Photo: Miami-Dade's Mayor Carlos Alvarez before being voted OUT of office
In a special vote on Tuesday, Carlos Alvarez was removed as mayor of Miami-Dade county in Florida. The vote was triggered by an overwhelming majority of voters angry about a hike in property taxes.
Miami-Dade is one of the largest counties in the country, with about 2.5 million people. Before all the votes had even been counted, it was clear they were now in Alvarez’s favor. At one point, with just under 85 percent of the votes in, 88 percent of the votes were for the ousting of Alvarez.
The Republican mayor was first elected in 2004, then re-elected in 2008. The recall bid was headed by billionaire anti-tax advocate, Norman Braman. The former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles said the increase in property taxes would cause an “erosion in the quality of life” in Miami. Braman was a Spanish-language radio regular though he does not speak Spanish. He succeeded in getting Hispanics in the area to vote against the mayor, many of them already feeling betrayed my Alvarez.
Last year, Alvarez, 58, pushed through a budget that raised property taxes by 14 percent for 40 percent of the county’s homeowners, despite a double digit decrease in property values.
Two years ago, Alvarez told Miami to brace themselves for “tough times,” and then proceeded to give his aides relatively large raises. His former chief of staff’s salary went from $185,484 to $206,783.
And taking it as a slap in the face, the area’s residents, dealing with foreclosures and increased taxes, have to witness Alvarez drive around in a stylish BMW 500i Gran Turismo, which taxpayers help subsidize.
The Cuban-born now-former mayor, was raising taxes at a time when other counties and states are lowering them to stimulate the economy, and residents had had enough.
“Why would you raise property taxes when many people are fighting just to hold on to their homes? And then he raises salaries for some county workers,” said housewife Olga Navon, 45-year-old housewife. “He should have looked for another solution and been more sensitive at a time when people are worried about the economy and their jobs.”
Now, county commissioners can appoint an executive to serve the rest of Alvarez’s term – ending in late 2012 – or call a special election.