Special to South Florida Times

Julio Robaina, who resigned as Hialeah’s mayor on Monday, and former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez emerged as frontrunners in a special election Tuesday for Miami-Dade mayor.

They garnered 33.74 percent and 28.85 percent of the vote, respectively, in a race to replace ousted Mayor Carlos Alvarez and will face each other in a June 28 runoff. The winner will finish Alvarez’s term that ends in November 2012.

Voters also rejected, by substantial margins, four of five charter amendment proposals, approving only one that prohibits lobbying by elected county officials for two years after returning to private life.

Rapper-turned-businessman Luther “Luke” Campbell, one of four blacks in the race, got 10.99 percent of the votes in the election that saw only 15 percent of the county’s registered 1.2 million voters going to the polls.

Roosevelt Bradley got 3.84 percent of the votes, Wilbur Bell, 1.19 percent, and Eddie Lewis, 0.66 percent.

In a post-election interview, Bradley described voter turnout as disappointing. He is already eying the general election in 2012.

“For the next 16 months, I’ll be all over Miami-Dade County letting people know who I am and what I’m about. This was a 30-day campaign, a good starter, but, for the 2012 election, I will register and jump on my campaign trail early so this won’t happen again,” said Bradley, a former county transit director.

Bell, a longtime Redland Community Council member, described the election as “a good experience that gives others hopes about what they can achieve.”

He is hoping that Robaina and Gimenez “will reach out and include the black community.”
“People need to feel that the Miami-Dade County mayor is everyone’s mayor,” Bell said
Campbell and Lewis could not be reached for comment by deadline.

Earlier in the day, one voter, Gloria Gipson, described  turnout at the North Dade Regional Library,  2455 NW 183rd St., Miami Gardens, as “sporadic at best.” She did not think there had been enough time to get ready for the voting after Alvarez was recalled just in March.

“Maybe if there was more time people could have been comfortable making a choice. Many of [the candidates] are strangers,” she said.

Sandra Smith, like Gipson, a Bradley supporter, predicted on election day that there would be a runoff and that a black candidate would be in it, making for “a wake-up call for Dade.”
Lacy Ann Comer, who voted at Moore Park, 765 NW 36th St. in Allapattah, described the precinct as “a ghost town when I got there with my daughter.”

“It was sinful. For once we have a chance and nobody cares. We need a black man to stay in the race, not just show up for entertainment and good looks,” she said. “Our area needs support just like those in South Dade.”

Cynthia Roby can be reached at CynthiaRoby@bellsouth.net