax rate hike.
In his state of the county address Wednesday Alvarez said, “Elected leaders have a responsibility to demonstrate both integrity and political courage—the duty to do the right thing regardless of its potential impact on personal political fortunes. That is exactly how I have governed.”
The mayor and Seijas will try next week to derail the special election with court challenges.
Braman is not worried, “I don’t think they have any real hope they are going to stop the election.”
The billionaire auto dealer and civic activist argued the recall effort is only step one. Braman wants broad changes to the county charter, including term limits for commissioners and two at-large districts to help rid the commission of parochialism.
Braman said, “If we remove Mayor Alvarez without the necessary change (charter reform) then it has been a waste of my money and my time.”
The battle now heads into its final turn; and the outcome may shape the county’s fortunes—political and otherwise–for many years to come.