MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – Newly-elected Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez will take office after the election is certified by the canvassing board, but he’s wasting no time getting to work.
“We are going to be tightening our belt,” Gimenez said Wednesday. “There is a new sheriff, although I’m a firefighter in town. And it’s not going to be the same old, same old. The culture of the county is going to change.”
He entered county hall Wednesday afternoon for the first time as the mayor-elect.
“It it is supposed to be a holiday weekend but it’s not going to be a holiday weekend but for some of the county employees because I’m going to work and we need to get this budget done,” Gimenez said.
The time crunch of the budget is going to be tight. Gimenez has 16 days to put his first budget together. The county faces a shortfall of $400 million and Gimenez promised he would cut taxes, which makes balancing the budget that much more difficult.
“The last thing I want to do is to fire people, but we are going to have to reduce the size of this government,” Gimenez said. “We are going to have to cover this deficient (sic).”
While many celebrate the election of Gimenez to succeed former Mayor Carlos Alvarez, it came with a steep price. In the end, the recall and election could cost up to $17 million, and some say it wasn’t worth the cost.
“I think they should have kept Carlos Alvarez. He was doing a good job,” one voter told CBS4’s David Sutta.
Gimenez though said he plans to lead by example.
“I’m going to cut the salary and benefits of the mayor by 50 percent,” Gimenez said. “I’m not going to have a car allowance. I’m not going to have two SUV’s. I’m not going to have people driving me around.”
And with just 14 months until Gimenez faces another election, the mayor-elect told CBS4 that the plan is to focus on the budget and restore the confidence of Miami-Dade taxpayers.
“The only way you can do that is by telling the truth, being transparent, and that’s going to take a bit of time. But I hope to begin the process,” Gimenez said.
Wednesday afternoon, Gimenez told the county manager she will be moving out of her office. In the past, the county manager’s office played the role of gatekeeper in Miami-Dade government. Gimenez said that’s his job now.