Manny Diaz, former Mayor of Miami

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Manny Diaz
Mayor of Miami
By Andrew Stevens, Deputy Editor

28 January 2008: Manny Diaz, a Cuban-born lawyer was first elected in 2001. He was re-elected in 2005 after a successful first term of office. Born in 1954, in Havana, Cuba, Diaz then left for the US in 1961. He attended Belen Jesuit Prep School and continued his education at Miami-Dade Community College, Florida International University (political science) and the University of Miami Law School. The mayor has been short-listed for the 2008 World Mayor Award.

Update November 2009: In November 2009 Manny Diaz did not stand for re-election on account of term limits. More

Like a number of other leading current US mayors, Diaz had never held public office and presented himself as a clean break with the city’s tired politics, which had seen a number of controversies under immediate past mayors Joe Carollo and Xavier Suarez, who were also members of the city’s considerable Cuban-American community.

The second Suarez administration, after his time out of office in the mid-1990s, was terminated by court order in 1998 when it was found that he had been fraudulently elected a year earlier. Miami was also the centre of the 2000 voting abuse allegations in the US presidential election and Suarez later admitted to handling absentee ballots as a member of the Republican Party’s county executive. Diaz came to public prominence as the lawyer representing Florida-based relatives of Elián González, who in 2000 was at the centre of a custody battle between his aunts and his Cuban father that later escalated into tension between Florida Cubans and President Clinton's Attorney General Janet Reno about the boy's future. He was eventually returned to Cuba and re-united with his father.

After his first term, characterised by rapid growth in Miami’s urban development, Diaz was re-elected as an independent in the November 2005 poll, which was delayed due to Hurricane Wilma, with 65% of the vote against radio talk show host Enrique Santos. Diaz has received many plaudits for his business-style leadership and private sector-orientated approach to governing the city, with city hall finances straightened out to A grade standard from virtual bankruptcy in less than three years.

Diaz remains a partner in the legal practice of Diaz & O'Naghten, L.L.P. Mayor Diaz is also an advisory board member for both the Manhattan Institute's Center for Civic Innovation, the University of Pennsylvania's Institute for Urban Research and the Mayors' Institute on City Design. In 2004 he was named Urban Innovator of the Year by the Manhattan Institute. Diaz is 2008/09 President of the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM). He is also an advisory board member for both the Manhattan Institute's Center for Civic Innovation, the University of Pennsylvania's Institute for Urban Research and the Mayors' Institute on City Design

The City of Miami elects the mayor every four years and also five city commissioners, each representing a district. Diaz is married to Robin Smith and has four children and two grandchildren.

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