MIAMI – Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez received a standing ovation Tuesday from the audience of a who’s who of county government past and present.
In outlining the county’s achievements, Gimenez was also outlining his own, one day before an expected announcement he will run for U.S. Congress.
The three-term, now term-limited Gimenez telegraphed his intention to run for Congressional District 26, making the annual presentation about the state of the county a de facto pre-launch campaign speech. He has told supporters he will announce Wednesday his intention to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who represents southwest Miami-Dade County and Monroe County. He would first run in the Republican primary, where two candidates have already filed.
Switching between English and Spanish, Gimenez outlined the county’s gains since he took office in a special election in 2011, a few years into the national recession, facing depressed property values, unemployment at almost 12% and the county’s public hospital, Jackson Health System, in the red.
He shared credit with Miami-Dade County commissioners and labor unions for the “shared sacrifices” that allowed Gimenez to condense departments and bureaucracy and turn a “financial titanic.” Currently, Miami-Dade County’s unemployment rate is below 3% and median housing prices are up.
“Together, we worked out way out of the mess,” he said.
The annual speech is always the mayor’s opportunity to focus on county progress and successes; Gimenez called the state of the county stable and strong, and aired video presentations about the progress of the county’s economic engines, Miami International Airport and PortMiami.
He talked about $3.2 billion dedicated to resiliency and planning for the geographic and economic challenges of sea-level rise.
Gimenez also acknowledged the county’s biggest challenges underway, planning for affordable housing and chronic traffic gridlock.
“There is only one thing worse than traffic,” he said. “That’s no traffic. That will be a sign of bad times.”