North Miami voters will have to wait until November to determine who will replace suspended mayor Lucie Tondreau.
With results from 20 of 21 precincts, the mayoral race was headed to a runoff on Nov. 4 because no candidate received the 50 percent plus one of the vote they needed to win outright, according to unofficial results.
The runoff pits former Mayor Kevin Burns against physician Smith Joseph. Late Tuesday night, Burns was leading with 45 percent of the vote while Joseph had 38 percent.
Jean Marcellus, a former City Council member, was running third with 17 percent of the vote.
The campaign season was civil, with voters mainly concerned about how the candidates would handle the city’s financial issues, deal with code-compliance problems and improve North Miami’s image. The three men were all candidates in the 2013 election as well. Burns lost to Tondreau in a runoff, while Joseph finished third and Marcellus came in fifth.
Burns focused his campaign on his experience and being able to step in and address the city’s problems right away. Joseph, who has never held public office, touted his experience as a community leader and job creator.
At the polls, supporters of all three candidates were out in full force, especially at the Sunkist Grove Community Center, where volunteers shouted their support into megaphones as voters approached the building.
Guz Sorzano, 72, said he supported Burns in this year’s election after voting for Tondreau in last year’s runoff election. He said he was not concerned about much in the city other than public corruption.
Tondreau awaits trial on federal mortgage-fraud charges, and was suspended from office by Gov. Rick Scott.
“Hopefully we’ll get the city back on track,” Sorzano said.
Dana Almond, 42, who lives near the Keystone Point area, said she supported Burns for the same reason, and she hopes to have her neighborhood represented more in the city.
“I don’t know if what I just did helped, but it’s a start,” Almond said.
Others like Marlene Eustache, 54, a resident of the city’s west side, gave their support to Joseph.
“Between Kevin [Burns] and Marcellus, he’s the best when it comes to education and everything else,” Eustache said.