Friday, May 6, 2011

Vote Smart - Learn about the Miami-Dade County Mayoral Candidates

The Progressive Caucus, made up of various community and labor organizations in Miami-Dade County, including Catalyst Miami, will be hosting a mayoral candidate forum on Wednesday, May 18th. The forum will take place from 6:00 – 8:00 PM at IBEW 349 Union Hall, 1657 NW 17th Ave. Miami, Fl 33125. This forum will be a town-hall like dialogue between candidates and audience members with the purpose of answering impromptu questions, not just giving speeches. Haven't made up your mind yet? Have important questions? We urge ALL Miami-Dade County voters to attend and ask questions!

On Tuesday, May 3rd, Miami-Dade County Mayoral candidates debated in a policy forum hosted by the University of Miami and organized by The Miami Foundation. The forum, which focused on policy, not politics, asked the candidates to discuss pressing issues for Miami-Dade County voters such as unemployment, taxes, county budget, government transparency and transit issues. With less than three weeks until Election Day and with eleven candidates running, each attempted to say what set them apart from each other. Several of the candidates promised to lead by example and make government more transparent.

With government corruption a big issue for Miami-Dade County voters, candidates attempted to persuade the audience that they could regain trust through transparency. Former county commissioner Jose “Pepe” Cancio, who touted his winning headline would read “that old man did a great job”, pledged that he would immediately install a glass door in his office. Former County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez said he would ensure public access to correct information. Former state Rep. Marcello Llorente pledged to have a transparent government and to lead by example by not accepting perks and cutting car allowances. Former transit director Roosevelt Bradley, fired under Carlos Alvarez, also promised to cut perks.

All candidates said they would not increase taxes. In order to reconcile the deficit, former 2 Live Crew front man Luther Campbell said he would evaluate each county department and promised an internal audit that would undoubtedly lead to jail sentences for corruption. Cancio said he would cut the Mayor’s compensation package and benefits by fifty percent. Gimenez, who promised the same reduction, also vowed to cut the number of county departments in half. Former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina said he would restructure the county and make it smaller to cut spending.

All candidates agreed that bureaucracy and red tape hindered small businesses and large corporations from coming to Miami and creating jobs. Robaina said he would run the county like a business, work to attract new industries and invest in our convention center to attract business. Bradley, who stated he was the only candidate to create thousands of jobs, said he would work to attract large companies to bring large offices to the county. Cancio, who stated he created jobs in the private sector, said he would reduce red tape and regulations that dissuade companies to come to Miami-Dade County.

Miami-Dade transit was also a debated issue, given the $180 million Federal Transit Authority the county recently lost. Bradley stated the solution to transit issues was to take politics out of transportation. Campbell said his first move would be to re-hire Bradley as transit director. Campbell, who also said buses were ineffective, suggested making transit cool again. Llorente called the transit system “Metro Fail” and suggested more effective bus lanes and circular routes.

The election will take place on May 24th. If no candidate receives more than fifty percent of the votes, a run-off election between the top two candidates will take place on June 28th.

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