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FIU campaigns for Miami-Dade expansion question


Florida International University has kicked off its advertising campaign as part of its bid to win voter approval to expand onto Miami-Dade County parkland.

Three television spots -- two in English, one in Spanish -- debuted over the past few days, just in time for the release of absentee ballots, which were mailed to domestic voters beginning Tuesday.

One of the English ads spotlights university President Mark Rosenberg who argues FIU needs space for more students. "We have the responsibility to ensure that they have the best opportunities right here at our university and outside the classroom," he says.

All the ads urge a "Yes" vote for a legal change that would ultimately allow the public school to take over 64 acres of Tamiami Park that comprise the county fairgrounds.

The nonprofit Miami-Dade County Youth Fair & Exposition leases the grounds and opposes FIU's plans. The terms of the organization's contract with the county say Miami-Dade is responsible for finding replacement fairgrounds and paying for a potential move. The ballot question says the county wouldn't be responsible for the costs.

While the Youth Fair has yet to organize a "No" campaign, FIU has raised about $1.3 million through its political action committee, Friends of Higher Education. Nearly half -- $600,000 -- came from the FIU Foundation. Healthcare tycoon Mike Fernandez contributed $100,000, as did physician Alberto Tano. Leon Advertising and Public Relations donated $50,000. The campaign is being run by veteran political consultant Steve Marin.