Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez turned five months of experience at the helm of the city into a first-place election finish Tuesday when he fended off challenges from two political stalwarts — including former Mayor Raul Martinez, whom Hernandez will face in two weeks in a runoff.
Hernandez’s win surprised a political establishment that expected Martinez, who ruled Hialeah as strong mayor for 24 years, to top the four-way contest. Former state Sen. Rudy Garcia and newcomer George Castro came in third and fourth place, respectively.
“We’re here to work, and we’ll continue to work,” a triumphant Hernandez, who won 40 percent of the vote to Martinez’s 34, told supporters outside his campaign headquarters late Tuesday. “Today is a night of celebration, but this isn’t over. In 14 days comes the real victory.”
In a slew of other municipal races Tuesday, voters reelected the mayors of Miami Beach and Homestead, and kept two Miami commissioners in office.