A Miami-Dade civil court judge has determined that Sweetwater Mayor José M. Díaz may not run as a candidate in the May 12 election, citing a law known as "resign to run."
At issue is the fact that Díaz was appointed — not elected — to the mayoral seat after the arrest of former Mayor Manuel Maroño. Before that, he was a commissioner and he never officially resigned from that post.
Judge Barbara Areces ruled on Monday that state and municipal law requires that Díaz resign from his last elected post by March 6 in order to run for the mayoral seat.
Díaz 's attorney, Juan Carlos Planas, said he will appeal the decision, arguing that Díaz did not have to resign because the commission seat he left vacant when appointed mayor was already filled.
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“The Mayor had no reason to resign because he wasn’t occupying two seats at the same time,” said Planas.
As a result of the ruling, absentee ballots that were scheduled for distribution on Tuesday are now expected to be distributed on Thursday, which will include a document explaining that votes cast for Díaz will be disqualified.
"It has to be done that way because the [absentee] ballots were already printed and it would cost a lot of money to reprint them," explained attorney Jose "Pepe" Herrera, who filed the petition against Díaz on behalf of Commissioner Orlando Lopez, Díaz 's opponent in the mayoral race.
Follow Brenda Medina on Twitter: @BrendaMedinar