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One Miami-Dade commissioner claims victory. Another five pick up challengers

Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman won reelection to a final four-year term on Tuesday, June 19, when no other candidate filed to run against her in District 4. Five other commissioners face reelection campaigns against challengers.
Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman won reelection to a final four-year term on Tuesday, June 19, when no other candidate filed to run against her in District 4. Five other commissioners face reelection campaigns against challengers.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman won reelection to a final four-year term on Tuesday after nobody else filed to run in her coastal district, the lone incumbent to escape the qualifying deadline without a challenger in the 2018 election cycle.

The other five facing reelection this summer — Daniella Levine Cava, Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Jean Monestime, Rebeca Sosa and Javier Souto — each picked up at least one opponent before the noon deadline passed.

Among the challengers are a former county commissioner, a former Democratic nominee who took 48 percent of the vote in a 2016 Florida House race, and the brother of a former county commissioner who is also the brother-in-law of a candidate who ran in the June 19 special election to fill a vacant seat on the 13-member commission.

The county board has regular elections every other year, with odd-numbered districts holding contests in presidential years. For 2018, the even-numbered districts are up. But there's a twist: Bruno Barreiro resigned his District 5 seat in March to run for Congress, and the special election to replace him was under way Tuesday as the filing deadline arrived. The two candidates for District 5 were Eileen Higgins and Zoraida Barreiro, the former commissioner's wife. Higgins was declared the winner Tuesday night.

The District 5 contest set up Miami-Dade for six commission elections in one summer, with the even-numbered districts (minus Heyman in District 4) facing an Aug. 28 primary. If any candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, they win. Otherwise, the top two finishers face off in a November runoff on Election Day.

Each incumbent facing reelection will be running for a final four-year term, with term limits that voters approved in 2012 kicking in for the first time for this set of incumbents and requiring exits in 2022 if they win this year. Commissioners are now limited to serving two consecutive terms.

With the filing deadlines passed, the candidates for County Commission are:

District 2: Represents Hialeah, Miami, North Miami, North Miami Beach and Opa-locka

Monestime, a former commission chairman, unseated Dorrin Rolle to win the District 2 seat in 2010, pulling off a rare defeat of an incumbent. Rolle tried to do the same thing in 2014 when he ran unsuccessfully against Monestime. Now the two are locked into a second rematch. With only two candidates, the race will be decided in August.

Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Jean Monestime speaks during a 2016 press conference. He is running for reelection in 2018.

District 4: Represents more than a dozen cities, including Aventura, Miami Beach, North Miami and Sunny Isles Beach.

Heyman is a former Florida representative who was first elected to the commission in 2002.

District 6: Represents Hialeah, Coral Gables, West Miami and Miami Springs

Sosa, first elected in 2001, is a former mayor of West Miami and former commission chairwoman. She has one opponent: Maryin Vargas, an advocate for tougher protections for condo owners through her work with Reform Florida.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, who is running for reelection in 2018. MARICE COHN BAND Miami Herald File, 2013

District 8: Represents Cutler Bay, Homestead, Palmetto Bay

Levine Cava, a former head of a social-services charity, unseated Lynda Bell to take the District 8 seat in 2014. That race was considered a proxy battle for Republicans and Democrats in a nonpartisan contest, since Bell was a leader in local conservative circles and Levine Cava had the backing of the Democratic Party.

For her first reelection contest, Levine Cava picked up a last-minute challenger Tuesday in Gus Barreiro, a former Republican member of the Florida House and current employee at the county's children-services funding agency (the Children's Trust). He's also the brother of Bruno Barreiro, meaning that until polls closed Tuesday at 7 p.m., two Barreiros were running for County Commission.

Also running in District 8 are Jonathan A. Burke, a Cutler Bay resident, and Juan Fiol, also of Cutler Bay, who manages the website

cava at budget
Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava holds a map of bus routes to argue for retaining routes in her district in South Dade during a final budget hearing on Sept. 29, 2017. She is running for reelection in 2018. DOUGLAS HANKS

District 10: A suburban district that includes the neighborhoods of Fontainebleau, Kendall and Westchester:

Souto, a former state senator, is one of the two longest-serving members of the commission. Both he and Dennis Moss, who represents District 9 and was reelected two years ago, joined the board in 1993. He's running in the most crowded of the commission races, with four other candidates seeking his seat.

Those are Jose Garrido, a land-use consultant and former president of the Westchester Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce; Julio Sanchez, owner of a tech company in the Miami area; Alfredo Santamaria, a consultant who was fined $8,000 this year by Florida for campaign-finance violations in his 2016 race for Miami-Dade mayor; and Roberto Suarez Jr., a retired Miami-Dade firefighter from the neighborhood of Village Green.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Javier Souto during a meeting of the board. He is running for reelection in 2018. Héctor Gabino Miami Herald File

District 12: Representing Doral, Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens, Medley, Sweetwater, Virginia Gardens

Diaz is a former mayor of Sweetwater who was first elected to the commission in 2002. This is his first election since a 2015 arrest on a drunk-driving charge in Key West. Diaz declined to take sobriety tests and was acquitted in 2016.

Running against him are Rafael Pineyro, a former chief of staff to Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez who had resigned his post to run for the Doral City Council; and Patricio Moreno, who took 48 percent of the vote as the Democratic nominee against Rep. Carlos Trujillo in the 2016 race for District 105 in the Florida House. Trujillo won with 52 percent of the vote.

jose pepe diaz on dais.JPG
Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz ran for his fifth term representing District 12, a region anchored by the city of Doral. He and four other incumbents easily won reelection Tuesday night. Diaz had the narrowest margin of victory, and still doubled his nearest rival’s vote total. MIAMI HERALD FILE PHOTO