MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There’s nothing like running against your former boss in a high profile election. That’s exactly what is happening in the race for Miami-Dade State Attorney.
Kathy Fernandez Rundle has held the office for almost three decades and her challenger, Melba Pearson, says it is way past time for a change.
Pearson, a former prosecutor at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, is a Deputy Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.
“In the last 27 years, my opponent has never filed charges against an (police) officer for an on-duty killing. That’s not okay,” she said.
Pearson indicated she would file more cases against officers, even if chances of a conviction would be problematic due to Florida’s Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.
“After 27 years it is time to elect someone who really centers on the feelings of the people and can really connect with the people in a way my opponent can’t,” said Pearson.
“I have those who criticize me because I prosecute too many police officers and there are those that say we don’t do enough. That says to me that we are doing the right thing for the right number of cases,” said Fernandez Rundle.
The police prosecution issue has dogged Fernandez Rundle for some time.
“The notion that we don’t hold them accountable, that we don’t prosecute, that is just false,” she said.
Pearson has vowed to reduce the jail population by reforming the cash bail system she said discriminates against the poor. She also said she would try to keep juveniles out of adult court and root out discrimination and racial bias that she claims exists at every level of Miami-Dade’s criminal justice system.
“It is time for justice to be real and equitable for all people in Miami-dade County, not just the wealthy, not people of certain races but justice be equal for everyone,” she said.
Over the years Fernandez Rundle has instituted drug court, established a hate crime unit, has gone after human traffickers, and now supports a civilian review panel to keep an eye on police practices. She said crime under her watch is down 70 percent.
“Those are the things that I am most proud of. We have been able to bridge building, creating innovative programs,” she said.
For information on the races in Florida’s Primary, go to cbsmiami.com/campaign2020.