In Miami’s District 3 commission runoff, Alfonso “Alfie” Leon is still our pick

Miami Herald Editorial Board

Tuesday’s runoff for Miami’s District 3 commission seat — a race between Joe Carollo and Alfonso “Alfie” Leon — is looking like a Greek drama.

Here’s the set up: This week, Miami’s recently elected mayor, Francis X. Suarez, was sworn into office. He’s the son of Xavier Suarez, a Miami-Dade commissioner who once held the same position.

Hopes are high that Suarez, brimming with fresh ideas and vigor as one of the youngest mayors the city has elected, will lead Miami into a brighter future. But there’s a wrinkle, of course. He’ll need the City Commission’s help.

So here’s how the race for District 3 commission seat becomes of high importance for Francis Suarez’s mayoral influence.

For the primary, the commission race was crowded with relatives of current elected officials. The race pitted the son of former mayor Tomás Regalado; Joe Carollo, the brother of now-former Commissioner Frank Carollo, and Zoraida Barreiro, the wife of current Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro — and four other “unrelated” candidates. Confused yet?

When the dust settled, Joe Carollo, who is viewed as a dais disruptor, and political newcomer Alfonso “Alfie” Leon were in next week’s runoff.

Since then, the battle between the two has been heated as scathing charges have been flying on political fliers — and even the newly elected mayor’s father, the elder Suarez, has been getting into it. He and Carollo, also a former Miami mayor, are old bitter political enemies. But no one should be confused about this: Leon is the best candidate in this race for the future of the city of Miami.

Here’s what the Editorial Board wrote when it initially recommended Leon in the crowded Nov. 7 race to represent the mostly Hispanic district, which includes Little Havana, The Roads, and a section of Coral Way:

“The most impressive District 3 candidate is Leon, 32, and an attorney who has proven to be a hard-working campaigner in the district. He worked for departing Commissioner Frank Carollo as a legislative aide and chief policy adviser. But for a few blips, his boss indeed was concerned with constituent service and, more impressive, took on the issue of youth crime. So Leon clearly knows the issues and what the job entails.

“Leon’s earnest, people-centric views are refreshing: ‘I decided to run because we need public servants and not politicians. We need people who are beholden only to their neighbors and will act towards bettering these neighborhoods,’ ” Leon told the Board.

“Leon pointed to a unique problem in the district: unfettered dumping on the streets, which give the district an unkempt and uninviting look. Residents deserve better.

“Leon also considers such issues — trash, traffic, the cost of living, crime — to be the district’s main issues. We think he can do something about cleaning up the district — literally.”

Carollo, 62, is a veteran politician, with old Miami political ways that worked once, but shouldn’t now: He still implies his enemies are secret communists or Hugo Chavez supporters.

It would not take him long to throw a wrench into the new Miami mayor’s agenda. That’s just Carollo. He’s done it in Miami and Doral. Voters should move on. More important, they should move this city forward.

In the runoff for the District 3 commission seat, Miami Herald recommends ALFONSO “ALFIE” LEON.