Reporting Jim DeFede
MIAMI (CBS4) – In a public ceremony, Carlos Gimenez was sworn in Wednesday afternoon as the new mayor of Miami Dade County, vowing to shrink the size of county government, and cut taxes, without harming essential services such as the police and fire departments.
“This is truly a defining moment and a sobering one as well,” Gimenez said.
Gimenez officially took control of the county’s $7.4 billion government on Friday when he took the oath of office in a small private ceremony that allowed him to get right to work over the holiday weekend. Wednesday’s ceremony was more visible, but still quite austere.
In remarks after being sworn in, Gimenez alternated between English and Spanish. But his entire speech took less than four minutes to deliver.
In blunt, straightforward language, Gimenez challenged his former colleagues on the county commission to join him in the hard work ahead. Gimenez has little more than a week to present a budget that fills a $400 million deficit.
Clearly suggesting the commission had lost its way, Gimenez chided them that “we must never again forget we work for the residents of Miami Dade County.”
And he added: “My decisions will be guided by one principal: What is best for the people of Miami Dade?”
Gimenez also told commissioners that they need to place on next year’s ballot a series of measures that will reform the county charter, including a plan to institute term limits of no more than eight years in office for commissioners.
Commissioners have routinely rejected such requests in the past, and they sat stoically as Gimenez lectured them on the need to place such a question before the voters.
Despite the awkward moment, County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, who is likely to emerge as Gimenez’s greatest rival on the commission, said commissioners were more than willing to work with the new mayor on a variety of topics.