News Column

Miami-Dade Swears in Mayor, Commissioners

Nov. 20, 2012

Patricia Mazzei

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez will officially begin his first full term Tuesday morning, when he will be sworn in following his August electoral win.

The mayor has been in office for more than a year -- but that was filling in for the remainder of ousted Mayor Carlos Alvarez's term. Gimenez defeated six candidates, including outgoing Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, and now gets four years of his own to govern. He can seek reelection in 2016.

Seven commissioners will also be sworn in, including Juan C. Zapata, Martinez's successor and the only new member of the board. The Colombian-American Zapata will become the first South American on the commission.

Four incumbents -- Bruno Barreiro, Audrey Edmonson, Barbara Jordan and Dennis Moss -- won reelection, and two more -- Esteban "Steve" Bovo and Xavier Suarez -- were automatically reelected without opposition.

Like Gimenez, Bovo and Suarez were finishing former commissioners' terms and will now begin their first four-year terms.

After the swearing-in, the clock will start ticking for new, eight-year commissioner term limits voters approved earlier this month. The limits do not apply retroactively to time commissioners have already served on the dais.

The swearing-in ceremony will be held at 9:30 a.m. at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, 10950 SW 211th St., Cutler Bay.

A regularly scheduled commission meeting will later be convened at 2 p.m. at the County Hall commission chambers, 111 NW 1st St., Miami. There, the board will elect a new chair and vice-chair to serve a two-year term.

The chairmanship race appears unusually wide open this year, with more than a handful of commissioners interested in the job and no clear frontrunner. The chair presides over meetings, sets the agenda for the board, creates committees and could take over some of the mayor's powers in the event of a mayoral vacancy.

Among the items on Tuesday's meeting agenda is awarding a $25 million contract to Munilla Construction Management to build a Metrorail train test track at the county's Lehman Center rail yard.

The 2,500-foot track raised some controversy earlier this year when the county was awarding a separate, more than $300 million contract to purchase 136 new Metorail trains. The runner-up Spanish firm that did not win that contract complained that the new track would unfairly benefit the Italian firm ultimately chosen to build the trains that did not have a U.S. track of its own.

The county, which currently tests its trains on existing rail tracks overnight, says it has wanted the track for years, and that the bid is unrelated to the new trains purchase.



Distributed by MCT Information Services



Source: (c) 2012 The Miami Herald


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