Nonpartisan? Who are we kidding? County races more partisan by day

Nonpartisan? Who are we kidding? County races more partisan by day
  • Sumo

Voters will get to decide if the newly created elected Miami-Dade sheriff’s seat, tax collector and supervisor of elections will be partisan positions or not after the county commission voted last week to put the referendum on the 2020 ballot.

The sheriff’s position was created last year by voters who also made the elections head and tax collector elected positions rather than appointees of the mayor. The property appraiser’s seat was already a nonpartisan elected office, as are the county mayor and commission seats, as are most municipal offices.

“The positions of Sheriff, Property Appraiser, Tax Collector, and Supervisor of Elections are positions that our residents should have the right to select, endorse, and vote on the basis of merit, regardless of party affiliation,” said Commissioner Esteban Bovo, who sponsored the resolution.

But who is he kidding? Campaigns for these seats have increasingly become partisan, especially as Democrats — who have a majority of the voters in Miami-Dade but have not had a majority of elected representatives — try to seed the bench at the local level to create viable candidates for state office.

Read related: Dems push full court press for Eileen Higgins in special District 5 county race

It really started to be obvious in the 2014 race between Daniella Levine-Cava and former Commissioner Lynda Bell, the incumbent. Democrats poured tons of resources into the Levine-Cava campaign and had impact.

Last year, Democrats helped Commissioner Eileen Higgins win a special election over two Republicans who were better known.

In 2016, local Dems scrambled to find a challenger to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who himself toyed with changing his party in a publicity stunt orchestrated by Hillary Clinton supporters, which included his spokesman and one of his campaign managers.

And Dems are not losing hope: They want a blue mayor in 2020.

Read related: Carlos Gimenez’s party switch talk is consistent, distracting

Kendall Democrats President Bryan Hernandez, who worked on the Donna Shalala for Congress and Heath Rassner for State House campaigns last year — said as much in an op-ed he wrote this week for the Community Newspapers:

“Our county is in desperate need of visionary, smart leadership. The mayor who succeeds Carlos Gimenez must be a Democrat who will tackle the serious issues facing Miami-Dade,” noting there are a number of Democrats running. Those include Levine-Cava and former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas.

“I’m a 23-year-old professional who’s starting off his career in Miami. Affordable housing, public transit, and sea level rise are critical issues to me,” Hernandez said. “If a politician wants my vote in the 2020 mayoral election, they need to propose bold solutions to these problems.

He goes on to write about the issues the next mayor will have to face (because this mayor sure won’t, which includes climate change, traffic, affordable housing and “the growing level of inequality.” But it makes one wonder: Do you have to be a Democrat to care about those things.

Hernandez also talks about the rich getting richer with developers who live off the politicians they buy — but Ladra’s experience is that this practice is also bipartisan.

Read related: Political musical chairs: Recycled electeds vie for 2020 seats

“Miami-Dade County is ground zero for both issues. The next mayor must lead us through these great challenges and secure a good future for me and my generation of Miamians,” Hernandez writes. “I call on local Democratic clubs, progressive groups, and all those tired with this corrupt, abysmal leadership to start planning for the goal of electing a bold Democratic mayor in 2020. That work must begin now.”

On the one hand, these races should be nonpartisan. It’s the right thing to do so that Independent voters aren’t shut out of the process or so that one party doesn’t dominate a race. But, on the other hand, is it really going to matter? Unless there are rules and penalties for bringing up partisanship in non partisan elections, there will always be the campaigns that use the R or the D to their advantage.

Even if the letter is invisible.

5 Responses to "Nonpartisan? Who are we kidding? County races more partisan by day"

  1. Grant Stern   March 13, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    Non-partisan races sound nice in theory, but really all they do is deprive voters of the information they need to evaluate candidates for public office, since the candidates themselves are not required to act in a non-partisan way once in office.

