State Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera said he was prompted to run after property appraiser Pedro Garcia told the city of Miami it might have to pay property taxes on parking garages at the new Marlins ballpark.
By Patricia Mazzei
Lopez-Cantera, the outgoing House Republican leader from Miami, said hadn’t thought about seeking the job until Garcia was thrust into the spotlight last fall, when he told the city of Miami it might have to pay property taxes on its parking garages at the new Marlins ballpark.
“I didn’t go into this session or legislative term thinking about running for property appraiser,” said the term-limited Lopez-Cantera, 38, who works in his family’s real-estate development business. “But it became clear to me that the decisions made by this office will be very important in the future.”
For his part, Garcia, 74, noted his decades of experience as a Realtor and former appointed magistrate to the county’s Value Adjustment Board.
“This is not a political position — this is a professional position,” he said. “I am not someone who is improvising. He would be improvising.”
In his campaign announcement, Lopez-Cantera mentioned a string of property-tax laws he sponsored in his eight years in the House.
Most recent was his push behind the scenes to exempt Miami from having to pay taxes on the Marlins garages by tweaking state law.
The city had assumed it would be exempt from any taxes. But Garcia, citing state law, warned city officials they might be on the hook, since the deal between the city, county and Marlins specifically protected the ballclub from paying any future taxes.
In the end, Miami-Dade lawmakers — Lopez-Cantera heads the county’s delegation — amended state law to protect the city, despite a House staff analysis suggesting the change could be unconstitutional.
Last month, wealthy auto magnate and civic activist Norman Braman, who led last year’s recall of County Mayor Carlos Alvarez, said he would back Lopez-Cantera in a potential property appraiser’s race.
A third candidate, Ernesto Castellanos, has also filed to run in the contest, though he has raised less than $2,000. Garcia has raised $55,395.
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