Mayor Facing Recall Responds To Critics

Early Voting In Special Recall Election Ends

By Terrell Forney - Reporter

MIAMI, Fla. - Early voting came to an end Sunday for a special election that could end the political careers of Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez and District 13 commissioner Natacha Seijas.

The polls closed at 5 p.m., ending 14 continuous days of a process that allows voters to cast their ballot early. The Miami-Dade Elections Department is now preparing for Tuesday's Special Election set for March 15.

Mayor Alvarez could be the first mayor ever in the county to be recalled if he's pushed out by voters. Alvarez told Local 10's Michael Putney Sunday that he's concerned about a recent poll that shows two out of three county residents don't believe he should complete his second term.

"Obviously that's a concern, but I've never governed or paid close attention to the polls," said Alvarez.

The mayor also candidly admitted that he believes the recall effort is a personal attack against him by Miami businessman Norman Braman -- the man who is funding the campaign to remove him from office.

"It's OK with me", said Mayor Alvarez. "You don't have to have a reason to recall anybody here, but at least I would hope that he would have the courage to say, you know what? He got the stadium, he got the tunnel, he got the museum park -- I sued, I lost and now I'm gonna get even."

Braman on the other hand -- appeared on "This Week In South Florida" with Michael Putney one week earlier, but fell short of saying his motives are personal.

"What's your beef with Mayor Alvarez?," Local 10's Michael Putney asked. "We've had a government that hasn't been responsive to the people in the community," said Braman.

The fate of District 13 Commissioner Natacha Seijas also hangs in the balance.

Seijas and Alvarez are being recalled over an unpopular county budget that raised property taxes for some Miami-Dade homeowners.

Alvarez said the tax hike was necessary to fill an $80 million budget shortfall. Hundreds of police officers and firefighters would have otherwise been laid off. "I don't think the people really wanted that," replied Alvarez of the prospect of layoffs.

County records show more than 100,000 people have cast their votes early in the recall election, either by absentee ballots or by showing up at the polls.

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