Miami Herald | By Sommer Brugal | February 23, 2022
The United Teachers of Dade members overwhelmingly voted Wednesday night to keep current union leadership in place for another three years.
Incumbents Karla Hernandez-Mats, Antonio White and Mindy Grimes-Festge, who all ran in the Frontline caucus, were reelected for the third time to their positions of UTD president, vice president and secretary treasurer, respectively. They were reelected for a second term in 2019.
Overall, 5,979 ballots were counted in the in-house election, which account for about 43% of UTD’s 14,000 members.
About 63%, or 3,808 of the votes for president, were cast for incumbent Hernandez-Mats, who was challenged by Alexandria Martin of the new People Over Politics caucus. Martin earned about 32%, or 1,888 votes. Joseph Howard, who ran as an independent, had less than 5% of the votes, with 289 ballots cast.
“I’m grateful and humbled,” Hernandez-Mats told the Herald after the votes were finalized. The win is “a testament that the members value the work we’re doing and see the effort the team is putting in. It’s amazing.”
White beat out People Over Politics’ Richard Ocampo for the first vice president position and Grimes-Festge won over Katherine Prelaz, also of the People Over Politics caucus.
The outcome carried throughout the election, too. Frontline candidates took all positions on the ballot.
REFERENDUM, TRACK RECORD SECURE REELECTION
Hernandez-Mats attributed much of Wednesday’s outcome to the 2018 voter-approved tax referendum. The four-year tax hike, which is up this year, brought in more than $230 million annually and helped secure teacher supplemental pay.
With the referendum up for renewal this year, members understand that the current leadership has the experience and knows what it takes to lead the district through another successful campaign, she said. Moreover, she added, current leadership has advocated to keep healthcare premiums frozen and removed the union from debt.
With three more years of leadership ahead of her, Hernandez-Mats is looking forward to campaigning and securing another tax referendum for teacher pay and working with new Superintendent José Dotres.
“I think people understand that we’ve been working really hard on their behalf,” Hernandez-Mats said.