MIAMI HERALD: “Miami-Dade commissioner resigning seat in November for 2020 mayor’s race”

Daniella Levine Cava on Friday officially agreed to surrender her County Commission seat later this year to qualify for the Miami-Dade mayoral race in 2020, locking her in as a candidate and possibly setting up an early election to replace her.

Levine Cava’s resignation, effective Nov. 16, wasn’t a surprise, and was required to comply with Florida’s resign-to-run law.

Still, the letter that the two-term commissioner delivered to Miami-Dade Clerk Harvey Ruvin and Elections Director Christina White on Friday ramps up the stakes for Levine Cava as she tries to succeed outgoing mayor Carlos Gimenez.

She’s now the only candidate in the race giving up an office to be on the ballot, leaving commissioners to either call a special election or appoint a replacement to fill her District 8 seat representing South Dade.

Only the odd-numbered commission seats are up for election in presidential years, and that includes the districts represented by mayoral candidates Esteban “Steve” Bovo and Xavier Suarez.

Term limits bar them from running again in 2020, while Levine Cava was free to remain another two years before the county’s two-term limit required her to leave. The fundraising leader in the 2020 race, former county mayor Alex Penelas, has been out of office since 2004.

Jean Monestime was a fourth commissioner running for mayor this year, and his District 2 seat wasn’t up for election until 2022. Rather than resign, he announced late last month he was dropping out of the race.

Levine Cava’s letter of resignation cannot be retracted, forcing her to leave the commission in November.

“In accordance with Section 99.012, Florida Statutes, this correspondence shall serve as my irrevocable resignation as Miami-Dade County Commissioner of District 8, effective November 16, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.,” Levine Cava wrote under her commission office’s letterhead.

Four candidates have already filed to run for Levine Cava’s seat, each registered for the 2022 election.

The 13-seat commission can decide to hold a special election after Levine Cava’s resignation takes effect in November, or they could fill the seat with a replacement to serve until 2022. If a special election is called, the 2022 candidates can shift their campaign dollars to that race.

The District 8 decision promises to be an early high-profile vote for a new county commission.

At least five of the seats — District 1, held by Barbara Jordan; District 3, held by Audrey Edmonson; District 7 held by Suarez; District 9 held by Dennis Moss; and Bovo’s District 13 seat — will be filled by new commissioners, thanks to term-limit rules. Two incumbents, District 5’s Eileen Higgins and District 11’s Joe Martinez, are running for their second consecutive terms this year and face challengers.

Waiting in the wings for a special election are the four existing District 8 candidates: Alicia Arellano, who serves as vice chair of the Hammocks Citizens Advisory Committee; Leonarda Duran Buike, a healthcare professional and president of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Miami-Dade; John DuBois, the vice mayor of Palmetto Bay; and lawyer Danielle Cohen Higgins.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava drops off paperwork at the county Elections Department in late April. On May 8, 2020, she resigned her commission seat, effective Nov. 16, to qualify for the 2020 ballot for county mayor. BY DOUGLAS HANKS DHANKS@MIAMIHERALD.COM

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