Note: We’ve updated this guide to reflect the runoff election happening June 19.
Everyone’s talking about the August and November elections, but there was an important local election on May 22 that will have an impact for a lot of folks in Miami and Miami Beach—the race for the District 5 county commission seat.
Candidates Eileen Higgins and Zoraida Barreiro earned about 35 and 33 percent of the vote respectively in the May special election, forcing a runoff between the two.
The district is drawn in a kinda weird way and covers Little Havana, Downtown Miami, South Beach and most of Mid and North Beach. Here’s where you can find your nearest early voting spots and see a sample ballot.
Here’s our primer on the race.
HOW’D WE GET HERE?
The short answer: Commissioner Bruno Barreiro created a vacancy when he stepped down from his seat in order to run for the congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
The longer answer: Barreiro stepped down because of a change in Florida law that forced him to resign in order to run. Several state and local politicians had to decide whether to give up their current office to run for the seat.
The county commission could have appointed a replacement, but instead it opted for an election. Now every voter in District 5 will have a say.
WHEN WAS ELECTION DAY?
May 22. Early voting starts May 12.
WHEN IS THE RUNOFF ELECTION?
June 19. Early voting starts June 9.
WHO ARE THE CANDIDATES?
Zoraida Barreiro, Alex Diaz de la Portilla, Carlos Garin and Eileen Higgins. Here’s some background on them from the Miami Herald. Garin and Diaz de la Portilla were defeated in the May election.
HOW MUCH MONEY HAVE THEY RAISED?
Here’s the numbers as of May 25:
Diaz de la Portilla- $156,000
WHAT AREA DOES THE DISTRICT COVER?
It covers parts of the cities of Miami and Miami Beach, plus Fisher Island.
In Miami it covers: Downtown, Brickell Key, the northeast chunk of Brickell, The Roads, Shenandoah, Grapeland and Little Havana.
In Miami Beach it covers all of the city from South Pointe up to 69th Street, plus Hibiscus, Palm and Star Islands.
Not sure you’re in the district? Check this map.
WHAT DOES A COUNTY COMMISSIONER DO?
The commission votes on proposed legislation on everything from parks and libraries to the annual county budget.
They are one of 13 commissioners, all of them with a geographically defined district (some local governments have “at-large” seats that claim the whole municipality as their voters, but that’s not the case here).
If you really want to dig deep, their duties are spelled out in the county’s charter (skip to page 12).
HOW LONG WILL THE WINNER BE IN THIS SEAT?
Barreiro was in the middle of a four-year term that he won in 2016 (he ran unopposed), so the winner will be on the commission for about two more years.
CAN THE WINNER RUN FOR THE SEAT AGAIN IN 2020?
Yeah, if they want to stick around. Since they’re completing Barreiro’s term they’d be running for their own four-year term from scratch.