Special Election To Take Place May 24thBy Jim DeFede

MIAMI (CBS4) – Miami-Dade County Commissioners have formally decided on a day to hold a special election in the race for a new mayor and District 13 commissioner. The special election will take place on May 24th.

Those looking to throw their hats into the political arena better do it quickly because the commission also decided to set a qualifying date for the race which is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday April 12th.

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Both the mayoral and District 13 commission seat were left vacant after a March 15 recall election in which 88 percent of those who voted said then Mayor Carlos Alvarez and Commissioner Natcha Seijas should be removed from office.

Mayor candidates so far include Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina, former county transit director Roosevelt Bradley, former state Rep. Marcelo Llorente, County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez, and 2 Live Crew front man Luther Campbell.

The entire official field of candidates won’t be known until Tuesday evening, after the window for qualifying closes.

So how much is this election going to cost?

“Elections historically cost anywhere in the neighborhood of $4 to $5 million so it’s hard to tell at this point,” said Elections Supervisor Lester Sola. “But we are anticipating that it’ll fall anywhere between those ranges.”

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Sola explained it’s not cheap to run an election. “You have to consume certain resources, you have to prepare ballots, you have to print those ballots, you have to push those ballots to 829 precincts in Miami-Dade County.”

Commission Chairman Joe Martinez said it’s time to get these elections over with.

“Taking everything into consideration, it’s time to start governing, we have to stop reacting and managing by crisis,” said Martinez.

Also on the May 24th ballot will be half a dozen proposed charter reforms which critics have called self serving and weak.

Perhaps one of the most vocal critics of the charter proposals is Miami auto tycoon Norman Braman who launched the campaign to have Alvarez recalled.

Earlier this month he sent a letter to each of the 12 county commissioners in which he stated their proposed amendments to the charter “fail miserably to reflect the public’s demand for reform of county government.’’

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Commissioner Gimenez has said that commissioners should remove the ballot proposals regarding a 12-year term limit and ending the strong-mayor system, two items he voted against. Gimenez has said, however, that the other ideas — such as removing the notary requirement on ballot petitions and allowing two-thirds of a charter review task force to place items directly on the ballot — have merit and should go forward.

Jim DeFede