Retired firefighter leads effort to recall Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez

Jack Garcia expected to file official paperwork in October

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor , Roger Lohse

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - A news conference is scheduled for Monday afternoon to discuss the timeline and plan of action of the South Florida group attempting to recall Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

The grassroots campaign to recall Gimenez was launched by retired Miami-Dade firefighter Jack Garcia. Garcia is basing his campaign on the mayor's refusal to raise taxes, and instead defund services and salaries to cover a lean county budget.

One of the defunded services involves the county's fire boats, which were dry-docked the night Garcia's son, Andrew Garcia, and three others died in a Fourth of July boat crash off Biscayne Bay.

Garcia's committee also accuses the mayor of throwing tax money at luxury items, like renovating the Miami Beach Convention Center, and providing financial incentives to Miami Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross for putting a roof over Sun Life Stadium.

"You don't reduce the basics," said Garcia. "If you have a certain amount to deal with, you take care of the basics first, and not fund convention centers, art things, and other things that are expensive. You don't do that at the cost of public safety."

Auto magnate Norman Braman successfully led and funded the recall effort against Gimenez's predecessor, Carlos Alvarez, in 2011. That time, Braman tapped into the county-wide anger over Alvarez orchestrating a tax hike during the recession at the same time he gave salary increases to county employees and supported the Marlins Stadium debacle.

"The previous mayor was recalled in part because he raised taxes in order to fund salary and benefit increases for union workers," said Michael Hernandez, spokesman for Gimenez. "Mayor Gimenez has not increased tax rates and has held the line on employee salaries and benefits."  

If Garcia's recall effort is successful, the special election to replace Gimenez could cost taxpayers around $4-$5 million.

So far, Garcia has created a committee called "A Better Dade," complete with a Facebook page and website, recallgimenez.com.

According to the Miami Herald, Garcia plans to file the official paperwork launching the recall drive in October. Garcia's committee would then have 120 days to collect more than 50,000 signatures.

Gimenez is up for re-election in two years.

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