MIAMI (CN) - Miami elects a new mayor today in a special election, with 2 Live Crew frontman Luther Campbell in the running. "I understand that not everyone appreciates the music that I did over 25 years ago," Campbell told Courthouse News. "However, I'm now 50 years old, and I have a genuine concern for this community."
Former Mayor Carlos Alvarez was recalled by 88 percent of voters in January, after billionaire car dealer and former Philadelphia Eagles owner Norman Braman bankrolled the recall.
The political storm exploded when Alvarez and the City Council, facing a large budget deficit, raised property taxes and gave raises to county employees.
Campbell and Braman spoke with Courthouse News about the long-awaited election.
Campbell, a native of Miami, is no stranger to politics or courtrooms. As leader 2 Live Crew, whose Southern rap style was known as Miami Bass, Campbell became involved in high-profile First Amendment cases involving lyrics, parody and profanity.
Campbell said voters are willing to accept him as a legitimate candidate.
"I have a plan and vision to move Miami-Dade forward," Campbell said. "I have a platform that deals with real issues and providing solutions for those issues.
"We have been to churches, nursing homes, community forums and around the neighborhoods throughout Dade County. People have been supportive and energized."
Campbell feels he has a good chance to trump the other 19 contenders. He says his campaign rallies have been going well.
"I believe that being a community servant for the last 25 years makes me the most qualified because not only am I connected to the community and the issues that they experience, but I believe that the community believes that I represent their interests and not that of lobbyists or special interest groups and they trust me to help alleviate the issues they face.
"I believe that the other candidates only focus on the money from the state and federal government that has been cut, and not the resources of Miami-Dade that are readily available to be exploited without extra cost. For example, I believe a comprehensive plan to bring in more tourism dollars should be implemented. That requires a level of creativity and vision that I do not believe the other candidates have."
One of his proposals to increase city revenue is to tax strippers.
"The tax has more to do with the safety and welfare of young women. If young women were required to register and pay a fee to dance for a living, then I believe at the very least that it would deter underage dancing and would provide a mechanism to keep clubs from hiring underage girls. That is very important."
Campbell has plans for Miami's deflated housing market.
"I want to see people keep their homes. I know that there are programs in place to help homeowners stay in their homes. I would like make those programs more readily available and accessible to those facing foreclosure," he said.
Asked who he thought was his toughest competition, Campbell said, "[Hialeah Mayor Julio] Robaina, because he has a lot of money."
Braman, the man behind the recall, is a veteran of South Florida politics. He has filed legal complaints challenging the $3 billion remake of downtown Miami and fought taxes for public transportation and Miami Orange Bowl renovations. He needed 50,000 signatures for a recall election to be called; he turned in 90,000.
Asked what he thought of Campbell's candidacy, Braman said, "It's wonderful. He's added a little drama and brought something to the table. He's behaved in a very serious way and I'm pleased that he knows a lot about the issues."
Braman said regards Campbell's plan to tax strippers as "a nice tongue in cheek thing."
Braman said he is pleased with how the city is progressing post-recall.
"It depends upon who's elected, but with the three major candidates, I'm confident that we are going to have meaningful changes."
Braman, who has not endorsed a candidate, said, "I think we have a good group of candidates, and which ever one wins, I'll be satisfied with."
In addition to Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina, Campbell faces two-term Miami-Dade County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez and former state legislator Marcelo Llorente, none of whom returned requests for comments.
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