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Miami-Dade mayoral recall, the talk of the town

Tune into Miami's Spanish-language airwaves these days and chances are discussion will be about Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez and County Commissioner Natacha Seijas, who face recall elections next Tuesday.

Wednesday morning, a chatty Alvarez went on WQBA-1140 AM, where he spoke much more comfortably and extensively than he did last year about the controversial budget, approved by a majority of county commissioners, that raised the property tax rate.

"I don't consider myself a victim," Alvarez said. "I think I’ve had the bad luck of being mayor in a large, urban, difficult city in a period of time when it has been extremely difficult to do the work of a mayor."

His first four years were good, Alvarez said, because the economy was booming and money was rolling in. In the last two and a half years, "people have not been happy,” he acknowledged. "People don't want services to be reduced. They don’t want to pay [higher] taxes."

The mayor said county bureaucracy has been cut "plenty," and suggested billionaire businessman Norman Braman, who led the recall charge, does not understand how county government works. "The private sector cannot be compared to the public sector," he said. "The mission of the public sector is to give services. Most of the services we give don’t make money."

Later this year, Alvarez warned, he or another mayor will have to continue to make unpopular choices. "A lot of things that could be cut without people noticing the effect has already been done," he said.

Wednesday night, television station America TeVe aired an interview with Seijas, who indicated she would support a special election for voters to elect new leaders if the recall efforts are successful.

"If they had the ability or the courtesy to sign a petition, they should have the right to vote for the person to represent them," she said. "It's a question of democracy." She doesn't like the recall, she added, but "it's a democratic and acceptable situation," Seijas said.

The station polled other Hispanic commissioners on the topic of what to do if Alvarez is recalled. Rebeca Sosa and Javier Souto said they would support a special election. Commissioner Chairman Joe Martinez, who has said he would seek the mayoral post in 2012, said appointing an interim mayor is still on the table.

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