Suarez Says Voter Unity, Defeat Of Rival Commissioner Could Signal New Era
MIAMI (AP) _ Mayor Xavier Suarez declared a new era in Miami politics after he won re- election with support from all three of the city’s largest ethnic groups and saw a City Commission foe lose his seat in the runoff.
Suarez, Miami’s first Cuban-born mayor, won his second two-year term by a vote of 29,826, or 62 percent, to 18,173, or 38 percent, for former six-term Mayor Maurice Ferre, a native of Puerto Rico.
The 38-year-old mayor called his wide margins among blacks, Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites ″the completion of a dream.″
″Miami’s ethnic groups voted together,″ he told cheering supporters. ″Special-interest politics are not going to hold sway in Miami.″
″This was a healthy election that saw all three ethnic groups agreeing on a direction for the city,″ said political consultant Dick Rundell, who didn’t work for a candidate in this city election.
The runoff election was seen as a chance for Miami’s black community to play a key role after a black candidate came in third in the general election. Their choice was Suarez.
Bill Perry, a Suarez supporter and former president of the Greater Miami National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said a last-minute endorsement of Ferre by some black ministers may have backfired.
″Some of the black leadership attempted to run a game, went through a charade,″ he said. ″People resented it as an insult to black voters.″
Suarez took 63 percent of the vote in 26 predominantly black precincts, final unofficial returns showed.
Suarez had special words for Commissioner Joe Carollo, a fervent anti- communist and frequent opponent of Suarez, who lost by a wide margin to 34- year-old lawyer Victor De Yurre. Suarez said Carollo ″can not blame this on the communists.″
″Carollo’s been a dissident factor on the City Commission for seven years. Now we could have a much more effective commission,″ said Rundell.
He said Carollo’s campaigns against anything even remotely tied to leftist politics appealed to a generation of Cubans who vividly remember the trauma of leaving Cuba in exile.
″You have a whole crop of smart young Cubans,″ he said. ″Every semester, there’s a new semester of English-speaking Cubans graduating from school here.″
He said their politics is more low-key and pragmatic than the ardent anti- communist rhetoric of their parents.
The incumbent said after the election that he finally has a working coalition on the City Commission.
Rundell said Suarez’s leadership has been like ″a ship in a calm.″
″I think now you’ll see him raising some sails,″ he said Wednesday. ″The rule of thumb is you need two out of three ethnic groups to get elected. Too often in the past, they have geared a campaign to offend one of the groups.″
Ferre said this loss was not as painful as 1985 when he lost the mayor’s job.
″This is the happiest, most positive campaign I have ever run and I’m proud of that,″ said Ferre, who once enjoyed strong support among blacks. He was mayor during the race riots in the early 1980s, and his support in the black community further eroded after the 1984 firing of black City Manager Howard Gary.
Perry said the incumbent’s popularity in the black community is only lukewarm and hinted that Suarez’s dream of building unity is not yet complete.
″Some of us went out on a limb to support him,″ Perry said. ″We need to make him accountable.″