Miami Voters to Decide on Strong Mayor Referendum

A referendum on November’s ballot could change the way the city of Miami operates.

Mayor Francis Suarez is proposing a “strong mayor” form of government, which makes the mayor in charge of day-to-day operations.

“The advantage is … that the people select as mayor, actually has the decision-making authority that people believe that mayor already has,” Suarez said. “Right now the mayor has to choose another person not the mayor to run the day-to-day affairs of government. “

Currently, the Miami commissioners set the policy and the city manager handles the day-to-day operations, such as city services, dealing with the police, and handling residents’ complaints.

Other major cities in Florida, such as Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, and even Miami-Dade County, have a strong mayor form of government.

“Power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely,” said Commissioner Joe Carollo, who is critical of Suarez’s proposal, calling the measure a power grab.

“What’s made America great has been a separation of powers, not even the president of our country has control over the three branches of government,” Carollo said.

“Why are they trying to stop residents from coming into line with cities like Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville?” Suarez said. “Those mayors are not dictators, they are democratically elected, elected officials with a responsibility to get things done for their citizens.”

Under the strong mayor model, Suarez’s annual compensation would jump from $130,000 to $187,000 – but Suarez says he will reject the increase.

A majority of Miami voters are needed to the referendum to pass.

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