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James Reyes, a longtime jail warden and head of public safety for Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, is running for Miami-Dade County sheriff as a Democrat.
Reyes, 46, filed for the partisan race on Monday, according to the county Elections Department website. The filing came 10 weeks after Levine Cava promoted him from director of the Corrections Department to a deputy position that also oversees police and fire rescue. Levine Cava recruited Reyes to run Miami-Dade Corrections in late 2022 from the Broward Sheriff’s Office, where he also supervised the county’s jail system.
“I am humbled to serve the community that gave me, a kid who fled the dangers of communism, a true shot at the American Dream,” Reyes, who was born in Cuba and attended high school in Hialeah, said in a press release announcing his run.
Miami-Dade’s jail system will remain under the authority of the mayor next January, when an independent Miami-Dade sheriff is slated to take office for the first time since the 1960s under a state constitutional amendment approved in 2018. Florida law requires Miami-Dade to turn over the county’s existing police department to the sheriff.
Reyes has mostly worked in the detention side of law enforcement since starting his career with Broward in 2000, according to a resume on file with Miami-Dade. For the three years before joining Miami-Dade, Reyes was director of administration, overseeing budget and finance for the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
In running for sheriff as Levine Cava’s senior face of law enforcement as chief of public safety, Reyes also shares the Democratic mayor’s political affiliation. He hired Levine Cava’s campaign director, Christian Ulvert, and Ulvert’s Edge Communications to run his campaign.
It was a similar arrangement to the one used by Freddy Ramirez, who previously served as police director and public safety chief under Levine Cava and who also tapped Ulvert to handle his campaign as a Democratic candidate for sheriff. That effort ended in July when Ramirez attempted suicide after a confrontation with police at a Tampa convention.
When Ramirez joined the race on May 1, there were two other candidates running. When he formally withdrew Sept. 29, there were 10 others. With Reyes joining the field, there are now 16 candidates for sheriff ahead of the June filing deadline.
Steadman Stahl, president of the Police Benevolent Association, Miami-Dade’s police union, said he expects as many as 20 candidates to run for a position county voters abolished in the 1960s after corruption scandals.
“It’s easier to run when you’re not running against an incumbent,” Stahl said. “This is your chance to get in.”
It’s a GOP-heavy field, with 12 Republican candidates. Candidates will compete in their party’s primary in August, then the winners will face off in November.
Here’s a list of who is running for sheriff besides Reyes, including biographical information compiled from public records and candidate statements:
Ignacio Alvarez, Republican
Once a major in charge of MDPD’s Special Victims Bureau, Alvarez retired from the agency in 2017 after 25 years. He currently works as a lawyer at the Algo firm in Coral Gables, which he founded.
Jose Aragu, Republican
Aragu is a major with MDPD, assigned to the Midwest District, according to a campaign biography. He joined the agency in 2006 after a little more than a year with the West Miami Police Department.
John Barrow, Democrat
Currently a major and the head of MDPD’s Personnel Management Bureau, Barrow has been with the agency for 17 years. He was a teacher before starting his law enforcement career.
Jaspen Bishop, Republican
Bishop is an office with the Miami-Dade County Police Department, and joined the agency in 2019.
Rosanna ‘Rosie’ Cordero-Stutz, Republican
Cordero-Stutz has been an MDPD employee for 27 years, rising to the rank of assistant director for support services. That’s the division that oversees records, personnel and communications. A campaign press release said Ramirez appointed Cordero-Stutz to oversee an MDPD transition team for the conversion to a Sheriff’s Office in early 2025.
Ruamen de la Rua, Republican
De la Rua worked for the Miami Police Department (MPD) in the 1980s before moving to the Ocala area. There he worked for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office for 26 years, retiring as a district commander. He’s now back at MPD, having rejoined the department in 2013.
Alexander Fornet, Republican
The owner of a Credit Doctor credit-repair business in Doral, Fornet worked for MDPD for a few months in 2008, according to agency records. Fornet said the quick exit was a result of an injury during training, followed by multiple years of volunteering as a county reserve officer.
Susan Khoury, Democrat
A candidate for Miami-Dade commission last year, Khoury helped advocate for the revival of the county’s police-review board in 2020. She worked as an agent in federal inspector general offices in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Mario Knapp, Republican
A retired MDPD major, Knapp worked for the Special Patrol Bureau, overseeing the bomb squad, canine unit, marine patrol and other units. He worked at MDPD for 27 years, between 1994 and 2021.
Orlando Lopez, Republican
The first LGBTQ liaison for MDPD, Lopez works for the agency’s transit squad, which provides law enforcement presence on Metrorail and Metromover. Lopez, a sergeant, joined the department in 2005. He’s also a member of Miami-Dade’s LGBTQIA+ Advisory Board.
Rickey Mitchell, Democrat
The second candidate to join the race, Mitchell retired as an MDPD lieutenant in 2006. He worked for MDPD for 25 years after working in the training division and for Community Oriented Policing Section.
Rolando Riera Jr., Republican
An MDPD officer since 2004, Riera is a sergeant assigned to the Miami Lakes district. The municipality contracts with Miami-Dade to provide police services.
John Rivera, Republican
Retired from the MDPD, Rivera is best known as a long-serving union president. He led the PBA from 1993 until losing the 2017 election to Stahl. He worked at MDPD, both as an investigator and in his union post, for 43 years, joining the force in 1975.
Ernesto Rodriguez, Republican
Rodriguez is a lieutenant with the county’s Agricultural and Environmental Crimes unit. He joined MDPD in 1987, and two sons followed him into the county police force, too.
Joe Sanchez, Republican
A city of Miami commissioner between 1998 and 2009, Sanchez was working as a trooper and a uniformed public information officer for the Florida Highway Patrol when he filed for the Republican primary for sheriff on Jan. 8, 2024. He said he is taking a leave of absence from the post to run for sheriff.