Suarez, Moss and Lorenzo for Miami-Dade County Commission

Miami Herald Editorial Board


District 7

Veteran commissioner Xavier Suarez, 67, is running for reelection — and being challenged by political newcomer Michael Castro, 34, a word processor at a law firm.

Mr. Castro, in his appearance before the Editorial Board, seemed vague on issues and policy. He said, for example, that it was the county’s responsibility (rather than the School Board’s) to ensure that children get a good education. He also seemed overly focused on the cost and proliferation of traffic circles in the district.

Mr. Suarez, a former mayor of Miami, is a fixture in local politics. And we mean that in a good way. His long experience serves him well. He is well-versed on the issues in his district and the county. He has ideas worth considering on avoiding traffic gridlock and economic development for the West End. As for moving the Urban Development Boundary, he says: “Ain’t no way.” For County Commission, District 7, the Miami Herald recommends XAVIER SUAREZ.

District 9

Dennis Moss’ know-how, developed as a commissioner since he was elected in 1993, continues to benefit district residents.

Mr. Moss, 64, has done a solid job of getting other leaders to focus on transportation countywide, economic development in his South Dade district — including getting businesses to train and hire residents from challenged neighborhoods — and working with police to rid those areas of crime and drugs. He wisely is working to bring tourism to the district’s agricultural areas as an alternative to owners selling their land for more houses.

Earl Beaver, 44, the food-services director of a Homestead nursing-home facility is challenging Mr. Moss. Though he did not meet with the Editorial Board, Mr. Beaver wrote that he, too, is concerned with creating jobs and business opportunities. But he has no real track record to speak of. The incumbent continues to serve this district, and the county, well. For County Commission, District 9, the Herald recommends DENNIS MOSS.

District 11

The race for the Board of Commissioner in District 11, which encompasses much of West Kendall, took a sharp, unexpected turn last month. Incumbent Commissioner Juan C. Zapata dropped out the race to hold on to his seat.

Mr. Zapata was seen as vulnerable, especially because he had been dinged over his brief effort last year to use county funds to pay $30,961 in tuition as he pursued a master’s degree at Harvard. Mr. Zapata returned the money, but the damage had been done. He has left the race, but his name still will appear on the ballot.

Joe Martinez, 58, who held the same commission seat for 12 years before losing it to Mr. Zapata, wants a second chance. And Felix Lorenzo, 75, a retired businessman and pharmaceutical salesman, who has become a fervent community activist, is also running.

Traffic, lack of jobs in the area and incorporation efforts are the pressing issues in the district.

Mr. Martinez, the frontrunner, is a former Miami-Dade police officer. He did not meet with the Editorial Board or submit the questionnaire used to get clarity on where candidates stand on specific issues. He did the same in 2012 when he unsuccessfully ran for county mayor.

While on the commission, he favored expanding the Urban Development Boundary further into the Everglades and had an ethical skirmish over the construction of his home by a friend who was on the board of the Latin Builders Association.

Both candidates are critics of Mr. Zapata’s push to incorporate West Kendall. “Every time a new city is created, a new layer of bureaucracy is created for taxpayers,” Mr. Lorenzo said.

Though he has no political experience, we think Mr. Lorenzo truly cares about his district and has his legislative priorities straight. For County Commission, District 11, the Miami Herald recommends FELIX LORENZO.