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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The race for Miami-Dade mayor is on.
Incumbent Mayor Carlos Gimenez submitted his qualifying documents Friday to formalize his candidacy, officially setting up a contentious campaign against Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado, who submitted her resignation last month.
“They should elect me because I’ve done a good job,” said Gimenez. “And I’ve also protected their money, we’ve reduced taxes about a billion dollars over the last four years, kept all my promises. And we’ve run a good, competent and transparent government.”
Mayor Gimenez has held the line on property taxes. Critics would say it was at the expense of public safety, libraries and other services.
But as property values rise, Gimenez is proposing a budget that would restore many of the cuts that followed the great recession.
Regalado, 40, will serve on the board until November. Her stint officially ends November 21st, the day before the next mayoral term begins.
Regalado, whose father is Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, has been critical of Gimenez for what she calls a failure to lead on important roadway and public transit issues. She’s also slammed him for leaving 600 vacant positions at the police department.
Regalado hopes to get the support of county unions whose benefits Gimenez has cut to avoid tax hikes. She’ll need more than that.
In a poll last month, Gimenez held an 18-percentage point lead over his two challengers — Regalado and political newcomer Alfred Santamaría.
Gimenez will need 50 percent plus 1 in the August 30th election to avoid a run-off in November.
While Gimenez was leading the race, he needs to bolster support among traditional Democratic voters to win — particularly African Americans, according to the poll.