MIAMI - Luis Garcia is challenging incumbent Bruno Barreiro for his commission seat in District 5 in Miami-Dade County.
Although county commission races are nonpartisan, most voters in the district know Garcia is a Democrat and Barreiro is a Republican.
For Barreiro, older Cuban-Americans are his bred and butter.
"For years, I've worked closely with senior community in my district. It's one of the districts that has a predominantly large population of elderly people, and I work closely with them year round," said Barreiro.
Barreiro has counted on voting seniors to send him to Tallahassee and Miami-Dade County Hall. Although he is just 46 years old, Barreiro has been a commissioner for 14 years, including two terms as commission chairman, and served in Tallahassee for six years as a state representative.
Barreiro cited expanding public transportation as something he as accomplished as a commissioner.
"Transportation has been a key area where I've really focused in on," said Barreiro. "Expanding our public transportation system and also with providing with innovative program, like, especially the seniors, the Golden Passport."
Seniors get a free ride on county transit as part of Barreiro's Golden Passport.
But Garcia believes Barreiro's ride should come to an end.
"We need to have new blood on that commission. You know, when you serve, 14, 16, 18, up to 20 years, you lose your edge. You become complacent," said Garcia.
Garcia, 66, is just finishing up his third term as a state representative. He started as a firefighter and paramedic on Miami Beach, eventually rose to Miami Beach Fire Chief, and then became a Miami Beach City Commissioner.
"I intend to be there for eight years tops," said Garcia.
Both Barreiro and Garcia said they support the expansion and renovation of the Miami Beach Convention Center. But Garcia said Marlins Park, which Barreiro supported, is taking too much tourist tax money and was a bad deal.
"How can you go into a partnership when your partner won't open up the books?" said Garcia.
Barreiro said the community need the stadium to keep the Marlins and that he was glad it was built.
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