Miami-Dade County

The demise of the “West End” inches closer to reality in West Kendall

Joe Martinez, in a 2012 file photo, is back in his old Miami-Dade commission seat and undoing the signature legislation of his predecessor, Juan Zapata.
Joe Martinez, in a 2012 file photo, is back in his old Miami-Dade commission seat and undoing the signature legislation of his predecessor, Juan Zapata. El Nuevo Herald

The West End’s demise advanced without fanfare on Tuesday, as Miami-Dade’s newest county commissioner won unanimous support to undo a signature achievement of his predecessor.

Joe Martinez, District 11’s commissioner since last month, secured preliminary approval to erase the “West End” name from a county library and park and return them to their original locales of “West Kendall.” Martinez’s predecessor, Juan C. Zapata, promoted the “West End” name as a branding upgrade for the suburban area.

Martinez also scored a unanimous first-reading vote for legislation that would scrap an ongoing process to consider incorporating cities within the district. The legislation would disband two “West End” incorporation panels, which have been studying how to create new municipalities out of land that currently relies on the county for garbage, police and other services typically provided by cities.

“That is what I ran on. It was about stopping the incorporation movement,” Martinez said. “People don’t want it. They don’t want another layer of government.”

Residents in any proposed municipality would ultimately vote on whether to leave the county’s “unincorporated” area and become a city, and Zapata touted the incorporation process as a way to let voters resolve the issue. “If he’s so convinced people are against it, let it come to a vote,” Zapata said in an interview. Zapata dropped out of his reelection bid last summer, clearing the way for Martinez to easily win back his old commission seat. (Martinez gave up the seat in 2012 after 12 years on the board to run for county mayor but lost to incumbent Carlos Gimenez.)

On Tuesday, Zapata, a former state lawmaker, posted a statement on Twitter that seemed aimed at the commission’s incoming chairman, Esteban “Steve” Bovo. A Zapata ally on the commission, Bovo is widely thought to be preparing a 2020 county mayoral run.

Zapata wrote: “Any Commish who doesn’t support my community in having a discussion about its future will def. not have my support for MD Mayor.” Bovo was a yes vote for all of Martinez’s proposals.

Zapata said his tweet was aimed at any commissioner planning to run for mayor in 2020. “There are a bunch of them,” he said.

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