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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Current school board member Raquel Regalado made it official Monday–she will challenge Mayor Carlos Gimenez in 2016’s mayoral election.
Regalado, daughter of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, is the first official challenger to Miami-Dade Mayor Gimenez, now in his second term.
“I’ve been critical of Carlos Gimenez and the direction in which he’s taking our county,” said Regalado Monday.
Regalado, 40, is critical of Gimenez of what she sees is a failure to lead on important roadway and public transit issues. She slammed him for leaving 600 vacant positions at the police department.
“There’s some people in the unincorporated areas that have to wait over two and a half hours for a police officer to respond,” said Regalado.
Regalado hopes to get the support of county unions whose benefits Gimenez has cut to avoid tax hikes.
She has the apparent approval of billionaire Norman Braman who joined her in opposing the use of tax dollars for the private Sky Rise Miami project on the Bay. Gimenez supports the proposed mega mall, theme park in the Northwest County–which Regalado thinks is a tourist trap that would provide largely low-paying job.
Regalado makes $35,000 a year as a school board member and has had a home foreclosed on, which she says makes her “more relevant.”
Regalado said she can relate to those struggling to pay her bills and knows Gimenez will out spend her by millions.
“I will be there for her front and center,” said Mayor Tomas Regalado Monday.
Only County Commissioner Xavier Suarez is among others who has expressed interest in possibly running.
“This will begin a very interesting campaign going area by area, meeting with residents,” said Regalado.
Regalado said she will rely heavily on social media.
A spokesperson for Gimenez said the Mayor will have no comment on Regalado’s criticism or entering the race.
Barry University political science professor, Dr. Sean Foreman told CBS4’s Gary Nelson that Gimenez is a well-entrenched, populist mayor who will be difficult to defeat.
Foreman said Regalado may benefit from organized union support, but that she also needs to add a platform to her complaints about Gimenez.
“She needs to present a vision,” Foreman said. “What is she going to do differently for Miami-Dade county.”