Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade judge retains seat in sole race

Veteran Miami-Dade County Judge Jacqueline “Jackie” Schwartz won re-election Tuesday over challenger Frank Bocanegra, while voters also retained three appeals judges.

The race between Schwartz and Bocanegra was the only Miami-Dade judicial contest on Tuesday’s ballots.

Voters were also asked whether to retain Third District Court of Appeals judges Barbara Lagoa, Thomas Logue and Vance E. Salter.

Seven other contested Miami-Dade judicial races were decided in the August primary election.

Schwartz nearly won her seat then. In the three-way race in August, Schwartz earned 49.4 percent of the vote, just a shade under what she needed to win the outright majority. Bocanegra got 31 percent of the ballots, placing second in front of defense lawyer Rachel Glorioso Dooley.

Her win was more than comfortable – late Tuesday, she was winning by double digits. The victory was resounding in a heavily Hispanic county where Spanish surnames often carry the day, particularly in judicial races.

“I think my re-election is a very significant victory for the people of Miami Dade County,” Schwartz said Tuesday night in a statement. “We have gone past the days when any nondescript Hispanic name could go on the ballot and defeat any Anglo sitting judge.”

She added: “I am proud of the voters of Miami Dade who have shown that they can cut through all of the subterfuge and actually recognize the qualification of a sitting good judge.”

The incumbent judge had been on the bench for 12 years, serving at branches across the county. Schwartz had also taught at Miami-Dade College.

Schwartz’s campaign received negative publicity after a Coconut Grove store clerk complained that the judge cursed her out in complaining about a campaign opponent’s sign at the business. The judge called Miami code enforcement officers, who ordered the sign taken down because it was too big.

But her campaign coffers dwarfed Bocanegra’s – she raised over $405,000 to Bocanegra’s $94,037.

Bocanegra is a former Miami-Dade police major who also served as the town manager of Miami Lakes. He became a lawyer in 2008.