Two former councilmen and two political newcomers are trying to defeat two incumbents in Homestead’s Oct. 3 primary election.
Though Mayor Jeffrey Porter and councilman Stephen Shelley were automatically reelected after running unopposed, Homestead residents will still have two council seats on the ballot.
Hoping to keep their positions on the dais are incumbents Jimmie Williams, who is running for Seat No. 4 in the Southwest District, and Elvis Maldonado, who’s running for Seat No. 5 in the Waterstone District.
Running against Williams are two former Homestead councilmen: Norman Hodge Jr., and Melvin McCormick, along with political newcomer Jenifer Bailey. Maldonado will be running against political newbie Maycol Enriquez.
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The general elections will be held on Nov. 7.
Seat No. 4
Williams was first elected to the City Council in 2009 and then reelected in 2013. He serves as a senior pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Miami Gardens.
Earlier this year, Williams — who has sickle cell disease — announced the approval of state funding for a sickle cell disease research clinic expected to open in Homestead and serve patients of South Miami-Dade.
In the last two years, Williams has been accused of having several conflicts of interest while serving on the City Council, including getting special considerations from a car dealer doing business with the city and receiving a six-figure loan from a local developer to open a fish restaurant that failed.
In 2015, the Miami Herald also divulged a series of public records suggesting that Williams does not live in Homestead. Williams was later cleared by the county ethics commission.
When contacted by the Miami Herald for this story, Williams declined to comment.
Norman Hodge Jr.
Hodge served on the City Council from 2003-07. He was born in Homestead, works in the security equipment industry and is an elder at the Church of Christ Written in Heaven in Goulds.
Hodge is passionate about bringing corporate jobs to Homestead to stimulate growth, as well as bringing in more higher-end developments and hiring more police officers.
Hodge says his grandparents’ home — which they built themselves — is located in the southwest district, the region he is running to represent.
“It would be an honor to represent that community,” Hodge said. “Of course I love my entire city, but there is just something special about the area in my heart.”
McCormick was elected to the City Council in 2007 for a four-year term; he ran again in 2009 but lost to incumbent Williams.
Born and raised in Homestead, McCormick works as an officer for the Department of Homeland Security, and is also the CEO for a startup, nonprofit organization that mentors teenage boys and at-risk kids.
McCormick told the Miami Herald his biggest hopes are to attract more small businesses to the area, create more youth programs and allocate funding to purchase body cameras for Homestead police officers.
“It would be a very good thing for our city,” McCormick said. “Not only would it hold the public accountable but also our police officers.”
McCormick also said he would like to offer incentives to small businesses that contract with the city of Homestead.
“I would like to see at least 10 percent of all city contracts go out to small Homestead companies,” he said.
Bailey has worked for 10 years at Smart Start of Homestead, a preschool for children 1 to 5 years old.
Bailey said she is very “pleased with the direction the current City Council has taken with the downtown area’s revitalization.”
Bailey said while she would like to continue on the same track, she would like to explore ways to minimize growing traffic problems and bring in more entertainment venues.
“I know that there are great plans under way but I want to be part of them. At the same time, I would love to work at preserving the character of our small town, which can be a challenge.”
Bailey said she’d also like to implement more permanent summer activities for children and create more summer camps at affordable rates.
Seat No. 5
Maldonado was first elected to the City Council in 2009 and then reelected in 2013.
Maldonado, who owns Laptop Zone, a computer technology company, has long been involved in education. He has worked as an outreach counselor with Aspira South Charter School, Homestead Middle School and Homestead Senior High School.
Born and raised in Homestead, he’s also been a member of the Homestead City Charter Review, was the former chairman of the Community Development District and former president of the homeowners association of his community — Malibu Bay.
When contacted for this story, Maldonado declined several requests for an interview by the Miami Herald.
Last year, the Herald reported that Maldonado used a city-issued vehicle for personal use.
After an eight-month investigation into whether Maldonado used the city car when he played golf, the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics concluded that because the city had no policies or procedures in place for use of the car, it could not prove whether Maldonado drove it to golf resorts or violated any ethics laws.
Political newcomer Maycol Enriquez served on the board at the South-Dade Venture Community Development District, a group that manages roads and infrastructure within the Waterstone District of Homestead.
Enriquez said he believes the city’s infrastructure needs to be prioritized on the city budget, and that his experience managing the Waterstone District, along with his current position as an administrator for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, makes him a good candidate.
“If you go down the road, any road in Homestead, they are in pretty bad shape,” Enriquez said. “Just look at the medians and the landscape. They’re not being maintained.”
Enriquez said he is “not supportive of building a booming downtown” and that “Homestead needs to take a step back.”
“I think it’s a waste of time, thinking that that our downtown is going to be a tourist attraction somehow, kind of like South Beach. It’s really a fantasy and not making for a better community."
Follow Monique O. Madan on Twitter: @MoniqueOMadan