Strong mayor appears headed to public vote
signing frenzy in the final days of the campaign may increase names on a petition
drive supporting a strong-mayor government for Miami-Dade County.
the past two to three weeks, it's gone ballistic," said campaign chairman
Jose "Pepe" Riesco, who said this week that more than 100,000 voters
had offered their signatures and the strong-mayor initiative was close to being
approved for an upcoming vote. The petition drive will end Saturday.
clear that there is a huge level of dissatisfaction with how tax dollars are
being spent. Voters want to see the balance," he said. "Of the top
25 municipalities in the country, 22 subscribe to the form of government we're
second issue in the petition drive, one that would change authority for the
awarding of county contracts, is lagging.
doing well on the executive-mayor front," said Mr. Riesco, "not so
well with the question of procurement."
he said, comes from difficulties petitioners have explaining to voters how the
transition from county commission consideration of lucrative contracts would
work in practice.
campaigners are confident that everything is on track to acquire the required
144,000 signatures from registered voters to put the reorganization measures
on an upcoming ballot. County Mayor Carlos Alvarez, elected last fall, launched
the government-reform initiative and has said he hopes to get the issue on November's
has exceeded targets," said Norma Dominguez, a volunteer for Citizens for
Reform, "and a lot of interest has been drummed up in Miami and Miami Beach."
Riesco was treasurer for the mayor's 18-month campaign for election before becoming
chairman of Citizens for Reform when it was founded in December.
officials filed a statement of organization Dec. 27 that outlined 13 items such
as the names of the committee's officers and bank accounts, as required by the
civic leaders and commissioners have been particularly sensitive to the campaign
for reform, Mr. Riesco said.
is not a personal attack on any particular commissioner," he said, "but
the commissioners have taken it personally ever since I went before them on
April 5. They behaved like rabid dogs. They were afraid of losing something."
County offices will be open Saturday to accept the petitions, in the works for
60th day falls on a Saturday," said Clerk of the Board Kay Sullivan, "and
the elections department will be here until noon for verification purposes."
staff has up to 30 days to certify the signatures. The commission then has 60
to 120 days to set a referendum.
Riesco said the 144,000-signature figure is based on 10% of the county's more
than 1 million eligible voters, about 107,000, and a 30,000-name leeway to accommodate
could be some dishonest people attempting to invalidate the petition,"
he said. "This takes care of that."