MIAMI (AP) _ A judge overturned a vote by Miami residents that would have forced Mayor Joe Carollo to run for re-election in March instead of at the end of his term in the fall of 2001.

Voters had approved a charter amendment in November that strengthened the office of mayor by eliminating the city manager position and transferring many of its duties to the mayor.

Because the mayor's duties would be drastically changed, the amendment required Carollo's term to end early.

But Circuit Court Judge Fredricka Smith ruled Tuesday that the provision amounted to an illegal recall, and that changing Carollo's duties wasn't sufficient reason to cut short his term.

``A mayor is a mayor is a mayor,'' Smith wrote.

Carollo came to office after a state appeals court unseated Xavier Suarez following a vote fraud scandal stemming from the 1997 mayoral election.

The Miami City Commission, which proposed the amendment, has had an acrimonious relationship with Carollo and is expected to appeal Smith's ruling.