Despite a special election on Tuesday and a runoff set for June 28, the picture that has been emerging from Miami-Dade County government is one of a serious leadership vacuum. The problem is compounded by the fact that voters seem to have very little interest in what is happening.

Mr. Carlos Alvarez was removed from office in March with some 80 percent of the ballots cast against him. But, in a county with 1.2 million registered voters, the turnout was only 17 percent – less athan one in five voters.  The special election to replace him saw an even smaller turnout, around 15 percent.

The election reduced the field of candidates from 11 to two: Mr. Carlos Gimenez and Mr. Julio Robaina. Even so, whoever wins will be in office only for about 18 months and then a new mayor will have to be elected.

So what exactly do residents of Miami-Dade County want and what, if anything, was the message of the Alvarez recall? If the dissatisfaction was as widespread as has been made out, surely more voters would have turned out to recall  him and even more to pick a successor.

There is little that can be done now except hope that whoever wins will be a good caretaker mayor, because that is mostly what he will be until someone is elected to a full term.

If that provides a respite for voters to ponder  the issue of leadership, then something at least will have been salvaged from the wreck at County Hall.

In any case, it is not too late to affirm the basic qualities expected of the official who, as executive mayor, holds substantial power over the affairs of the county. These qualities are integrity, strength of purpose tempered with a willingness to compromise when necessary – and vision to move Miami-Dade County out of the myriad hurdles that are preventing it from living up to its promise of a truly world-class megapolis.