Image-conscious city commissioners decided to play it safe. That means the city will go without a mayor until next week at the earliest.

"What we don't want is another headline that says `City running without anybody in charge,' " said Commissioner Tomas Regalado.The commissioners were worried that the judge who voided the city's Nov. 4 mayoral election would give the same treatment to their choice for interim mayor - so they won't rush their decision.

The commission has until March 14 to pick a mayor who would serve through a May 4 special election.

Circuit Judge Thomas Wilson Jr. created the problem by ruling Wednesday that Miami's Little Havana neighborhood was the epicenter of a "well-orchestrated absentee ballot fraud scheme" during the general election.

He ordered a special election based on evidence that included at least one dead voter casting a ballot, forged signatures, stolen ballots and people migrating to the city just to vote.

Incumbent Joe Carollo received the most votes, but he failed to win more than 50 percent of the ballots, forcing a runoff election Nov. 13. Xavier Suarez won the runoff.

Both say they should be mayor until May. The five-member commission knows one of the two will challenge any interim mayor it selects.