With his hat in the ring for next year’s election for mayor of Miami-Dade County, Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe A. Martinez pledged to a Kendall audience on Mar. 7 that he would not seek an interim appointment or temporary election for the unexpired term of recalled Mayor Carlos Alvarez.
In his first appearance before the Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations (KFHA) as commission chair, Martinez declared, “My parents taught me to finish what I start and that’s what I intend to do for a full two years.”
Elected by fellow commission members as chair for two years, succeeding Dennis Moss on Jan. 1, 2010, Martinez said he “could not predict what may happen after a recall of the mayor. We’ll just have to wait to until after Mar. 15 to make a decision on an interim position.”
An interim mayor may be appointed by county commissioners or they can call a special election to fill the remaining 21 months of Alvarez’s second four-year term.
Warned Martinez, “If a majority of the commission votes for a special election, and with all the names already seeking the job, it’s very likely we’ll then have to hold a runoff. That means twice the expense for a temporary mayor by election, on top of the recall.
“Residents have lost faith in their elected officials; they need someone they can trust and offer true leadership, as well as someone with experience,” he said at the beginning of an hour-long appearance before more than 100 attending the KFHA meeting.
Martinez emphasized the importance of changing the Miami-Dade Charter to “extend term limits for commissioners, even from eight to 12 years, because very simply, government is slow.
“It takes time to be effective in making changes or seeing projects through from start to finish,” he declared. “It’s been nearly 10 years getting a senior center and assisted living facilities built due to permitting and funding delays.”
Even so, commissioners should be paid a salary over the current $6,000 and expenses to attract the widest range of citizens to consider county service, he said.
Other comments during a lengthy question-and-answer session:
By setting ethics policies, commissioners “have already done all we can to stop employee violations of those standards” in answer to a complaint about bus drivers campaigning on behalf of Alvarez.
Potential incorporation and countywide commission seats will depend on how U.S. Census demographics create new apportioned districts, particularly in heavy-growth areas, likely to increase West Kendall to 200,000 residents.
“The most challenging task ahead is closing a $150 million gap still ahead to balance the budget for fiscal 2010-11.”
Jackson Memorial Hospital financing pivots on availability of $120 million in federal funding. If unavailable, a public-private partnership is likely, but any terms must protect taxpayer’s vested interest and taxing revenues.
Restructuring the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) to provide elected board members will require revising the state act creating an appointive membership that has approved new tolls on two Kendall expressways.