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Three incumbents and several political newcomers are officially running in this year’s election in the city of Miami — including someone who lives outside city limits.
As of Saturday’s 6 p.m. qualifying deadline, 17 people had registered to be on the ballot across three races for elected office at Miami City Hall. Miami voters will decide whether to give Mayor Francis Suarez and Commissioner Joe Carollo four more years. Commissioner Jeffrey Watson, appointed last November, is also on the ballot.
One would-be mayoral candidate, Mayra Joli, will face an immediate obstacle because she lives in Coral Gables, according to a sworn affidavit she submitted Saturday to Miami’s city clerk. Under the the city code, officials are required to take the discrepancy to court so a circuit judge can determine whether Joli is eligible to run for office in the city of Miami.
Joli briefly gained internet fame after nodding and giving former President Donald Trump a thumbs up during a televised town hall in Miami before the 2020 election. Earlier this year, she ran for a seat on the Coral Gables City Commission -- another indication she does not meet Miami’s residency requirement. In order to qualify for a mayoral election in Miami, a candidate needs to have lived inside city limits for at least one year before the qualifying date.
It’s unclear if Joli’s name will appear on the ballot because the city is expected to seek clarification in court, and it’s unknown if the matter will be resolved before Miami-Dade County’s Elections Department prints ballots.
The ballot will include some familiar names in Miami politics, including the three incumbents: Suarez, Carollo and Watson. Watson, who has faced criticism because he had promised to sit out the election, cemented his candidacy.
Elections for mayor, commissioners
Miami’s executive mayor, elected citywide, is a mostly ceremonial position that comes with little legislative power. The mayor can veto legislation, which can be overriden by the five-person City Commission. The mayor can hire and fire the city manager, city government’s chief executive, though the commission can fire the manager, too. To push an agenda, Miami’s figurehead mayor has to convince commissioners to support their issues and promote their initiatives to the public.
Commissioners vote on big-ticket city contracts, leases of public land, major zoning changes and other city laws that impact everyday life for people living inside city limits. They also vote on Miami’s $1 billion budget, the plan for how to spend taxpayer dollars to pay the city’s 4,000-person workforce, maintain city parks, manage roads and make sure the garbage gets picked up.
Two commission seats are up for election: District 3, which includes Little Havana, The Roads, Shenandoah and a sliver of Brickell; and District 5, a majority-Black area that includes Overtown, Wynwood, Little Haiti, Liberty City and the Upper Eastside.
The deadline to register to vote in Miami’s city election is Oct. 4. The Miami-Dade County Elections Department is expected to send vote-by-mail ballots out on Oct. 5. The election is Nov. 2.
Mayor Francis Suarez, 43, incumbent
Maxwell Martinez Martinez, 30
Anthony Melvin Dutrow, 76
Marie Frantz Exantus, 45
Francisco “Frank” Pichel, 59
Mayra Joli, 55
Commissioner Joe Carollo, 66, incumbent
Rodney Quinn Smith, 39
Andriana Oliva, 38
Miguel Soliman, 59
Commissioner Jeffrey Watson, 64, incumbent
Christine King, 55
Michael Hepburn, 38
Francois Alexandre, 35
Zico Fremont. 34
Stephanie Thomas, 52
Revran Shoshana Lincoln, 84