An open seat on the Miami-Dade Commission is so rare — and tantalizing — that perhaps it should be no surprise that this year’s race to replace outgoing Commissioner Joe Martinez has become such a no-holds-barred battle.
In their months-long campaign, political newcomer Manny Machado, former state Rep. Juan C. Zapata and their supporters have sniped over everything from stolen yard signs to their professional backgrounds to their personal dirty laundry.
The prize: representing Commission District 11, a stretch of unincorporated west Miami-Dade’s densely populated and largely Hispanic suburbs, including Lakes by the Meadow, the Hammocks and Country Walk.
With a chance to win a commission post without having to defeat a powerful incumbent, the stakes are high. Once elected, commissioners have been nearly impossible to unseat.
Two open seats came up for grabs last year, but that was unusual, with rushed special elections prompted by the recalls of Mayor Carlos Alvarez and Commissioner Natacha Seijas. The previous open-seat contest — two years ago, following the retirement of Commissioner Katy Sorenson — was fought tooth and nail.