Wednesday, March 16, 2011

9 out of 10 Vote To Recall Miami-Dade Mayor

From the Miami Herald:

Voters swept Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez out of office by a stunning margin Tuesday, capping a dramatic collapse for a politician who was given increased authority by voters four years ago to clean up much-maligned county government but was ushered out in the largest recall of a local politician in U.S. history.

The spectacular fall from power comes after two years of missteps, ranging from granting top staffers big pay hikes to construction of a publicly funded stadium for the Florida Marlins to implementation of a property-tax rate increase that outraged an electorate struggling through an ugly recession.

Alvarez tried to fend off ouster by twice filing suit to block a recall vote. After the lawsuits went nowhere, he defended his record in speeches, radio and television appearances and paid advertisements, arguing that he made the tough calls to preserve vital services for residents.

But voters responded by handing the mayor a humiliating defeat: Nearly nine of every 10 voted to remove Alvarez from office.

“The voters have spoken and a time of healing and reconciliation must now begin,’’ Alvarez said in a statement Tuesday night. “No matter which side of the recall issue, one thing is certain: We all care very deeply about this community… I wish the next mayor of Miami-Dade County much success.”

County Commissioner Natacha Seijas was also recalled.

An overwhelming 88 percent of those who turned out to vote in District 13, which includes Hialeah and Miami Lakes, backed the recall of Seijas, who has ruled over the western county region for 18 years.

The commissioner had mounted a major defense to the recall campaign, angling to differentiate herself from Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez, an unpopular figure also on the ballot who was viewed as more vulnerable to ouster.

Seijas made no public comment Tuesday night. An aide, Terry Murphy, said in an email: “She will not be participating in any media stories about the election results.’’

In a way, I agree with Norman Braman, the power behind the recall effort: this is not a happy event. There are still problems — both financial and ethical — that need to be solved in Miami-Dade, and this is not going to do that. Good luck indeed to the next mayor.