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Regalado campaigning hard for final term as mayor

D. Kevin McNeir | 10/17/2013, 9 a.m.

City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, 66, is considered the odds-on favorite in next month’s mayoral election — particularly since the sudden and surprising withdrawal of City Commissioner Francis Suarez from the race. But he says that he isn’t taking anything for granted and is out on the campaign trail almost every day, talking about a City that he “dearly loves” while promoting a platform that includes helping ex-offenders become tax-paying, working citizens, increasing the City’s reserves, putting more police officers on the streets and continuing to make the downtown corridor a safer and more economically vibrant area.

“I’m still campaigning hard because my enemy or maybe my greatest opponent is the perception that there is no election,” he said. “After Suarez withdrew some people assumed I was already elected. Some even congratulated me. But people must go to the polls. In fact, I am campaigning as if I were facing the most powerful opponent ever. This is my last time running for office and I’d like to know that I have a significant percentage of citizens supporting me.”

The daily grind and making the rounds

Regalado first arrived in Miami when he was 14 when his family sent him and his younger brother to the U.S. in order to escape the political unrest of Cuba. His father was a political prisoner for over 22 years and so he learned at an early age what it meant to sacrifice in order to support his mother and sibling. A veteran news reporter and radio commentator, Regalado got the politics bug in September 1996 when he was elected citywide as a city commissioner. He’s held public officer ever since. As for being too old, he laughs such comments off.

“If someone had ever dared to suggest that Athalie Range or Carrie Meek were too old for public office, folks would have quickly dismissed such ridiculous notions,” he said. “I have contributed to this City many years of my life and plan to continue. For me, the City of Miami is not a stepping stone. It’s the only place I have ever held office and after my next four years, I’ll retire — my commitment to the City and its people will have been fulfilled. I believe that I have kept my promises to the voters.”

What are some of things he hopes to do should he be re-elected on November 5th?

“We have already passed the budget and it’s a good one,” he said. “We had a property tax reduction which helped and with the assistance of a three-year grant from the Department of Justice, there will soon be 30 more officers patrolling the streets in every district — that’s the big news.”

A few days ago, Regalado was in Liberty City visiting the staff of Curley’s House and talking to citizens who were standing in long lines waiting for food. He says it wasn’t just a photo op for him.

“I was there to participate in the food distribution and to show my commitment to Curley’s House,” he said. “The federal government may be closed but thank goodness Curley’s House is open. I’m looking for additional funds from our budget to support the amazing work they do and I’ll also be redirecting some of the money from my campaign to them.”

Back to the election, he believes that voters need to be aware of whose running and the various referendums that are on the ballot.

“We have an important race in district 5 and a countywide question on Jackson so this is an important election,” he said. “I’m not looking for a free ride. I think it’s my job to get people to go out and vote.”