Miami-Dade appoints Luis Montaldo to succeed beloved Clerk of Courts Harvey Ruvin
Late Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts Harvey Ruvin and Luis Montaldo, his preferred successor. Image via Luis Montaldo.

Harvey Ruvin Luis Montaldo image via Luis Mondaldo
‘Harvey is irreplaceable. It is our responsibility to carry on his legacy, (and it) is my honor to succeed him as Clerk of the Courts.’

Three days after the death of Clerk of Courts Harvey Ruvin, the longest-serving elected official in Miami-Dade, the county has named his interim successor.

On Monday, Chief Judge Nushin Sayfie appointed Luis Montaldo, the longtime General Counsel for the Clerk’s Office, to replace Ruvin as interim Clerk.

A friend of Ruvin’s family told Florida Politics that Montaldo was Ruvin’s preferred successor. He will serve in the role and oversee more than 1,100 workers in the office through the 2024 election unless Gov. Ron DeSantis decides to appoint someone else.

“Today is bittersweet,” Montaldo said in a statement. “I mourn the loss of my friend Harvey Ruvin, who served the public with integrity, passion and care for 54 years, including his last 30 as Clerk of the Courts. Harvey is irreplaceable. It is our responsibility to carry on his legacy, (and it) is my honor to succeed him as Clerk of the Courts.”

Known for deftness and dedication in his work and devotion to environmental sustainability, Ruvin left an indelible mark on Miami-Dade over more than half a century of public service.

A lawyer by training, he specialized in environmental law before seeking elected office. He served as Mayor of North Bay Village for four years until 1972, when he won a seat on the Miami-Dade Commission. He held the seat for two decades and was the principal sponsor of many environmental initiatives that then were groundbreaking but are commonplace today.

While on the Commission, he backed ordinances creating Miami-Dade’s residential and commercial recycling system, efforts to curb greenhouse gases that through 2021 have offset 40 million-plus metric tons of carbon emissions, and an endangered land preservation program that, at the time of its creation, was the largest of its kind in the country.

In 1990, he was a founding member of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. Eighteen years later, he produced a rap song, “Maybe Just Maybe,” calling attention to climate change.

More recently, he led the county’s Sea Level Rise Task Force.

In 1992, Ruvin won election to the Clerk’s Office, a position he kept for seven consecutive terms. He won re-election in 2020 with more than 73% of the vote — the largest percentage of any nonjudicial candidate for countywide office.

Ruvin, who never ran for office outside of Miami-Dade, was known for his deftness and dedication to the job, which he held under both Republican and Democratic administrations. He was also known for remaining largely apolitical, telling Miami Today in March 2021 that as the custodian of all the county’s records, it is vital for the Clerk’s office to be neutral.

“So, I try to stay away from politics,” he said. “The one exception is, I remain active on environmental and climate change issues. I just have so much of my life invested in that.”

Over the course of his career, he made a few exceptions, including in 2018, when he successfully worked to restore voting rights to former felons under Amendment 4, a voter referendum to which Republican lawmakers later added hurdles.

(L-R) Late Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts Harvey Ruvin and Luis Montaldo, his preferred successor. Image via Luis Montaldo.

Under Ruvin’s guidance, the Clerk’s Office was a trailblazer for accessible documentation. In the mid-1990s, he oversaw the implementation of a system that helped state and local attorneys get files faster before digitization was commonplace. He used the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to further streamline and ease access to documents for the public and lawyers.

Judge Sayfie told the Miami Herald that Ruvin “was a model public servant — devoted to the community he served and an exemplary leader to his entire team of clerks.”

“To us here at the courts, he was a faithful and hard-working justice partner and will be sorely missed,” he said.

Ruvin died at 85 on Dec. 31.

With his passing, a “light has been extinguished in our community and beyond,” Democratic Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a statement.

“For decades, he was a fearless leader and a true public servant, embodying the best of government,” she said. “He was one of a kind: caring, visionary and wise. I’m lucky to have known Harvey as a dear friend. He taught me so much about our environment, about good government and about leading a life anchored in service.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez, who served as Mayor before Levine Cava, called Ruvin “a personal friend” and “leader who dedicated decades of public service to our community.”

“His contributions to our community will not be forgotten,” Giménez said.

Many others took to Twitter to express similar sentiments, including Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, who described Ruvin as “the epitome of a dedicated public servant” and “always one of the first to step up for good and righteous causes.”

Montaldo, 49, is a former Assistant State Attorney who has served as Chief General Counsel for the Clerk’s Office since 2005 and was a member of Ruvin’s executive committee. For the last decade, he was in charge of all jury-related operations for the 11th Judicial Circuit.

When Ruvin fell ill, Montaldo appeared in his stead at county events.

“It is my honor to succeed (Ruvin) as Clerk of the Courts,” he said. “I am grateful to Chief Judge Sayfie for appointing me and to all of the staff in the Clerk’s office who have put their trust in me.”

Ruvin is survived by his wife, Risa, sons Zachary and Eric, granddaughter Jessica, sister Marcy, sisters-in-law Linda and Cara, and brother-in-law Jeffrey.

A public funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium.

In lieu of flowers, the Ruvin family asks that donations be made to the Harvey Ruvin Memorial Fund, which supports causes important to him. Donations can be given online, and checks can be made payable to the nonprofit Miami Foundation with a memo referencing “Harvey Ruvin Memorial Fund.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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