Court battle could overturn result of Miami commissioner race

Opponent claims Joe Carollo didn't actually live in district

MIAMI – Joe Carollo narrowly won a heated campaign for the District 3 City of Miami Commission seat in November. But almost two months after the election, his former opponent, Alfie Leon, is contesting the result in court.

Along with their legal teams, Leon and Carollo faced off again inside a Miami-Dade County civil courtroom Monday. Leon says Carollo wasn't living in the district for a year before the deadline to qualify for the ballot, and he says he has the records to prove it.

Leon had filed the lawsuit the day before Election Day.

Carollo, who served as the mayor of Miami in the 1990s, had lived in Coconut Grove for years before he ran for the seat to replace his younger brother, Frank. Carollo signed a lease for an apartment in the district just before the deadline, but Leon maintains he didn't actually live there.

Leon’s lawyer, Juan Carlos Planas, said that phone records and Florida Power & Light Co. usage show Carollo wasn't living in his West Brickell apartment until well after the September 2016 deadline.

“He claims to have lived at Brickell Station Lofts by September of 2016, where the energy usage doesn't reflect real residency probably until February or March,” Planas said

But Carollo and his team brought in their own experts claiming just the opposite, hoping to prove that he was in fact living there.

Carollo said the lawsuit is a ridiculous effort by his political opponents to prevent him from taking office.

“He was being maintained by the same people that are paying for all of this coming at me and trying to do every low, dirty trick they can to go against the will of the people,” Joe Carollo said.

Judge Thomas Rebull said he would issue a ruling sometime after Jan. 16.

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