    The City of Miami’s “non-partisan” Mayor spent much of his first year in office meeting with Republican politicians and hiring a Republican partisan as the City’s executive officer. Did his residents have any clue that might happen? Nope. Because he was a non-partisan until he got into office. I’m not condemning Mayor Suarez’s actions, but I think it is revealing of the kind of unexpected behaviors that voters in this city, many of whom are fervent Democrats, must tolerate when they’re not informed of their leaders’ political party affiliations in the most important place these things are noted: on the ballot.

    Would heavily Democratic Miami-Dade have chosen Carlos Gimenez in 2012 if he had to disclose his GOP voter registration? Perhaps not.

    Political parties provide an additional check (or encouragement in the GOP) over politicians bad behavior or ill-advised decisionmaking while in office. If our state attorney was a non-partisan, who would’ve stood up and said that her decisions in the Darren Rainey case were inappropriate? Not her party. But her party did stand up and make an unequivocal statement that she was wrong and they believed that should end her political career.

    Miami’s non-partisan politicians aren’t non-partisan, they never have been, never will be, and it’s long past time that the candidates disclose their party affiliations and let the parties get involved. How else can a candidate get elected without being beholden to big money interests who donate to their campaigns? At least being beholden to a political party gives some level of accountability that anyone in the public can participate in.

    Because the only party that Miami’s non-partisan local officials belong to is the corrupt together friends and family Party and it’s sickening and must stop.

  2. Bryan Hernandez   March 13, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    I completely agree, Grant Stern. It’s about transparency and honesty about our elections.

    Carlos Gimenez is a Republican and governs like one. Carlos Gimenez has demonstrated to be the worst kind of politician – lacks any vision for a better county and has primarily represented Miami’s most influential donors at the expense of county residents.

    We need a mayor who will actually work for the people of Miami-Dade county, not sell them out to the Trump administration like Gimenez did by cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, otherwise known as ICE, in 2017 or selling out to building developers like he did by spearheading the 836 expressway extension last year, which will worsen traffic, and put more tolls in Kendall (as if Kendall residents aren’t charged tolls to death already).

    He’s a Republican. Gimenez is anti-immigrant, like his party, and is anti-environment, like his party. Now it’s time for Democrats to provide voters with a clear Democratic choice for the 2020 election.

  3. SamFeldman   March 15, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    I definitely agree with Grant Stern. Parties are involved in the background with the candidates and there is nothing to stop them from working the campaigns. The candidates can keep quiet, say nothing about their affiliation and still act totally partisan while in office.

    These non-partisan races are required to be non-partisan by state law. However, all this does is hide from the voters the political bent and ideological leanings of a candidate. This makes for rotten elections.

  4. Jose   March 16, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    I used to be a Republican but left the party before Trump .

    However on a local level , I am not concerned about the letter R or the letter D or we wind up with officials like DA Kathleen Rundle who was a disaster as a Democrat and a disaster as a Republican who in my opinion seems to enable , at minimum look the other way when it comes to Cuban political corruption .

    Though born in Cuba I didn’t live in Miami till few years ago (my parents left Miami first year we were here ) , the standards here are rather low and MOST Hispanics think that complaining to each other is the same thing as voting , politely emailing a politician, etc.

    Look at Hialeah whether ” D ” or ” R ” they get a self serving disaster so again on a local level I look at the individual more so then the letter .

    I dont agree that Miami is Democrat because Miami until recently has always been Republican , just look at the majority of Senators , Congress .

    The older ” Cuba libre ” Cubans are a voting machine and most just vote on the letter R . My grandmothers friends , my Aunts and Uncle’s who all live in Miami blindly vote for the letter ” R” .

    Hispanic politicos leave a lot to be desired and whether we are from the Caribbean , Central , South America .The politicos are for the most part organized crime so on a local level I’m just looking for quasi honest who work for the people of Miami , in other words I live in fantasy land , lol.

    Seriously though on local level dont become blind to a letter .

  5. Jose   March 16, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    Grant Stern,
    Great post just like the other 2 gentlemen but there comes a point that voters here need to do a tiny bit of research which online takes minutes .

    A family friend who is Puerto Rican but left the island before the hurricane because it was a poorly run mess said ” Puerto Rico is poorly run by political crooks because the people wouldn’t have it any other way” .