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Miami-Dade mayor plans to vote 'Yes' on courthouse, FIU ballot questions - but doesn't think they'll pass


The good news for supporters of two Miami-Dade County questions on the Nov. 4 ballot: Mayor Carlos Gimenez says he will "probably" vote for both of them.

The bad news? He's got a one-word answer when asked if he thinks they'll pass: "No."

Last week, county commissioners agreed to ask voters if Florida International University should be allowed to expand onto public fairgrounds on Tamiami Park. Separately, voters will also be asked to approve $393 million in new government debt -- which means a likely property-tax rate increase -- to pay for a new civil courthouse and to repair the existing one.

"I think FIU has a better chance of passing than the courthouse," Gimenez told the Miami Herald on Monday. Of the courthouse, he added: "Unless the judges and the legal community go out and explain why it's necessary, I don't think people will see that it's necessary. I, on the other hand, have seen it."

The mayor has acknowledged the need for a new courthouse -- and for FIU to expand -- but the groups campaigning for both referendums would probably prefer a stronger endorsement from him. Among the political consultants working on behalf of FIU's political action committee, Friends of Higher Education, is Freddy Balsera, who employs Gimenez's son Carlos J. Gimenez.

Mayor Gimenez, a student of public-opinion polls, has been reluctant to endorse potentially unpopular ballot questions in the past. Last year, he questioned an $830 million bond for Jackson Health System two days before the election. His son worked on that race, too.

Voters still approved the measure, and Gimenez said he ultimately voted Yes.