Miami City Commissioner Keon Hardemon automatically won four more years in office when nobody filed Saturday to run against him in the November elections.
The city’s qualifying deadline to run for office on Nov. 7 came and went Saturday evening without a challenger for Hardemon, who represents Overtown, Liberty City, Wynwood and the Upper Eastside in the city’s fifth district. Meanwhile, though the mayor’s race looks like it’s over before it’s begun, campaigns for two open commission seats in the city’s third and fourth districts drew a combined 10 candidates, including three from would-be political dynasties.
In the race for the District 3 seat being vacated by term-limited Commissioner Frank Carollo, the commissioner’s older brother, Joe Carollo, is among the candidates headlining an extremely crowded field. The former mayor faces a challenge from Zoraida Barreiro — a healthcare executive and the wife of County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro — and Tomás N. “Tommy” Regalado, a TV Martí producer and reporter and the son of lame-duck Mayor Tomás P. Regalado.
The field also includes pharmaceutical executive Alex Dominguez, attorney Alfonso “Alfie” Leon, Soliman Structures president Miguel Soliman, and local SEIU chapter communications director José Suárez. Given Miami’s laws requiring that candidates win a majority of the vote, a runoff election seems likely.
In District 3 it could get real interesting depending on how personal the candidates get with each other.
Sean Foreman, political science professor
Sean Foreman, a political science professor at Barry University who studies local politics, thinks that Miami voters are likely to see a sleepy campaign season that, during an off-election year, lacks a competitive mayor’s race. “But in District 3 it could get real interesting depending on how personal the candidates get with each other.”
Combined, the candidates in the race had close to $600,000 in hard and soft campaign cash at their disposal entering September. That means plenty of events, television spots and ads around Little Havana through November and maybe beyond, with city laws requiring a runoff election if no one receives more than 50 percent of the vote.
“It seems like a jumbled field. Until we see a poll with clear indication, it’s anybody’s ball game,” Foreman said.
The other competitive race on the ballot, for District 4, features marketing firm owner Denise Galvez Turros, Westland Hialeah Senior High teacher Manuel “Manolo” Reyes, and urban planning consultant Ralph Rosado. In July, a poll by Miami’s International Association of Firefighters showed that Reyes, who has the support of the union, held a significant lead on Rosado.
But a poll conducted in late August by The Kitchens Group and released this month by the Rosado campaign shows the two men are neck and neck heading into the final weeks of the campaign. Rosado, whose camp spent $90,000 from July to September, said voters are responding to his campaign.
“Our message is resonating with voters,” Rosado said.
The race is an odd one. Officially, Reyes and Rosado first opened their campaign accounts way back in 2013 after Francis Suarez announced a run for mayor. They froze their campaigns when Suarez gave up his bid and waited four years for him to run again.
“I’m taking votes from them daily,” said Galvez, who only launched her campaign in May. “I’ve been at it for three months and I’m gaining on them.”
The seat is on the November ballot rather than scheduled as a special election because Suarez temporarily resigned this summer and was reappointed through November by the city’s other four commissioners in order to allow them to set the vote for Nov. 7. Suarez has opponents — West Grove retiree Williams Armbrister, businessman Christian Canache and Socialist Workers Party member Cynthia Mason Jaquith — but none can rival his profile, campaign machine or war chest.
Also on the November ballot: a $400 million general obligation bond, a new lease to facilitate pricey renovations at Monty’s Raw Bar in Coconut Grove, and several charter amendments intended to clear up technical snags with the city’s elections and auditor staffing.