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Day after Homestead mayor’s arrest, a rally

 

bbrasch@MiamiHerald.com

Samuel Bass, 6, ran up to his father to ask him a question.

“Dad, can I say ‘Hi’ to Steve? He’s here!”

His father obliged, although “Steve” had been released from jail just a day earlier.

About 35 people gathered with campaign signs on Northeast Campbell Drive in front of the Lowe’s, a block or two from City Hall, to rally support for Steve Bateman, the suspended Homestead mayor.

Bateman was arrested Wednesday on two felony corruption counts. He is alleged to have secured a secret side job — paying $125 an hour — lobbying on behalf of a nonprofit that needed favors from the city.

He bonded out hours after the arrest, but was removed from office by Gov. Rick Scott until the criminal case is resolved.

While other politicians might keep a low profile after an arrest, that’s not Bateman’s style. He gave no speech, but waved, shook hands and comforted supporters. He gave no indication, at least publicly, that he would consider not running for reelection while the charges are pending. The vote is in November

Jason Bass, Samuel’s father, is a 37-year-old Homestead businessman who said he has always respected Bateman for being so quick to call him back.

“He makes one … error in judgment and he’s crucified. It’s ridiculous,” Bass said.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and Bateman’s former colleagues on the City Council compiled evidence against him over a lengthy period of time.

Most of those at the rally were there because, they said, Bateman had always treated them well.

“Mayor Bateman has always been straight up with me,” said the Rev. Samuel Sullivan of New Mount Zion in Homestead.

He brought his three children to the event, “to show how due process works.”

His children held eight-foot-high signs supportive of Bateman, and smiled as cars passed by.

“We’re here to support the mayor to get elected,” said Sullivan’s 13-year-old daughter, Deyja.

Many others feel Bateman has done nothing wrong.

“I don’t think he did anything,” said Mia Barreto, 16.

Barreto and her sister, Monique, 14, both said Bateman is like a second father to them.

“He’s done a lot of good for the city, and one mistake shouldn’t ruin his career,” Mia said.

Follow @ben_brasch on Twitter.

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