“Everybody’s kind of stuck in the same boat. It really doesn’t help one candidate or the other,” Moreno said.
Dunn, 52, is married and the father of two. He is also the senior pastor at Faith Community Baptist Church in North Central Dade, and the most politically experienced of the group. He’s been saddled with financial troubles for decades.
Dunn was first appointed as a Miami commissioner in 1998 after Miller Dawkins was arrested. Dawkins was jailed for two years in 1997 after pleading guilty to accepting a $100,000 bribe as part of the city’s infamous Operation Greenpalm scandal.
More than a decade later, commissioners again chose Dunn to fill a vacant seat, this time when Spence-Jones was suspended by the governor for almost two years. Over those 21 months, Dunn won a special election for the seat, helped cut city pensions that led to balanced budgets, and created a teen curfew during an explosive time in Overtown and Liberty City.
After a seven-month period that saw Miami police shoot and kill seven black men, beginning in the summer of 2011, Dunn successfully fought to oust Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito, whose job was in jeopardy while he fought with the mayor over a video-gaming ordinance and who tried to explain the shootings.
“This is not my first time at-bat, I’ve served before. There is no substitute for experience,” he said.
Financial issues have dogged Dunn for decades. In the early 1990s while at Drake Memorial Baptist Church, Dunn’s grandfather accused him of using church money for personal expenses. He eventually paid the church back. Public records show that his wife Daphne filed for bankruptcy in January 2012, and the case was cleared in November. County records show the couple owe $1,214.88 in back property taxes from 2012. The county has offered a certificate, which means anyone purchasing the debt has the right to foreclose on the home after three years. The couple could pay the debt off before then.
Dunn couldn’t be reached for comment late last week.
City records show Dunn has raised $20,865 through September, though he said he expects to collect almost $200,000.
Hardemon, youngest of the group at 30, and the nephew of longtime Liberty City politicos Billy and Barbara Hardemon, has toned down his rhetoric from last summer’s failed run at Audrey Edmonson’s county commission seat. He did well, receiving 20,000 votes.
An assistant county public defender, Hardemon lists paying taxes, obeying the law and protecting the U.S. Constitution among his civic duties. He has the support of Spence-Jones and the city’s fire union.
The Miami Northwestern Senior High and University of Miami law school graduate has hammered away at his local ties. At one point during a debate two weeks ago, he pointed to his mother in the audience, a Desert Storm veteran and Miami police officer.
“I was born and raised in Liberty City to a poor family, in public housing,” Hardemon told the crowd. Playing to the Upper Eastside crowd, he said he’d like to ease the city’s permitting process, and increase private/public partnerships to create more development.
He said shoddy 79th Street could use a makeover: “The only time you see 79th Street bustling is when you watch the movies.”
By the end of September, Hardemon had raised $51,404.