County mayoral race will be a runoff in November

Government By David L. Snelling, Reporter Friday, August 21, 2020

Miami-Dade County Commissioners Esteban Bovo Jr. and Danielle Levine Cava are headed for a run-off in November to decide the next mayor of Miami-Dade County.
The top two vote-getters failed to pick up at least 50 percent of the votes to win the election, forcing them to meet again on Election Day.
Bovo won 122,039 votes or 29% to Levine Cava's nearly 29% percent or 119,946 votes, according to the Miami-Dade County Elections Department.
Bovo, 58, has served on the commission since 2011 and is term-limited this year. Levine Cava, 64, joined the commission in 2014 and will vacate her seat early to run for mayor.
The two candidates hope to replace Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who is term-limited and is running for Congress.
The winner in November will oversee 28,000 employees, an annual budget of $9 billion and serve 2.7 million residents.
The next mayor will also oversee operations at the Port of Miami and Miami International Airport.
Former County Mayor Alex Penelas, 58, failed in his effort to win his old office.
Penelas finished third with 24 % or 102,152 votes; 71 year-old County Commissioner Xavier Suarez (whose son Francis Suarez is the mayor of Miami) was fourth with 10 % or 43,762 votes.
Political newcomers Monique Nicole Barley, 37, a businesswoman, won 5 %, or 22,789 votes; and 42-year-old Ludmilla Domond, a Realtor, won 1 % or 5,218 votes.
Entrepreneur Carlos De Armas, who appeared as a candidate during the July 17 debate in town, was a write-in candidate, according to the elections department.
Write-in candidates won 713 votes; their names weren’t mentioned in the results list.
Levine Cava thanked supporters after the primary election results were announced.
"I feel your energy," she said in a speech at her campaign headquarters that was shown on social media. "I give thanks to everyone who believed in this campaign. They gave their time and votes because they believed in our cause. The voters believe that Miami-Dade deserves leaders with a vision, integrity and results."
Levine Cava founded Catalyst Miami, an organization that assists low-and-middle-income people with finances and health care.
Bovo also thanked his supporters on social media.
Money didn’t determine the winner in this race.
Penelas, an attorney and Miami Lakes resident, was the top fundraiser with $5.1 million, followed by Levine Cava with $3.7 million and Bovo, who had $2.2 million, according to Miami-Dade Elections.
Penelas said on social media, "I've learned you can still make a difference even if you don't win."
The majority of voters cast their ballots by mail.
Among 1,499,402 registered voters in Miami-Dade County, 423,320 ballots were filled out for all primary races and voter turnout was 28 %.
For the county mayoral race, 416,617 votes were cast.
Though the mayoral race is non-partisan, Bovo labels himself a conservative Republican while Penelas and Levine Cava are both Democrats but also pursued Republican voters.
Locally, Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid, Vice Mayor Nelson Rodriguez and Councilman Carlos Alvarez all endorsed Bovo for county mayor.
They held a press conference Aug. 10 outside the Mary Collins Community Center, an early voting site, and announced their support for Bovo, who was also there.
Councilmembers Marilyn Ruano, Joshua Dieguez and Jeff Rodriguez endorsed Penelas.
After Bovo won, Ruano, Dieguez and Rodriguez announced on social media they were supporting him.
"I want to congratulate my friend Commissioner Bovo for tonight's victory," Cid said on social media. "On to the runoff!"
Cid also wished Penelas well after his defeat.
"He is a resident of Miami Lakes, a great family man and someone [who has] volunteered his time previously in our community."
In the race to replace Bovo on the county dais, former Fla. Sen. and state Rep. Rene Garcia defeated newcomer Adrian Jesus Jimenez.
Garcia, 46, picked up 18,740 votes or 77 % to Jimenez's 22 % or 5,557 votes.
Garcia is co-founder and vice president of marketing and public relations at New Century Partnership, which specializes in healthcare services management, business development, and compliance, according to the firm’s website.
Garcia couldn't be reached for comment.
Jimenez, 24, an insurance case analyst from Hialeah, congratulated Garcia and hopes to work with him on issues affecting District 13, including affordable housing, traffic and helping businesses that are suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"There are a lot of folks who are tired of the same old politics and are seeking a change," Jimenez said. "The way I see it is at the end of the day, you have to represent everyone."
Attorney Thomas Fabricio, 43, of Miramar defeated Miami Lakes Vice Mayor Nelson Rodriguez, 53, who were vying for State Rep. District 103. Fabricio won 60 % or 5,054 votes.
"We're very excited and it was a hard-fought campaign," said Fabricio. "We will continue with the same effort and take it all the way to November."
Rodriguez, who's term-limited on the town council this year, received 3,307 votes, or 39 %.
Fabricio is endorsed by State Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., and will face incumbent State Rep. Cindy Polo, D-Miramar on Nov. 3. Polo ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Rodriguez, a Coral Gables firefighter/paramedic who recently recovered from COVID-19, said on Facebook: "Unfortunately, we were not successful in today's election results for the Florida House for Representatives. But this is not the end of the road. I will continue to support our community."
Rodriguez's last day on the town dais will be Nov. 3.


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