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Miami-Dade mayor launches reelection campaign

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez kicked off his reelection campaign Wednesday morning, less than 10 months since he was elected to finish the term of former Mayor Carlos Alvarez, who was ousted last year in a recall.

Gimenez, surrounded by family and friends at La Carreta restaurant on Bird Road, said casting a ballot for him in the August election would signal "continuing a fundamental shift" in how Florida's largest county is governed.

"I've kept my word to you," he said, speaking in English and Spanish. "It's a new day at County Hall."

Gimenez touted decreasing the property-tax rate, reducing the county budget, maintaining social services for seniors and shrinking the size of government, partly by doing away with 1,600 county positions. He also mentioned getting rid of executive benefit packages for his staff.

"I stand by my record and will proudly run on that record," said Gimenez, whose chief opponent will be Commission Chairman Joe Martinez.

Gimenez, who imposed a controversial healthcare concession on employee unions, told reporters that this year's budget should be less painful -- though he will ask unions for the same concessions.

"We need the same concessions we asked for last year," he said. "I'm not going to ask more from the unions."

The campaign launch at La Carreta was attended by a handful of current and former elected officials who back Gimenez, including state Sen. Gwen Margolis, South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, former Miami Mayor Joe Carollo, former Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Cancio and former state Rep. Marcelo Llorente.  They wore Gimenez campaign pins, passed around bumper stickers and snacked on Cuban coffee and guava pastries.

Gimenez was introduced by his wife, Lourdes, who held baby Lucas, one of the couple's four grandchildren.

"It seems almost unbelievable that we're here again," she said.

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