Judge to hear evidence in fight over North Miami mayoral election

08/02/2013 3:07 PM

08/02/2013 4:11 PM

A Miami-Dade judge will hear evidence in a lawsuit that claims North Miami’s mayor did not live in the city while running for office and therefore should be ousted.

Former North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns believes the city’s current mayor Lucie Tondreau should be removed from office because, he said, Tondreau did not actually live in the city for a full year prior to running for office as required by city rules.

Burns lost to Tondreau in the June runoff election. Tondreau has maintained that she met all requirements to run for office.

On Friday morning, Burns asked Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jorge Cueto to grant summary judgment.

Burns said Tondreau submitted insufficient documentation to prove that she continuously resided in North Miami for one year prior to the election qualifying date.

Cueto said he would give both sides an opportunity to present their case before making his decision.

“I’m very mindful of the importance of elections. Trust me I know.” said Cueto, who recently ruled Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones was ineligible to seek a third term in office. Spence- Jones sat out much of her second term fighting state felony charges. His ruling was upheld in an appeals court.

In Burns’ lawsuit, he challenges the validity of a lease presented to the city by Tondreau as well as other documentation he says does not establish the one year residency requirement.

Tondreau, who did not attend Friday’s hearing because she is on vacation in Haiti, was represented by Benedict Kuehne

Kuehne said Burns knew about “this bogus accusation of non-residency” during the campaign and did nothing. He said Burns is suing because he lost.

“What we’re going to establish in this case is that Burns knew, the plaintiff knew, that based on the demographics of North Miami he had a chance to make a seat at the runoff election, but he had no chance to win in the election, ” Kuehne said.

Burns’ attorney, Joseph Klock, argued regardless of when Burns found out about the residency issue, he is within his right to challenge Tondreau’s eligibility.

“Ms. Tondreau, who is the mother of a minor child, supposedly was residing in the third bedroom of a residence somewhere in North Miami while her child was living somewhere else,” Klock said.

Both sides will present their case to Cueto at another hearing on Sept. 9.

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