In a story in last week's issue, we painted Julio Robaina as the front runner in the 2012 Miami-Dade County mayoral race despite the fact he hadn't officially announced his intentions yet. Well, right on cure Robaina has announced that he will seek the office. The second term mayor of Hialeah made his announcement on a Spanish-language radio station this morning before releasing an English-language statement through Facebook.
Here's Robaina's Facebook announcement:
Today I announced after much thought and consideration to run for Mayor of Miami-Dade County in 2012. The county is out of touch with its residents, which is negatively affecting us all and our futures. What I envisioned as a resident and public servant for this county is not being reflected in the decisions being made. I hope to count on your support in my decision.
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Robaino is known as a high-powered Republican fundraiser and quite popular in his city, but as Francisco Alvarado pointed out he may face some problems:
But Robaina's ambitions could get derailed if opponents capitalize on his questionable job as Hialeah mayor. Not only has he slashed low-paid workers' salaries while barely trimming his own, he's mixed private and public business while allowing a high-ranking city administrator to accommodate his girlfriend with a well-paying city job.
For example, Robaina's critics have often cited the case of Hialeah budget head Alexander Vega, who in 2008 was accused by his then-estranged wife of having an affair with one of his subordinates, internal auditor Ana Maria Gonzalez. In February 2009, Vega transferred his girlfriend -- now his wife -- to a newly created job in the city's Department of Education and Community Services that pays $74,000 per year. Robaina approved the transfer, according to Gonzalez's employee file.
"This is the type of preferential treatment that Robaina perpetuates," says parks employee Aguilar. "Yet the hard workers get screwed."
Former State Rep. Marcello Llorente has already announced his intentions to run, and others like County Commissioners Carlos Gimenez and Joe Martinez may throw their hats in the ring.