by Javier Manjarres
The Latin Builders Association hosted the first Miami-Dade Mayoral debate at a standing room only luncheon that saw the three candidates, Marcelo Llorente, Julio Robaina and Carlos Gimenez, make their cases as to why each thinks he is best suited to lead the county. Earlier in the day, ‘Pepe’ Cancio also threw his hat in the ring, but he did not join in the debate and watched the other candidates from the audience.
Channel 10′s own Michael Putney moderated the debate and started off by asking the candidates as to how each of them planned to help the ailing Miami economy. Both former State Legislator Marcelo Llorente and County Commissioner agreed that the county’s assests needed to be marketed in order to bring new industries to the area, thus creating new jobs. Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina added that the crippling regulations that stiffle new construction growth needed to be eliminated because he believes that a good portion of the unemployed are constructions workers, at least within the city of Hialeah.
On the topic of the controversial Urban Development Boundary (UDB), Mayor Robaina was against the idea of extending the boundary, saying that the county must first focus on developing the eastern portion of the county-revamping cities & utilities before building further west. Llorente also opposes the UBD, stating that his opposition to the move would be predicated on the county looking into the costs of infrastructure needed in a boundary move. Gimenez is open-minded to the merits of each individual cases presented, but would rather see redevelopment in existing urban areas, before any expansion west.
Putney then asked the candidates if they were in favor of the proposed Hotel ‘Bed Tax’ piece of Legislation coming out of Tallahassee. All three candidates emphatically opposed the bill due to the fact that the $225 million collected from taxpayers would go to funding structural additions to the existing Dolphins Stadium. Commissioner Gimenez also stated that he was even against the public taxpayer funding of the new Marlins stadium when others were in favor of the funding, including Mayor Robaina. In the video below, Gimenez states that he remembers seeing Robaina standing before the Commission, stating that ‘it was a good deal’. Meanwhile, Robaina can be seen in the video shaking his head in disagreement with what Gimenez was accusing him of.
On March 23, 2009 Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina addressed the commission in regards to the funding of the Marlins stadium. Go to the 3:00 of the video embedded in this link http://miamidade.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=177