Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is losing a top deputy to a lobbying job with Royal Caribbean, and is replacing him with a fellow former Miami fire chief.
Russell Benford, a long-serving deputy mayor under Gimenez, is leaving county government to become vice president of government relations with Royal Caribbean Cruises. Before joining the Gimenez administration in 2011, Benford was city manager of North Miami.
“I couldn’t be happier for Russell,” Gimenez said in a statement. “I have known Russell for years and consider him to be a personal friend. He is an extraordinary public servant and has served Miami-Dade County very well for six years.”
He's being replaced by Maurice Kemp, who retired as Miami's fire chief earlier this year. As deputy mayor, Kemp will oversee police, fire, housing and social services.
“Maurice has all the attributes that make up a great Deputy Mayor. He is kind, honest, intelligent, and a team player,” Gimenez said in a statement. “I had the honor of being one of Maurice’s mentors when I was the Fire Chief for the City of Miami and I can personally attest to his qualifications.”
Kemp joined the Miami Fire Department in 1985, and in 2009 he was appointed as the city’s first African-American fire chief.