Alberto Carvalho is not, technically, a politician.
But as superintendent of the Miami-Dade County public school district, one of the largest in the country, he knows a thing or two about persuading policymakers (school board members) and running campaigns (for a $1.2 billion taxpayer-backed bond program). And few public figures in South Florida are more smooth in their dealings with elected officials and the public than Carvalho, who has been known as Mr. Armani.
Which is why he has long been rumored as a candidate for office -- county mayor, perhaps, or member of Congress.
Carvalho said Sunday that he's not interested. But he wouldn't rule politics out.
Do you have ambitions to run for public office? Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4 investigative reporter Jim DeFede asked on Facing South Florida.
"Um," Carvalho began.
DeFede cut him off: "That's a yes..."
"I'm constructing a politically correct answer," Carvalho responded with a glint in his eye. "I'm going to say no."
But not never.
For a while in the 1980s he was homeless, Carvalho added, spending a few nights on the back of U-Haul truck parked in front of a friend's apartment complex before moving into a temporary motel.
But any potential political campaign would undoubtedly mention Carvalho's brush with controversy around the time he was appointed schools chief in 2008. Emails surfaced purporting to show a romantic relationship between the married Carvalho and a former Herald education reporter. The emails were not authenticated, and Carvalho denied any impropriety.
He has since won over skeptics and earned national respect for the school district's achievements. His name has been bandied about for several higher positions in the state and federal education worlds.
For now, Carvalho told DeFede he loves what he's doing and wants to see the voter-approved bond program through.
"I'm not going to use the position of superintendent as a catapult for something else," he said.This post has been updated to reflect that Carvalho did not arrive in the U.S. aboard a ship. He only worked on one beforehand.