Two days after arrest, Homestead mayor Steve Bateman is seeking reelection

Homestead’s Steve Bateman faces two felony counts of unlawful compensation.
Homestead’s Steve Bateman faces two felony counts of unlawful compensation.

Just two days after he was arrested on public corruption charges, suspended Homestead Mayor Steve Bateman wants another chance.

He filed Friday afternoon to run for mayor in the November election, according to a city spokeswoman. The deadline to qualify for the election was 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Bateman was suspended from office after he was arrested on Wednesday. He faces charges that he used his elected position to land a secret consulting job with a local non-profit that had business in front of the city. Bateman was originally elected mayor in 2009 and previously served on the City Council.

Running for office while suspended is not unprecedented in Miami-Dade County.

Most recently, Michelle Spence-Jones, who was a city of Miami commissioner, was suspended in 2009 after being charged with grand theft, ran again and was suspended by the Governor on another charge.

In the past, some suspended politicians who have sought to regain their post have run in a special election.

In 1998, James Burke, a county commissioner, was suspended due to a bribery charge. He ran in a special election, but lost.

The most famous case of a suspended official running again was in 1997 after Miami City Commissioner Humberto Hernandez was suspended amid mortgage fraud charges. He ran in a special election and won. At the time, Gov. Lawton Chiles refused to block his reelection, essentially saying that the voters knew who they were voting for. He was suspended again a year later after being charged with voter fraud.

He was suspended a year later after being charged with voter fraud.

Also running for mayor: former councilman Jeff Porter; former Homestead Mayor Lynda Bell’s husband, Mark Bell; and the Rev. Joseph Sewell.

Not running: Current Vice Mayor Jon Burgess, who is leading the City Council in Bateman’s absence. He told the Miami Herald on Friday that he will not run for the position.

Though the city’s charter allows Burgess to fill the mayor’s seat temporarily until the next election, he wrote in an email to his fellow council members that he would prefer that the council appoint a citizen to the post.

“In light of recent events, I strongly feel that I can better serve the residents of Homestead by dedicating all of my energy and efforts to helping guide the City through this difficult time,” he wrote.

Follow @Cveiga and @Ben_Brasch on Twitter.

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