Miami-Dade's political circuit was buzzing Monday on news that John Rivera, longtime president of the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association, had lost his reelection bid as president of the powerful union.
Rivera lost to a former ally and deputy, Steadman Stahl, a sergeant with the county police force and executive vice president of the PBA's Miami-Dade chapter. Rivera, first elected union chief in 1993, confirmed his loss in a telephone interview Monday. "I respect their decision," he said.
The election results were welcome news at County Hall. Mayor Carlos Gimenez has been a top foe of Rivera, who has fought the Gimenez administration on contract talks and compared the mayor to both herpes and a terrorist over various disputes about police funding and contract provisions.
In a statement, Gimenez spokesman Michael Hernández said the mayor "looks forward to working with the new leadership of the Dade County PBA."
On the PBA website, Stahl said his decision to challenge Rivera "was difficult" but that he wanted a more collaborative system of leadership for the union. "We have gone from having many voices to having just one, and when that one voice will not allow others to speak, be heard, or have an opinion, that is a sure sign of failure," Stahl wrote.
In an interview Monday night, Stahl said he planned to be far less confrontational with the Gimenez administration.
"The biggest change, I think, will be to have some dialogue. Instead of just fighting all the time," he said. "I think the days of throwing battery acid have passed."