Former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina and former County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez will compete in a June runoff to be Miami-Dade's next mayor after neither emerged as the majority winner in Tuesday's special election.
"We are extremely privileged to be able to go to the next round and to be in first place and to have the advantage we have with the votes," Robaina said. "That is a demonstration that our message, our campaign and our hard work ... paid off this night."
Gimenez, his opponent on June 28, saw the results as a win for voters.
"We are going to have true reform. We're going to have lower taxes. We are going to establish honesty, integrity, and transparency confidently," Gimenez said. "We're going to restore the trust of Miami-Dade County citizens in their government. We're going to lead this county in a completely different direction."
Robaina grabbed 33.6 percent of the vote Tuesday, while Gimenez pulled in 28.8 percent.
Former state representative Marcelo Llorente finished with 14.8 percent and more than 20,000 Miamians thought former 2 Live Crew frontman Luther Campbell would make a fine mayor.
While Uncle Luke was the surprise of the night taking 11 percent of the vote since this was his first foray into politics.
But election officials said about 3,200 absentee ballots had yet to be counted and those results will be added into the total.
In all, 11 candidates were trying to replace Carlos Alvarez, who was ousted in the county's first successful recall election in March. With more than 2.5 million people, Miami-Dade is the most populous area ever to recall a local official.
Alvarez drew the anger of taxpayers after he approved pay raises for the county's union employees that some critics claimed was the reason for a tax hike.
Billionaire Norman Braman spearheaded the taxpayer revolt, which ultimately ended with Alvarez getting the boot from office.
For as much as taxpayers seemed to want to usher in change by ousting Alvarez, voters rejected most of the charter amendments offered on the ballot.
Early results show the only amendment that voters didn’t seem to reject was the item prohibiting commissioners from lobbying the county for two years after leaving office.
In the contest for State House District 110, Jose Oliva will go to the June runoff against a write-in candidate.
Voters rejected raising the salary for commissioners, 12-year term limits, the creation of a charter review task force and an amendment to reduce the power of the mayor by changing from a strong mayor format to the appointed county manager style.
"I basically put no on all of them," Miami Gardens voter Erik Lara said. "One was to increase the salaries of the commissioners from $6,00 to a permanent job for $90-something thousand dollars so that taxpayers have to pay his salary... I don't agree with that.”
Also unseated in March in the recall was Commissioner Natacha Seijas.
Former state lawmaker Esteban Bovo will be the new representative for District 13, voters decided Tuesday.
The results of who will replace Gimenez for commissioner of District 7 are sealed until a judge makes a final decision in a lawsuit over whether a candidate’s documents were filed in a timely manner so he could qualify to run.
The county is set to appeal the judge’s decision Wednesday in the race.