MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s spokesperson is responding Tuesday, a day after retired Miami-Dade Firefighter Jack Garcia who lost his son in a Fourth of July boating accident, told CBS4 News that he wants to start a petition to recall Gimenez.
Mayor Gimenez would not speak on camera about the effort to attempt to recall him, but his spokesperson, Mike Hernandez, told CBS4’s Natalia Zea that this is purely a politicization of a tragic accident.
Garcia said Monday that he misses his son Andrew Garcia more and more every day.
“This has been the worst thing imaginable—it’s like someone taking your right arm and cutting it off and saying this is what your life’s going to be like,” Garcia said.
Garcia’s son, Andy, along with Victoria Dempsey, Kelsie Karpiak and Jason Solemani lost their lives on Biscayne Bay July fourth.
Since the incident, Garcia has jumped into action slamming Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez for cutting the fire department’s budget—leading them to take the fireboats out of service three years ago. Now he’s planning to start the petition to recall the mayor.
“We need 50,000 signatures and I am going to start next week,” said Garcia. “I’ve got lots of support behind me.”
As the fireboats remain idle, Garcia responded to speculation his son might have been drinking on the night of the accident.
“I don’t know that, but it would have been out of character for him,” said Garcia.
The Miami-Dade Fire Union has been supportive of Garcia since the accident and has publicly criticized the Mayor on the fireboat issue. The Mayor’s office, though, say they can only blame themselves for shooting down his proposal to only staff the fireboats when needed—instead of keeping a full time crew on the boats.
Mayor’s spokesman Hernandez says Gimenez empathizes with Garcia’s loss but he doesn’t agree he nor the county has any share in the blame.
CBS4’s Zea asked Hernandez how the potential recall threat will impact the Mayor. Hernandez responded, “It won’t, he’s not going to govern on the threat of recall. He feels he has done what is in the best interest of this county.”
The Mayor says he stands by his record on public safety and is not affected by the recall effort.
Zea spoke with the head of the Miami-Dade Fire Union, which has supported Garcia and stood behind him in criticizing the Mayor. But when it comes to officially backing Garcia’s recall efforts, President Al Cruz said only, “We are not taking a position on the recall efforts at this point.” He also said the first he had heard of it was by watching CBS4 News’ exclusive report.