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Miami Mayor Francis Suarez Faces 5 Opponents In Election

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is speaking out about his vision for a second term as he faces five opponents in the mayor's race.

Voters in the City of Miami will head to the polls Tuesday.

The 44-year-old Suarez was elected with 86% of the vote in 2017 and experts say he is heavily favored this time. Being mayor has been a family tradition. His 72-year-old father Xavier Suarez served four terms from 1985 to 1993.

From speaking to sanitation workers in his neighborhood to overseeing campaign spending that even funded a billboard by I-95, Suarez said he is not taking this election for granted.

In an interview with CBS4's Peter D'Oench, Suarez said, "I am running for re-election because I get up every morning with energy to make this the best city on the planet. I get up early every morning and I have a vision for the future and moving Miami to a more diverse economy where everyone can be successful and get ready for the modern-day economy and protecting our environment."

Suarez has helped attract a series of high-tech and investment firms to the Magic City during his tenure.

"I am trying to change Miami to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed in the future in a modern-day economy. It is a changing world and can be disruptive and technology is at the forefront of the change," he said.

"If re-elected," he said, "I will make sure that Miami is one of the safest cities in America."

"I want to focus on eliminating homelessness. I want to maintain taxes as low as possible. This is a matter of quality of life. What's important too is the reduction of homicides this year. For three of the past 4 years, there has been a reduction in homicides."

"Two years ago we had the lowest homicide rate since the 1950s. This is not about personalities or people. This is about the future of the City of Miami."

Suarez also spoke about his initial support for controversial Police Chief Art Acevedo, who was later fired.

Suarez said, "We brought in the chief with high expectations. We wanted him to succeed like we want everyone to succeed but unfortunately, that did not work out."

Suarez has been pro-business and pro-police and was one of the first city leaders in Florida to pass restrictions during the Pandemic.

One of his opponents is University of Miami student Marie Exantus McKee who said, "Wages for workers is one of the top reasons I am running and trying to improve them. Wages have been stagnant for the past 10 years as we have seen corporate profits skyrocket in the last few years especially during the pandemic."

"If elected, first things first, I would enable small businesses to get some sort of tax break and access to grants faster. I would also focus on rectifying relations with law enforcement and the community. There is a distrust that needs to be addressed. I have also seen how people are affected by problems in all walks of life. I also support term limits and do not expect to be re-elected if I do not do my job."

Digital Sports show and podcast producer Max Martinez is also running for mayor.

He said, "The City of Miami needs leadership that is different and it is a matter of who is going to be productive in solving people's issues. I have heard those top issues are affordable housing, transportation and traffic, and overall the environmental crisis. Without climate justice, there is no racial justice. And when you are worried about problems with the climate, residents are going to get priced out."

Martinez said, "The first thing I would do is build more affordable housing on one of the empty lots in the City of Miami. It baffles me that a city with an affordable housing crisis can own so much land and not be using its money to buy affordable housing for the people of the city. I am a big advocate of rent to own and achieving equity in the community."

Mayra Joli is also speaking out about running for mayor.

Joli is an immigration attorney and while her name is on the ballot, a judge on October 15th ruled that she is not eligible to run for office because she had not lived in the city for a year prior to qualifying.

Joli said, "The people of Miami need me. I am the last line of defense. I am an immigration attorney so there are things that I can resolve for the people that many others can not do. My practice has to do with humanitarian aspects of knowing where to go to give some people direction. My first order of business is to clean house. I am going to eliminate jobs in the city of Miami to save taxpayers some money."

Francisco "Frank" Pichel and Anthony Dutrow are also on Tuesday's ballot. CBS4 reached out to both men but they declined to comment.

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