A much-anticipated hearing over whether North Miami Mayor Lucie Tondreau could stay in office after an opponent sued to have her removed ended abruptly when the judge said he may not have jurisdiction to hear the case.
But Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jorge Cueto stopped short of dismissing the case in which Kevin Burns, former North Miami mayor, alleges Tondreau failed to meet a one-year residency requirement prior to running for North Miami mayor.
Burns lost to Tondreau in the June runoff election. Tondreau has maintained that she met all requirements to run for office.
Citing a 1981 Florida supreme court ruling, Cueto said he believes he has no jurisdiction in the matter. Cueto said he will give Burns’ legal team until Friday to convince him otherwise — if not, the case will be dismissed.
“If you have allegations of fraud, the only thing you have left to do is to go to the State Attorney’s Office,” Cueto told Burns.
Cueto’s words led the audience of mostly Tondreau supporters to celebrate.
State Rep. Daphne Campbell, a Miami Democrat who supported Tondreau during her run for office, led the crowd in dancing and shouting “Hallelujah.”
Tondreau’s attorney, Benedict Kuehne, said Burns’ lawsuit was improper from the beginning.
“The people of North Miami have spoken resoundingly and this bit of political intrigue is unfair to the community,” he said. “We ask all the people of North Miami to rally around their mayor.”
Burns said he is not giving up and will return Friday with case law that supports his assertion that Cueto does have jurisdiction to hear the case.
“There are other legal remedies,” he said. “For us it’s not over yet.”
Burns said he has already turned over evidence to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust to support his claim that Tondreau was not truthful or omitted information about her actual residence during her campaign for mayor.