Miami-Dade Has an Election on November 5
In case your attention has been diverted for the last month or so, I feel duty-bound to point out that there is a general election in Miami-Dade County scheduled for November 5.
What? You didn’t know that? Well, consider yourself absolved if you read the rest of this post—especially those of you who live in the cities of Miami, Miami Beach, Hialeah, or Homestead, where municipal offices are at stake.
It’s too late to register to vote for this election, but if you’re already registered, you can request an absentee ballot as late as October 30. Early voting will continue until November 3. For other information, or to get a sample ballot, go to the county’s website here.
Jackson Bond Issue: For most of us in Miami-Dade, there is only one thing to vote on: Whether or not to approve an $830 million bond issue to fund repairs, upgrades, and new equipment for the public Jackson Memorial Hospital system. Hospital administrators say that now that Jackson is back on a sounder financial footing the funds are needed to make its services and facilities competitive with other hospitals in the area. They note, correctly, that Jackson is the primary provider of hospital care for the county’s uninsured residents (about 1 out of every 4) as well as Medicaid recipients.
So, should you vote YES? I’m still on the fence on this one. The bond issue has the endorsement of the Miami Herald. I generally support bonds that improve or maintain essential public institutions—particularly those that benefit the less-well-off members of the community, as Jackson clearly does.
However, others whose opinions I respect are urging a NO vote. Eye on Miami, who does a better job than just about anyone of keeping an eye on the money sloshing around this town, makes an argument for just saying no. I asked my neighbor, who just retired from Jackson’s medical staff, what he thought, and he said he might be inclined to vote no because he thought the system had over-expanded and needed to consolidate its operations.
I’m leaning toward voting yes anyway.
City of Miami. Up for vote are the mayor and two council positions: Districts 3 and 5.
There’s no real race for mayor since city Commissioner Francis Suarez dropped out as a candidate, leaving incumbent Tomas Regalado a virtual shoo-in. Three other candidates have filed for the office but have raised almost no money for a campaign.
The interesting thing is that only a few months ago, Suarez (son of former Miami mayor Xavier Suarez) had the backing of Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez and most of the city’s establishment and had raised more money than Regalado. Then, suddenly, in late August he announced that he was no longer running, citing his wife’s long-awaited pregnancy as the reason. However, the announcement also closely followed two of his campaign officers pleading no contest to absentee ballot fraud—the besetting sin of Miami-Dade politics.
For Regalado, this was a gift from heaven. The mayor has had his own problems since taking over in 2009, including an effort in 2011 by the police and firefighters union to recall him. The Miami New Times published an article listing 10 reasons why Regalado should be recalled. Regalado defended his positions (for example in this TV interview), and ultimately nothing came of it. But jeez, it’s hard to tell the bad guys from the good guys in Miami!
Anyway, it doesn’t really matter because Regalado will stay on as mayor.
The ballot also includes a proposal to revamp the Coconut Grove waterfront, which needs voter approval to proceed.
City of Miami Beach: At stake are the mayor and three council members, as well as several propositions including one adding a non-discrimination paragraph to the city’s charter. You can find a sample ballot as well as other voting information at the city’s website here.
For mayor, the Herald has endorsed Michael Gongora, who is currently the Group 3 commissioner. Gongora, who is openly gay, has also received the endorsement of the gay rights groups Equality Florida, which has also endorsed Sherry Roberts, Jorge Esposito, and Matti Herrera Bower for the three council seats. SAVE Dade, another gay rights group, has made a similar endorsement. Phillip Levine, however, claims Bill Clinton’s endorsement as well as that of Sen. Bill Nelson. Here’s Miami Beach blogger Random Pixels on Levine. Political Cortadito likes Steve Berke. The Miami New Times has a pithy rundown on the candidates here. Looks hard to choose, really.
City of Hialeah: Hialeah is electing the mayor and three council members. The city’s election information website is here. There is a link on the page to get a sample ballot, but when I clicked on it, I just got the Notice of Election, not a sample ballot.
Venturing into the murky waters of Hialeah politics is not for novices like me. If you’re interested, check out the blog Political Cortadito, e.g., this post here. So far, I haven’t seen an endorsement from the Herald for anyone for the mayor’s race, but here’s one from the Examiner for Juan Santana, who looks like a very long shot.
City of Homestead: Homestead is electing a mayor, vice mayor, and one councilmember. For information and a sample ballot, go to the city’s election website here.
The incumbent mayor, Steve Bateman, was arrested in August and charged with illegal compensation.
The Homestead election comes with its very own absentee ballot fraud scandal involving campaign workers for mayoral candidate Mark Bell. Bell is the husband of Miami-Dade commissioner Lynda Bell, who is perhaps the most anti-progressive, anti-gay, anti-environment official in the county. Lynda Bell seems never to have met a developer she didn’t like, and led the opposition to a proposed amendment that would have added gender identity to the county’s existing anti-discrimination ordinance. In September, a recall effort was started against her, which has been joined by SAVE Dade, a gay rights organization.
Voting for Mark Bell would effectively make Lynda Bell mayor of Homestead as well as county commissioner. His opponent, Jeff Porter, looks like much the better candidate. Update: Eye on Miami endorses Porter; see his comments here.