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Carlos Alvarez: I tell people all the time there isn't another candidate running for mayor that has the experience that I do.
But on whatissue do you differ?
Issues? I don't know. My main issue is that the procurement process in Dade County needs to be changed. The Dade County Commission is a legislative body and it should set policy for Dade County. I do not believe that they should be involved in the approving of contracts, and they should not be involved in the awarding of contracts.
Miguel Diaz de la Portilla: I think I have a track record of effectiveness on tough issues that is second to none. I think that distinguishes me from everybody else in this race.
But on whatissue do you differ?
I have an innovative approach to dealing with the problems and inefficiencies at the airport. What it is, is basically getting the airport and making it an independent department, independent of the downtown bureaucracy, reporting directly to the mayor and to the commission with a group of private-sector advisers.
But which of your opponents doesn't favor a more independent, better-managed airport?
I'm unique in proposing a unique solution.
Truth be told, Diaz de la Portilla's unique solution for mismanagement and malfeasance at MIA is about the same as everyone else's. His "committee of industry experts and county commissioners" is Jimmy Morales's "board of directors," also known as an "airport authority." José Cancela and Carlos Alvarez are also in favor of that. Maurice Ferré opposes a conventional authority, but like his opponents he wants professional bureaucrats, not politicians, to control the awarding of MIA's lucrative contracts.
Jimmy Morales: On what significant specific issue do I differ from the other candidates? Ummm. Hmmph! A lot of the stuff, we all say the same thing. We all want economic development, we're all against poverty, we all want to fix public schools. I'm thinking back to all our debates we've had, where we've had some real significant differences. Well, I mean, it depends. There's different. I mean. For example. If you're talking about Commissioner de la Portilla and myself, huge difference on the issue of the human-rights ordinance, for example. He's opposed to it. I've championed it. My opposition to a publicly funded baseball stadium. I think Mr. Cancela and Mr. Alvarez, and I'm not sure about Mr. Ferré, have supported it in the debates. I've twice voted against it on the county commission. So that's an important issue.
(Human rights? An important issue for sure, but not in this election. Two years ago voters defeated an effort to repeal the human-rights ordinance. As for a baseball stadium, the county commission, not the mayor, decides how to spend taxpayer money, and the commission already approved a deal in which the county would kick in $120 million in hotel taxes toward a Marlins ballpark.)
José Cancela: The number-one issue is the fact that I've committed in writing my entire platform, or a good portion of my platform, specifically as it relates to the three barriers for true economic development in Miami-Dade County. Barrier number one being the lack of trust in county government, and I've proposed a specific plan on how to bring the pendulum back to center as it relates to trust. A specific action plan as it relates to the mayoral involvement in our public school system in making it better. And a specific game plan as it relates to starting to alleviate our traffic crisis now, not fifteen years from now.
But which of your opponents wants less trust, more traffic, and lower pay for teachers?
I don't know. None of them have put out a position paper. Ask them. I put out a specific game plan. The question is how am I different from my opponents? And the answer is: I've committed my plan in writing.
Isn't there one issue that sets you apart?
I don't want to run on one issue. I'm running on economic development. And we all know that in Dade County we're overtaxed. And we cannot afford to continue to pay taxes and to raise taxes on people and user fees. So the only way we're going to be able to maintain our quality of life and to enhance our quality of life is to be able to keep jobs here, meaningful jobs here, and be able to bring jobs here. And these are three barriers to true economic development.
Your opponents are not emphasizing those things?
I don't think they are. At least not in writing.
Maurice Ferré: I really don't know. I can tell you that I haven't gone through the process of distinguishing one from the other. You know, my attitude in this whole race is that I'm not running against anybody. And I think they're all good. Some of them are better than others but we have good candidates. And whoever gets elected mayor this time around, we're going to have a good mayor. There's more than one good candidate. A lot of them have some wonderful positions.
Wonderful positions, perhaps, but indistinguishable when it comes to significant and specific issues. "The serious candidates are all pretty much saying the same thing, is what I've found," says David Kennedy, a former Miami mayor and long-time Ferré adviser. "That's typical. I mean, the leading candidates know what the press and the people want to hear, so if they're smart and have good direction they all say about the same thing, because they know what you all want and they know what the public wants."