The funding, he said, could come from hotel-bed, convention-development and sports-franchise taxes.
Saying he would “absolutely not” support that move, Garcia mocked Barreiro’s suggestion: “What’s a few million dollars among friends?”
The Dolphins and Marlins have contributed to Barreiro’s campaign and to third-party political committees backing him.
Garcia has the endorsement of Miami auto magnate Norman Braman, who recruited a slate of candidates to challenge incumbent commissioners. Garcia is the last one left standing; Braman’s political committee has mailed fliers highlighting Barreiro’s support for the stadium and trying to tie him to ousted county Mayor Carlos Alvarez.
Barreiro has fought back, saying that Garcia voted for state legislation in 2007 that would have provided the Marlins with $2 million a year in state sales tax revenues. Garcia calls the comparison “disingenuous,” because other professional sports teams get the same benefit — and because $2 million a year would have been far less than the county’s $376 million ballpark contribution.
Barreiro also has pounced on Garcia’s three public pensions — two from his years as a Miami Beach firefighter and city commissioner, and a third for his time in the Legislature. Barreiro has a public pension, too — though instead of having two, for his time in the House and on the Miami-Dade Commission, he technically has only one because the state and county use the same pension system.
Last week’s debate grew increasingly tense as the attacks between the rivals became more pointed and personal. They traded accusations of leaving their offices unstaffed while their employees take leaves of absence to campaign. Garcia jabbed Barreiro for not speaking up very much at commission meetings.
And Barreiro claimed Garcia does not spend every night at his house in the Roads — a notion Garcia, a widower and father of three grown sons, quickly put behind him, saying his fiancée has a house outside the district.
The two candidates live only a few blocks from each other; Garcia countered that neighbors usually see Barreiro’s parents and not him, his wife or their two children. Barreiro later told The Miami Herald that was untrue and that his parents and an aunt live in two bungalows on his property.
Garcia is a proponent of term limits for commissioners and said he would only serve eight years if elected, regardless of whether voters approve those limits in the upcoming election. While Barreiro agreed to put eight-year terms before voters, he has in the past argued for longer terms, and he indicated at the debate that he opposes self-imposed limits.
“Doesn’t that put our district at a disadvantage?” he said.
Retorted Garcia: “Your performance should be reason enough to put term limits.”