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Gimenez Commission Seat Now On May 24th Ballot

MIAMI (CBS4) -- Miami-Dade County Commissioners met Wednesday morning and added Carlos Gimenez's newly vacant commission seat to the May 24th election ballot that will have Miami-Dade voters electing a new mayor and now two new commissioners.

Gimenez, whose District 7 County seat includes Coral Gables, had to resign Tuesday in order to run for County Mayor. Florida's resign-to-run law precludes a politician from holding two offices at once.

Candidates for the District 7 County seat have until 5:00 p.m. Thursday to file. Already, former state Rep. Julio Robaina and former Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez have opened campaign accounts to raise funds for the seat.

Voters will also vote to fill the District 13 County Commission seat, formerly held by recalled commissioner Natacha Seijas. In the race to succeed Seijas, four candidates have filed paperwork to run; former state Rep. Esteban Bovo, former teacher and frequent government critic Alan Rigerman, Tania Castellanos and Carlos Amaro.

The special election was prompted by the dramatic March 15 recall of Carlos Alvarez as County Mayor and Natacha Seijas as District 13 commissioner. Alvarez and Seijas were removed from office by a decisive 88 percent of those who voted.

Eleven candidates met Tuesday's 5:00 p.m. qualifying deadline for the mayoral race.

In addition to Carlos Gimenez, qualifying candidates are Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina, former state Rep. Marcelo Llorrente, former Miami-Dade Transit director Roosevelt Bradley, business executive and former county commissioner Jose "Pepe" Cancio, former rapper Luther "Luke" Campbell, transit activist Gabrielle Redfern, former Redland Community Council member Wilbur Bell, and Farid A. Khavari, an entrepreneur and economist who unsuccessfully ran for Florida governor last year. Others include Eddie Lewis and Jeffrey Lampert.

Early voting will begin May 9, two weeks before Election Day.

If no candidate wins a majority, a runoff for the top two finishers is set for June 28. The new mayor will serve until November 2012.

Meanwhile, when voters go to the polls next month, they will also consider six proposed changes to the county's charter, the county's constitution.

They include a 12-year term limit that would allow incumbent commissioners to stay on until 2024, while receiving a pay raise to $92,097 a year from $6,000 a year in exchange for giving up outside work.

Commissioners are also asking voters to consider doing away with the strong-mayor form of government — which gives the mayor direct oversight of the bureaucracy — and returning more control to the commission.

Under another proposal, recommendations by a super-majority of the Charter Review Task Force, which would review the charter every four years, would go directly on the ballot rather than require commission approval.

Other proposed changes: removing the notary requirement for signatures in ballot initiatives, enshrining the inspector general's office in the charter, and banning former county elected officials from lobbying county government for pay for two years after leaving office.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)

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