Commission candidate claims two city workers stumped on the clock for his opponent

An election in Allapattah means accusations of monkey business abound. Mike Suarez, one of nine candidates in a winner-take-all special election January 12 to replace former City of Miami Commissioner Angel Gonzalez, claims two city workers broke election laws while campaigning for frontrunner Wilfredo "Willy" Gort over the Christmas holiday.

"It's an outrage," Suarez fumes. "These people have a total disregard for the rules and a blatant disrespect for Miami taxpayers."

In the middle of the day on December 22, Suarez says, he caught Angel Gonzalez — an aide to the ex-commissioner but who is not related to him — visiting elderly voters at the Callahan Plaza Apartments at 2870 NW 18th Ave. The candidate alleges a resident told him Gonzalez was stumping for Gort. It is against the law for city employees to campaign while on the clock.

Suarez took photos of Gonzalez strolling the building's open-air hallways, as well as pics of his city-issued Chevrolet Cavalier parked in the complex's lot.

Four days later, Suarez says, he confronted Miami firefighter Alexander Cardenas after watching him collect absentee ballots from two voters residing at 1651 NW 31st Ave. He called the cops and accused Cardenas of instructing the residents to vote for Gort on their ballots. According to a Miami Police incident report, the voters told the responding officers that Cardenas "did not influence their vote in any way nor did he witness who they voted for."

Nevertheless, Suarez says, he reported Gonzalez and Cardenas to City Manager Pete Hernandez and the public corruption unit of the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. The two city employees could not be reached for comment. Gort says Suarez should stick to the issues and what he has to offer residents of Miami's District 1.

"We are running a clean campaign," Gort grouses. "No crime has been committed."

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.