Central to the two women’s debate: An argument by Gibson that Jordan has hindered the district from growing, and that the commissioner publicly warned at the time incorporating Miami Gardens was a poor idea.
Jordan has since admitted the move worked out for the best. But a decade ago, Jordan warned repeatedly that the city would be a drain on county services and that taxes would have to rise in order to support the new municipality.
“I was an assistant city manager when they incorporated,” Jordan told The Herald’s editorial board last week. “My concern was that they were not being told the truth about a tax increase. They had a $7.5 million deficit when they incorporated. That never came out in the community.”
Still, Gibson and former County Commissioner Betty Ferguson moved forward, firm in their belief that a municipal government could better serve the community and enable residents to feel ownership. Now Gibson boasts of a balanced budget, a highly respected police department, cleaner streets, cleared sewers, and the opening of new businesses like Walmart and a Mercedes Benz dealership.
Though overall crime in Miami Gardens has fallen by a third since Gibson became mayor in 2003, violent crime, especially murder, is on the rise, and there are large pockets of neglect.
The 60,000 registered voters in the city make up about half the voting in District 1.
State Sen. Oscar Braynon II, a former Miami Gardens city council member, called the difference between Miami Gardens now and a decade ago “night and day.”
“The parks look completely different. Now you actually have to drive the speed limit through Miami Gardens, and there’s a sense of community from one end to the other,” he said.
Another disagreement between the two main candidates: Gibson said that she attempted for years to get Miami Gardens its fair share of the county’s half-penny sales tax for transit, with little help from Jordan. Jordan, Gibson maintains, wouldn’t help and suggested the city file a lawsuit to try to get the money. Ultimately, the county commission, including Jordan, voted unanimously to give Miami Gardens a yearly cut of the transit tax, which amounted to $10 million the first time the city got the money.
A key issue in the race, as it is in three other county commission races, is Braman’s support of the challenger. Braman is supporting a slate running against the incumbent commission members because of their votes for a property tax-rate hike two years ago and for building the Marlins’ $634 million ballpark.
Braman has contributed $5,000 to Gibson’s campaign, a large chunk of the $20,960 she had collected by the end of July, county records show. Those same records show Jordan had amassed $184,364, a large amount collected from attorneys, real estate concerns and developers. Jones had collected only $8,740, county records show.
At times Jordan has struck out at Braman. She recently bashed him, saying that even though he’s fabulously wealthy, he obtained public redevelopment money for an area on Northeast Second Avenue near Downtown Miami, where he has built auto dealerships, repair shops and a gas station, Gibson has responded by saying Jordan has received thousands of dollars from special interests in the campaign.
Win or lose on Aug. 14, Gibson will remain Miami Gardens mayor until the Nov. 6 general election. Jordan would also retain her seat until then, should she lose.