MIAMI – A Miami-Dade County judge has dismissed a mayoral candidate's lawsuit seeking to disqualify incumbent Mayor Carlos Gimenez because of a technicality.
Judge Michael Hanzman ruled Thursday to dismiss the complaint filed by Raquel Regalado "with prejudice."
The lawsuit claimed that the Miami-Dade County Elections Department received a qualifying check for $1,800 dated June 10, 2015, that was rejected by the bank. The lawsuit claimed that, under Florida statute, any candidate whose check is invalidated has until the end of the qualifying period to pay with a cashier's check, and failure to pay the fee by that time should result in disqualification.
But Hanzman ruled that Regalado's belief was incorrect because, as confirmed by the deputy supervisor of the Miami-Dade County Elections Department, it was never sent to the bank for deposit.
"Recognizing this obvious scrivener's error, the department notified Gimenez and allowed him an opportunity to replace the check," Hanzman wrote. "As one might expect, Gimenez accepted that 'opportunity.'"
Hanzman said the citizens of Miami-Dade County should be allowed to decide who becomes their next mayor.
"He or she will not be anointed by judicial fiat," the judge wrote. "So it is time for (Regalado) to make her 'argument' to those who have the power to place her in office -- the voters."
Regalado said the court's ruling reaffirms her "unwavering commitment to ensure a truly independent and professional" elections office. She noted that Miami-Dade County is the only Florida county that does not elect its elections supervisor.
"I maintain that the residents of Miami-Dade County deserve to know about the influence that the mayor has over the Elections Department," Regalado said in a statement. "Nevertheless, we remain focused on defending our residents and winning this election so that we can elevate the quality of life, wellbeing and personal safety of all Miami-Dade county residents."
Regalado is the daughter of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado. She resigned her seat on the Miami-Dade County school board to run against Gimenez, who was first elected mayor in 2011.
"While we certainly welcome the dismissal, it is unfortunate that Ms. Regalado was trying to use the court system, instead of the ballot box, to become Miami-Dade County mayor," Gimenez said in a statement. "Through this desperate lawsuit, Ms. Regalado was hoping to suppress the votes and disenfranchise half-a-million county residents who cast their votes by sending their ballots via mail and participating in early voting. That is not only undemocratic, it is also unbecoming of someone aspiring to become Miami-Dade's highest-ranking elected official."