MIAMI (CN) – Miami-Dade County voters recalled Mayor Carlos Alvarez in a special election Tuesday by an overwhelming margin. The recall sets up another election in which Luther Campbell, of 2 Live Crew, will vie for the mayor’s office.
Eighty-eight percent of voters wanted Alvarez gone, with barely a year left in his second term.
Billionaire car dealer Norman Braman fueled the high-powered political feud after the City Council and Alvarez, facing a large budget deficit, raised property taxes and gave raises to county employees.
“County voters have demonstrated by their ballots that they are tired of unaccountable officials, of being ignored and of being overtaxed in this very difficult recessionary time,” Braman told reporters.
Eighty-eight percent of the 204,519 ballots cast wanted Alvarez out.
Under the County Charter, the County Commission has 30 days to appoint a new mayor or call a special election, to be held within 45 days.
The commission is expected to call another election, as Braman wishes, and due to the restive electorate.
“I wish the next mayor of Miami-Dade County much success,” Alvarez said in a statement Tuesday night. “It has been an honor and privilege to serve this community for the past 35 years. The voters have spoken and a time of healing and reconciliation must now begin. No matter which side of the recall issue, one thing is certain: We all care very deeply about this community.”
Hip-hop star Luther Campbell, now a columnist for Miami New Times, explained his bid for office this way: “I feel it’s time to clean this shit up.”
Campbell will face two-term Miami-Dade County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez, Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina and former state legislator Marcelo Llorente.
The man behind the recall, Braman, a car dealer, 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.
Alvarez was director of the Miami-Dade Police Department before becoming Miami-Dade County mayor. He launched several unsuccessful attempts to stop the recall, including suing Braman and the clerk of Miami-Dade County Court, Harvey Ruvin, claiming the wrong clerk had approved the recall petition.
Alvarez wasn’t the only one with his head on the chopping block. In District 13, which includes the northwestern Miami-Dade cities of Hialeah and Miami Lakes, the first Hispanic woman to be elected to the County Commission, Natacha Seijas, was voted out of office after 18 years, also by 88 percent of the district’s 19,362 voters.
Miami-Dade County is comprised of 35 incorporated cities, including Miami, and several unincorporated areas.