In this undated image from a video ad, Freddy Ramirez announces his bid to be Miami-Dade's first elected sheriff in decades. A change to the state constitution required the partisan office to be re-instated, but the duties are still uncluear. Ramirez is running as a Democrat. (KBI via Ramirez campaign)
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Miami-Dade will get its first elected sheriff in decades and the first big-name candidate to throw a hat into the ring is no surprise: current Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez III.

Ramirez, 52, had teased his announcement for months. He will be running as a Democrat at a time when Republicans have made great inroads in local and state midterm elections.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez appointed Ramirez in 2020 to run the 4,700 employee department. It is the largest police department in the southeastern United States and the eighth largest in the country.,

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Gimenez’s successor – current Mayor Daniella Levine Cava – also named Ramirez the chief of public safety, a position that oversees Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.

“I am a product of our community in every way,”  Ramirez said in a video statement in English and Spanish. “And while we must do more so every family feels safe, I am proud to lead a department that has brought Miami-Dade one of the lowest crime rates in the nation.”

Ramirez is a 30-year veteran who has worked his way up from beat cop to his current position. 

The Miami Herald previously reported how Ramirez switched from Republican to No Party Affiliation (NPA) in 2022 and then to Democrat in January.

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Christian Ulvert will run Ramirez’s campaign. He is also Levine Cava’s campaign manager for her 2024 reelection bid.

When asked why Ramirez switched to Democrat, Ulvert said he couldn’t speak for the candidate but that the change in party reflected the candidate’s values.

Two other men have filed papers to run. Funeral director Rickey Mitchell, is also running as a Democrat. On the Republican side, Ruamen de la Rua, a former Marion County sheriff’s deputy and Miami police department officer has also entered the race.  

Unlike other municipalities, the sheriff in the county became an appointed position following scandals in the 1960s. In 2018, Florida voters passed an amendment that mandated every county have an  elected independent sheriffs. 

This is the first election since, and it will be the only countywide office that will be partisan. The county mayor, state attorney, clerk, and tax assessor as well as all county commissioners and school board members are elected on a non-partisan basis, although office seekers typically align with the major parties.

Last fall, the Florida Sheriff’s Association sued Miami-Dade after the commission voted to keep most of the police force under the mayor’s authority. A judge in February tossed out the suit, saying that it was premature before the 2024 election.

Gun violence and police accountability seems to be the platform Ramirez will run upon. His campaign touted his work on Operation Community Shield which helped get more than 2,500 guns off the street.

“Keeping our neighborhoods safe and having the trust of our community is deeply personal for me,” Ramirez said in his video.

JOHN PACENTI is the executive editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.

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JOHN PACENTI is the executive editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.