As Tomas Regalado watched his replacement take the oath of office as the next mayor of Miami, the man who guided the city through tough financial times called his time in politics an extraordinary ride.
“I like what I have done,” said Regalado. “I don’t complain, you know all politicians complain about the hardship and how you get gray hair, I have gray hair because I am old.”
Wednesday was Regalado's last day as Miami‘s mayor. He wraps up a 22 year stint in Miami politics, first elected as a commissioner in 1996 and then winning the mayor’s post in 2009.
It was the height of the financial crisis, with Regalado pointing to that challenge as the highlight of his time as mayor. “We saved the city from bankruptcy, the bubble burst when I was elected in 2009, the city had a $100 million deficit,” he said.
Regalado says he’s also proud of upping the numbers on the police force, preserving neighborhoods, and continued smart growth. His regret is the perception that Miami has a crime problem.
“People still think or believe that if you go to this neighborhood or that neighborhood you can get hurt or somebody can do something to you. Miami is safe,” said Regalado.
Two term city commissioner Francis Suarez is taking over as mayor, easily winning the seat in a landslide victory on election night.
Regalado’s advice for Miami’s new top politician: “Be prudent with the unions, because this is the taxpayer’s money, and I know that he will.”