DORAL (CBS4) – Miami-Dade voters headed to the polls on Tuesday to cast their ballot for the county’s next mayor.
For the voters, it’s the end of an increasingly bitter campaign to replace former Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez.
“We do need some change, this is a wonderful county,” said voter Lilia Silva.
Voter Aldo Charafurdin echoed Silva’s sentiment saying there are “too many problems in this county we need to fix.”
For the candidates, the campaign and countless debates pitching their respective platforms have finally ended.
“It’s almost over,” said mayoral candidate and former county commissioner Carlos Gimenez. “We are ready to go to work after the results come in tonight, then we go from there. But we have run a good campaign, a campaign of family, friends all over Miami-Dade County supporting our cause. We will find out tonight if it was enough.”
For Gimenez, the key to his campaign is distancing himself from Alvarez and convincing voters that despite being on the county comission for several years he has not been a part of the problem.
“I will never make the same mistakes Alvarez made because I fought against every one of his mistakes,” Gimenez said. “I was Carlos Alvarez’s worse nightmare on the county commission.”
Gimenez’s opponent was also optimistic about his chances in the election. Julio Robaina started his day casting his ballot as his precinct in Hialeah.
The former Hialeah mayor is hoping to make it into county hall to lead Miami-Dade in a new direction.
Robaina won the special election last month by five points. He’s been working hard to increase that lead by courting voters outside of his Hialeah base. Robaina is hoping 2 Live Crew rapper and former mayoral candidate Luther Campbell’s endorsement will help with that.
“We’re going to continue to work very hard to make sure we get all those voters that are out there,” said mayoral candidate and former Hialeah mayor Julio Robaina. “We want people to come and vote and obviously we want to send a clear message that we don’t want some of the same old actions that we’ve been getting from the county.”
Robaina’s campaign focused on his track record in Hialeah, saying he balanced the budget, didn’t raise taxes and kept vital services during tough economic times.
Robaina said he’s confident that voters will make the right choice.
“A lot of time and money has gone into the recall and the election and for us now to determine who is going to be the next mayor, the leader of the people. That’s what we want. That’s what we need,” said Robaina.
Both candidates plan to do a little last minute campaigning on Tuesday to rally their supporters to get out and vote.
During the early voting period last week the Miami-Dade Elections Department said a total of 36,691 voters cast their ballots at select polling locations. Additionally, of the 127,271 absentee ballots mailed out, more than 77,000 had been returned. Voters have until the close of polls Tuesday to return an absentee ballot.
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Voters planning to cast their ballots on Tuesday should go to their own neighborhood polling place; the polls will be open until 7 p.m. Voters at some Miami Beach precincts will find a note when they arrive at their usual polling place, directing them to a new location, as some precincts have been moved because children’s’ summer programs underway there.
You can get complete information about the changes, find out about the candidates, get sample ballots and more by visiting the CBSMiami Special Elections page, which will also have the fastest results on election day.