Reporting Gary Nelson
MIAMI (CBS4) – In June, 2011 Carlos Gimenez swept to the office of Miami-Dade Mayor on a wave of voter anger and backlash.
The same voters that recalled former Mayor Carlos Alvarez from office in the wake of a controversial tax increase, and the unpopular Marlins stadium deal, delivered Gimenez, the anti-Alvarez, a resounding victory.
“I will never make the same mistakes Alvarez made, because I fought against every one of his mistakes,” Gimenez said during the campaign last year. ” I was Carlos Alvarez’s worst nightmare on the county commission.”
Gimenez married his high school sweetheart and embarked on a career in public service. He was a Miami firefighter and later fire chief. He went on to become Miami’s city manager and is largely credited with bringing the town back from the brink of bankruptcy.
“I was able to manage the city through some really tough times and left the city in its best financial condition ever,” Gimenez said in a May, 2011 interview with CBS4′s Gary Nelson.
As Miami-Dade Mayor, Gimenez has made good on his promise to roll back property taxes and reduce the size of government. He slashed the pay and benefits of county workers, including police officers. The unions are not among his supporters.
Gimenez stood firm on the cuts, saying the previous administration had delivered budget busting pay hikes to police and others.
“We have to balance the budget at the end of the year, and we will balance the budget by the end of the year…by hook or by crook,” Gimenez said in a January interview with CBS4 News.
Gimenez’s career has been scandal free, although his campaign has had to deal with the distraction of a growing absentee ballot fraud investigation.
Deisy Cabrera, a so-called “boletero,” or ballot broker, was arrested last week after police say they found her with a stack of other people’s ballots, which is illegal. She also allegedly filled out and forged the signature of a voter on at least one ballot.
Gimenez has repeatedly denied knowing or dealing with Cabrera.
“She is not connected to my campaign in any shape or firm,” Gimenez told CBS4 News last week. The mayor says all of his campaign staff have signed affidavits swearing they are not involved with Cabrera.
The Miami Herald, however, has reported that Cabrera was a regular at Gimenez’s Hialeah campaign office.
Another distraction for his re-election came when it was revealed one of his key campaign consultants had a convicted felon on his staff. Gimenez fired the consultant.
Gimenez, through his campaign staff, declined to be interviewed for this report, variously citing illness and schedule conflicts. The mayor’s lack of availability comes amid growing “chatter,” as The Miami Herald put it, of his campaign’s links to dubious election operatives.
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