Miami-Dade County

Where Miami-Dade mayoral candidates Gimenez and Regalado stand on key issues

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and challenger Raquel Regalado.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and challenger Raquel Regalado.

Raquel Regalado has been running against Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez for 18 months, and the two have clashed on a number of issues. Here’s a look at some of the biggest flashpoints:


Gimenez: He negotiated much of the deal that brought the owner of Minnesota’s Mall of America to Northwest Miami-Dade with plans for an even larger retail theme park in South Florida. In early 2015, Gimenez announced the 200-acre project, which promises to be Miami-Dade’s largest employer with about 25,000 permanent jobs.

Regalado: She criticized the project as mostly offering low-paying retail and hospitality positions while worsening traffic.


Regalado: She said she wants to “turn the lights out” on the economic-development arm of Miami-Dade, which relies on tax funds for the bulk of its budget but is governed by a private-sector board recruited from dues-paying businesses. She said the group has failed in its mission of growing well-paying jobs and recruiting new industries to the county.

Gimenez: He supports the group, and served as co-chair of its One Community One Goal committee, which produced a blueprint for expanding employment in the county. He’s pointed to the Beacon Council and other initiatives, including the Emerge Americas tech conference and his Employ Miami-Dade training program for construction workers in poor neighborhoods, as contributing to Miami-Dade’s unemployment rate dropping from 9 percent in 2011 to about 5 percent this summer amid a broader national recovery.


Gimenez: He backed $9 million in county funds for SkyRise Miami, a 1,000-foot observation tower planned as a major tourist attraction in downtown Miami. Gimenez noted developer Jeff Berkowitz would only get the money as reimbursement for public infrastructure, like parking and utility hook-ups, if he built the project and delivered hundreds of jobs.

Regalado: She sued to block spending the $9 million. Berkowitz withdrew his grant request earlier this year amid a legal settlement that had the project’s landlord, Bayside Marketplace, paying Regalado’s legal fees.


Gimenez: He led the way in resetting Miami-Dade’s transit planning this year with a commitment to launch new studies of six major commuting corridors throughout the county. They’re roughly the same corridors that were promised transit improvements during a successful 2002 campaign for a new half-percent sales tax for transportation. Gimenez and other county leaders hailed the SMART plan as the best way to break through squabbling over which route should get help first and begin the process of pursuing federal funds for long-awaited improvements.

Regalado: She dismissed the effort as a retread.


Gimenez: In 2015, he backed a $14 million county grant to Tri-Rail, the regional commuter rail that wanted to extend a route to downtown Miami. Miami-Dade’s Metrorail already offers service between the two points, but Gimenez and others touted the possibility as an inexpensive way to make north-south commuting easier and give Tri-Rail the possibility of servicing coastal communities, too.

Regalado: She opposed the idea, saying areas without rail should get first dibs on the money.


Gimenez: He inserted $1 million for police body cameras into his 2015 budget proposal, weeks before the devices became a national cause in the wake of racial unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. He faced opposition from the county’s police union, which has endorsed Regalado. His reelection effort distributed a flier quoting Regalado calling the cameras “an example of poor spending.”

Regalado: In interviews, she said she does not oppose use of the cameras, which were issued to officers earlier this year, but said Gimenez rushed to deploy them before implementing proper procedures.


Regalado: She wants the county police department to bring back its special investigative unit dedicated to gang violence, which was rolled into the homicide bureau during a streamlining effort launched during Gimenez’s administration. She sees the specialized squad as helpful in reducing youth violence.

Gimenez: He said he left reorganization decisions to police brass, but that gang violence continues to be an investigative priority in the department.