MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Miami-Dade County will get a new mayor to oversee a $9-billion budget and move the county into a new normal.

Current County Mayor Carlos Gimenez cannot run for a third consecutive term.

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But a person who wants a third term is former county Mayor Alex Penelas, who served two terms until 2004. One question was about water contamination and sewage, which he said COVID-19 relief money can help.

“We can access state money, I think, for a lot of our septic tank needs. There may be some federal dollars available, especially now; this era of economic recovery after COVID,” Penelas said.

In a candidate forum at Second Baptist Church Thursday, the six hopefuls on the ballot tried to make their case to an online audience mostly in the South Miami-Dade area.

They were asked about a big issue that brought thousands to the streets during the pandemic, which is law enforcement and accountability. They all agreed defunding is not an option.

County commissioners Daniella Levine Cava, Steve Bovo and Xavier Suarez made their case.

“We need to give incentives for people to live in the neighborhoods they’re policing. We need to do a better job with training with non-violent tactics, as well as mediation and de-escalation,” Levine Cava said.

“I have filed legislation to make sure that bad officers that have a history will not get hired by our department that are coming from other departments because we do want to make sure the bad apples are weeded out,” Bovo said.

“One of the things that are important is to have the right people at the top. When I was mayor of the city of Miami, we had three African American police chiefs, the first time in history,” Suarez said.

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Newcomers real estate broker Ludmilla Domond and businesswoman Monique Barley are also trying to replace Gimenez.

They also gave suggestions on how to help people get back on their feet who want to buy and rent homes, especially after losing money during the pandemic.

“Miami-Dade County does have available land including for those who are renting. Miami-Dade County has homes that we can revitalize and revamp,” Domond said.

“I think that we should come up with a financial plan for small business owners and also the residents here in Miami-Dade County,” Barley said.

The election is less than three weeks ago.

Voters will select a county mayor on August 18th. If nobody receives a simple majority, a runoff will be on November 3rd.

The term is scheduled to start November 17th.

If you want to review the forum, watch below:

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