MIAMI (CBSMiami) –One of Miami’s most controversial political figures, Joe Carollo, is back.
The former mayor and commissioner wants to be a commissioner again and he’ll face a runoff against a newcomer next Tuesday.
County Commissioner Xavier Suarez, a former Miami mayor himself, is actively supporting Carollo’s rival Alfonso “Alfie” Leon, according to our news partners at the Miami Herald.
“I’m not beholdin’ to anybody but my neighbors. I’m only beholdin’ to my neighbors. I’ve knocked twenty thousand doors and I know what they care about,” said Leon.
His opponent Carollo is credited with getting the city out of financial meltdown as mayor, a city again facing financial strain.
“After sixteen years, this November, that I’ve been out of elected office, I see the Miami we have now is not the Miami I left,” said Carollo.
Carollo is known for some odd behavior, calling political enemies communists. He was charged with domestic violence when his then-wife accused him of throwing a tea box at her.
It was ugly, years later when Carollo was fired.
“There was an ambush being planned,” said Carollo the night he was fired.
“I’m going to listen to my neighbors. I’m going to listen to the community, and I’m not going to have arguments. I’m going to have discussions,” said Leon.
Xavier Suarez, a longtime foe of Carollo, has been helping Leon raise money and campaign for the runoff since the 32-year-old attorney came in second to Carollo in Tuesday’s general election.
“Xavier Suarez is our county commissioner, and if we’re going to do things for our city, we have to work with the county commission,” said Leon.
On Saturday, Suarez, who is the father of the now Mayor-Elect Francis Suarez, has not been shy about his distaste for Carollo, telling a reporter earlier in the week that his distaste for him goes back to 1987.
That’s when the two men were political opponents.
Xavier Suarez beat Carollo in the 1997 mayor’s race only to have a judge overturn the results due to evidence of absentee ballot fraud.
A judge later found Xavier Suarez had not been aware of the illegal activity.
But Carollo says the grapes are still sour.
“I won that election. Get over it,” said Carollo.
Miami’s new mayor, Francis Suarez isn’t taking sides in the commission runoff.
“I know that with a new mayor and a commission that wants to move forward, we can’t look back,” said Leon.
“I want to make sure that I come back and give Miami the stability that it needs,” said Carollo.
Newcomer Leon knows victory for him will mean getting most of those who voted for other candidates in the first race to vote for him over the more colorful and recognizable Carollo next week.