MIAMI (CBSMiami) – One of the most heated and most watched races in South Florida is that for Miami-Dade State Attorney.

Incumbent Katherine Fernandez Rundle has been State Attorney for 27 years. The year, Melba Pearson is challenging her for the job.

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Pearson, who is a Deputy Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, worked as a prosecutor and assistant state attorney under Rundle for 15 years. She said a change is needed.

“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.

Rundle said her record speaks for itself.

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“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.

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.


Rundle said over the years she 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.

Whoever wins the race will work alongside the county’s new mayor who will be decided in the November election.

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For information on the races in Florida’s Primary, go to