The 2016 mayoral field in Miami-Dade County became a little clearer Monday when Rebeca Sosa, the former chairwoman of the County Commission, said definitively she will not run for the office.
"I'm not running," she said in an interview, one day after school board member Raquel Regalado announced she would. "I'm totally concentrated on my district, and so many needed issues at the county level."
Now in her fourth term on the County Commission, Sosa was said to be privately toying with the idea of a run against Mayor Carlos Gimenez in 2016.
She led the failed opposition to Gimenez's $9 million subsidy package for SkyRise Miami, and sponsored legislation that gave one-time raises to non-union county workers after Gimenez's budget failed to include the extra compensation. After two years as chairwoman of the commission, Sosa could have brought high visibility to the race and a strong following among the all-important Hispanic voters.
A close ally of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, Sosa also courts the more liberal wing of Miami-Dade County with initiatives tied to climate change and carving out more time for the Ludlam Trail planning process.
It was never clear how serious Sosa was considering a mayoral run. After drawing no challengers for her 2014 reelection effort, Sosa returned contributions from her $300,000 war chest. ("They gave it to me for a reason," Sosa said Monday of campaign donations. "If that reason goes away...")
In past interviews, Sosa has said she was happy with her current job. But this appears to be the first time she has definitely said she is not running for Miami-Dade mayor. (We'll update this post with other instances as they come up.)
Sosa did reveal one possible task in 2016 involving the mayoral post: Eliminating it as it functions today. She said she wants Miami-Dade to repeal its "strong mayor" form of government, instituted by voters in 2007, and go back to the system of a county manager being the top executive. "I think the strong mayor is hurting us," she said. "The county is too big.
"The mayor needs to concentrate on connecting with the public and the people, and let the professionals manage the government," she said.
As for Regalado, Sosa had kind words but not an endorsement. "I think Raquel is a very bright woman. I have a great relationship with her father," Sosa said of Tomás Regalado, Miami's mayor. "Let's see what happens."
On Gimenez, she said: "I agree on some things with the mayor, and I disagree on some things with the mayor."