Both candidates for county commissioner in District 7 were in court Monday -- but not in body.
Former State Rep. Julio Robaina and former Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez were each called on the telephone -- and put on speaker -- by Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge William Thomas in the middle of a hearing for a lawsuit filed by a third would-be candidate who was not allowed to qualify and now wants the election stopped.
Ricardo Corona, through his attorneys, says that the qualifying period was too short and voters as well as political novices such as himself were disenfranchised by the commission's decision April 13, in less than three minutes, to end qualifying in 29 hours. While he did get to the elections department by 4:58 p.m. that afternoon, two minutes before the bell, his papers took more than 20 minutes to stamp and he was told he did not qualify.
After a county attorney suggested that the two candidates in the case had not been given sufficient notice to attend the hearing -- in which the judge could cancel the election or, at the very least, supress the results until he was able to make a decision -- Thomas reached them by phone. Robaina said he would have no problem if the judge decided to supress the results of the election until a decision could be made.
"The most important thing to me in any election is that the people have the right to vote, access to vote and that people have every opportunity to run," Robaina said. "I would have no problem if you determine that there would be another candidate or another race or something that would mean this election would be cancelled.
"If there as a wrong here, make it right."
Suarez, for his part, wasn't so sure but uiferred that he agreed with the county's position that the time was sufficient and that indeed Corona had made it on time, but only lacked the right paperwork. Suarez asked the judge if he could confer with his attorney and call back, the judge said he would reconvene at 5 p.m. to hear the candidate's position.
Ladra thinks he just couldn't pass up the chance to be on the news on Election Eve. We will be there, too.