Francis Suarez was walking out the front door of the Duffy’s Sports Grill at CocoWalk Wednesday afternoon when an older man stopped him and asked him a pretty standard question.
“He said, ‘Aren’t you the new mayor?’ ” Miami’s mayor-elect recalled. “And I said, ‘yeah,’ ”
“Being called mayor is still very weird.”
Suarez, who took the mayor’s race Tuesday with 85 percent of the vote, grew up around City Hall as the son of a former mayor. The popular, two-term commissioner has had his own office in the building since 2009, and his election was all-but-guaranteed Tuesday after raising more than $3 million for a campaign that drew little opposition.
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His victory was such a lock that people have been calling him the next mayor for months without risk of jinxing him.
But he’ll have to get used to being the guy.
“It’s definitely an out of body experience,” he said in an interview.
Suarez, 40, won’t officially become mayor until Nov. 15, when he’s sworn in. Until then, he’s breaking in the role and slowly getting used to the idea of being the top dog of the political circus. He spent Wednesday trying to adjust.
Suarez says he didn’t sleep much Tuesday night in his hotel room at the Hilton Miami Downtown. He woke up in the morning and was greeted by congratulations and media obligations that chased him all day. He quickly began giving interviews and after about two hours had breakfast with his wife, Gloria.
“We just sort of reflected, her and I, on yesterday and how smoothly things went. How great it was,” he said.
The rest of the day was a whirl.
Being called mayor is still very weird
Head shots at City Hall for new mayor’s photos, replacing the picture Commissioner Suarez took back when he was only 32. Showing new city commissioner Manolo Reyes around his old District 4 office. Attending a meeting at Carlton Fields’ law office with Miami budget director Chris Rose to discuss the mayor’s office budget. Holding another meeting at Carlton Fields that he declined to discuss. Answering hundreds of text messages (he still had 550 unread around 7 p.m.). Doing more interviews. Sushi at his Coral Gate home for dinner.
He was too busy to talk to his father, County Commissioner Xavier Suarez, before Wednesday evening. And he’d yet to talk to outgoing Mayor Tomás Regalado following his election.
On Thursday, it’s up to Broward County to talk transit, which has been a big focus of his time as an elected official, along with an interview with Miami Today, some work at Carlton Fields and final engagements with NBC Miami’s Jackie Nespral and Channel 51.
During his stop at City Hall, he looked around the mayor’s office. He knows the place well. His father served most recently in 1998, when the mayor-elect wasn’t quite old enough to buy a drink. Back then, the mayor’s conference room was his office, the mayor’s office was lined with a sheet of glass framing the chief-of-staff’s office, and a massive conference table sat where the mayor’s desk now sits.
“The mayor’s office is almost identical to the way it looked in 1985, with some superficial changes,” he said, mentioning the year that his father first was elected mayor.
Next week, though, there will be a fairly substantial change. The man who occupies it will be him.