MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In just a few weeks, voters across South Florida will pick their representatives. In Miami-Dade County, a county commission race will feature two career politicians with very different visions of the future.
In the days leading up to the August primary election, Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro made headlines for busing voters to the polls, even offering to help them cast a ballot if they asked. When asked about it, Barreiro confirmed its appearance was not what it seems.
“By no means,” Barreiro told CBS4. He explained that not only was bussing and voting assistance legal, it was common practice. “We’ve offered that and my opponents offered that.”
“Even though it might be legal; it doesn’t pass the smell test,” Barreiro’s opponent Luis Garcia said.
He points out this is just one difference between him and the incumbent.
“Mr. Barreiro has been there for 14 years. Are you really any better right now than you were 14 years ago?” Garcia asked. “I think that the Miami-Dade Commission is broken. It’s a broken entity. It’s broken morally. It’s broken financially. It’s broken ethically.”
Garcia is pledging if elected to expose county fraud and clean up government. His platform has won him the support of billionaire car dealer Norman Braman.
“We have been good friends for over twenty years. He was a Republican; I was a Democrat. He has supported me in previous races. His participation is very limited,” Garcia said.
Barreiro said he is running on his record: A champion of transit for seniors, the Metrorail’s expansion to the airport, and the Marlins Ballpark.
While the stadium decision was widely unpopular, Barreiro points out it’s already stimulating Little Havana. Long term, he expects big returns.
“What happened with the Miami Heat when they won their championship? You couldn’t buy that publicity, worldwide, not only nationwide but worldwide. Hopefully we’ll see that occur with the Marlins.”
“I feel very confident that we will win,” Garcia told CBS4, but both candidates said that. Back in August, the primary came down to a handful of ballots.
“It is what it is. That’s the democratic process and nine votes from avoiding a runoff. With that said I think it shows the importance of every vote,” Barreiro said.
Barreiro has run for office in the legislature in November before. This is the first time though in his 14 years as a commissioner he’s up for re-election in a high turnout election.