J.C. Planas launches bid for Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections
Image via Juan-Carlos Planas.

Juan-Carlos Planas
Miami-Dade voters made the job an appointed position in 1957. State electors required it to be voter-chosen by January 2025.

Former state Rep. Juan-Carlos “J.C.” Planas is running to be Miami-Dade’s first voter-chosen Supervisor of Elections in more than half a century.

Planas, a Miami-born ethics and elections lawyer who served from 2002-2010 in the Legislature’s lower chamber, is the third person to file for the job. The county’s currently appointed Supervisor of Elections, Christina White, said she will not seek election next year.

Planas said his goal is to “keep our elections free, fair, and safe,” while “building on (the county’s) legacy, preserving our democracy and making sure voters’ voices are heard.”

“Throughout my career, I have been unwavering in my commitment to upholding the integrity of our electoral system,” he said in a statement Friday.

“With our elections under attack like never before, I am more than ready to bring my fight to the Supervisor of Elections Office — making sure that every resident of our community, who has the lawful right to vote, can exercise that right in an easy and efficient manner, with the confidence that their votes will be counted in the most accurate and transparent way possible.”

Prior to serving in the Legislature, Planas worked as an Assistant State Attorney and served as a board member of the Miami-Dade Children’s Trust, Kiwanis Club of Little Havana and the National Fragile X Foundation. He now works as a professor of election law and state and local government at the St. Thomas University School of Law, his alma mater.

If elected, his plans include “enhancing communication efforts to expand voter participation, making information easily accessible, and encouraging civic engagement among all residents,” a press note from his campaign said.

He’s set to face at least one opponent in the Democratic Primary: Willis Howard, a campaign consultant and former Chief of Staff in North Miami. In a May interview with the Miami Herald, Howard described himself as a “tried-and-true Democrat” who has “never switched” political parties.

That may have been a preemptive knock on Planas, who changed his registration from Republican to Democrat in response to Donald Trump’s attacks on voter rights and lies that the 2020 election was stolen. Planas last month confirmed he was weighing a run for Supervisor of Elections.

On the other side of the aisle is Republican candidate Ruth Swanson, a 2020 election denier who last year mounted an unsuccessful Primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez. Before moving to Miami in 2020, Swanson was an English-language teacher to students in China, where she witnessed the Uyghur genocide, according to a since-deleted interview she gave with conservative podcast Real People USA.

So far, only Howard has reported any fundraising: $6,000, all of it his own money.

Former Democratic state Rep. Joe Geller, an election lawyer too, said he may also run.

Miami-Dade voters abolished several constitutional officers — including Supervisor of Elections, Tax Collector and Property Appraiser — through the 1957 adoption of the county’s Home Rule Charter, which delegated their power to the Miami-Dade’s top executive official, now the county Mayor, who now appoints people to those positions.

But in 2018, Florida voters — including 58% of Miami-Dade voters — approved a constitutional amendment requiring every county in the state to elect those officers, as well as a Sheriff, by Jan. 7, 2025.

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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