Early voting starts Monday in North Miami’s mayoral runoff.
The candidates, former mayor Kevin Burns and physician Smith Joseph, have continued to canvass the community, and accusations of tampering with election signs and misconduct by volunteers have joined the discussion of how the two men will address the city’s issues.
Burns and Joseph were the top two finishers of the three candidates in the August primary. Burns, who was mayor from 2005 to 2009, received 45 percent of the vote. Joseph, a political newcomer, finished with 38 percent. Neither candidate received the outright majority needed to avoid the Nov. 4 runoff.
The third candidate, former City Council member Jean Marcellus, was eliminated in the primary.
The primary campaign focused on the city’s Biscayne Landing project, code compliance and financial issues, and improving the city’s image. But recently, Burns has complained about more than 70 of his campaign signs going missing or being damaged.
“I don’t know who’s doing it, but my sign is there damaged and the other candidate’s signs are standing perfectly intact,” Burns said.
Joseph denied that his supporters had damaged the signs, and said Burns was bringing up the issue as a political move.
“He goes and damages his own signs and makes the voters think the other candidates had something to do with it,” Joseph said. “He knows that he’s losing this race, and he’s run out of tactics.”
Signs aside, the two candidates agree that working out the details of the pending sale of part of the Biscayne Landing property will be a priority.
The city is preparing to sell about 50 acres at 151st Street and Biscayne Boulevard, the site of a former landfill, to developer Oleta Partners. The agreement requires the developer to remove about 194,000 cubic feet of fill from the site. The City Council delayed voting on the sale at its meeting Tuesday.
“It has to be wisely addressed. We have to do things to protect the interests of the residents,” Burns said.
Joseph echoed that idea, adding that he would sit down with the city manager to work on the plan as soon as he is elected.
“It has to be a priority, and it is a very important item,” Joseph said.
The two candidates say they also hope to move beyond mistakes made by the city staff and elected officials, corruption and division between North Miami residents.
“When I was mayor, the communities were not perceived to be fighting with each other,” Burns said. “People know me, they trust me and they know I have the experience.”
Joseph said that despite his opponent’s experience, he is prepared to be an advocate for residents.
“As mayor, I will represent everybody who lives in this city and pays taxes,” Joseph said. “We need a mayor who does not have an agenda.”
Early voting will begin Monday and continue until Nov 2. Election Day is Nov. 4.
North Miami mayoral candidates
Occupation: Real estate broker with Turnberry International Realty.
Education: Miami Dade College, associate’s degree in speech communications.
Years lived in North Miami: 19.
Public service: Former North Miami mayor, Knights of Columbus member, North Miami Chamber of Commerce past president.
Education: Miami Dade College, associate’s degree in pre-pharmacy; Florida A&M University, doctorate in pharmacy; Nova Southeastern University, doctor of osteopathic medicine.
Years lived in North Miami: 2.
Public service: Former North Miami Charter Review Board member; former North Miami Education Board member; Association of Haitian Physicians Abroad-South Florida Chapter past president.