Daisy Black, a former El Portal mayor who was Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson’s lone challenger in the District 3 race, died Wednesday after collapsing during a candidate forum with local labor unions, according to multiple people close to Black, including the head of Miami-Dade Democratic Party.
“Today the candle went out on the life of a woman that has inspired myself and countless others. Mayor Daisy Black was an incredible leader and fixture in the Democratic Party,” State Sen. Dwight Bullard, chairman of the county Democratic Party, posted on his Facebook page. “She made Miami-Dade County a better place to live by her mere presence and will be so missed by me and those who were blessed to know her.”
Friends who gathered at Hialeah Hospital Wednesday afternoon were told of her death, Edmonson said, but the hospital declined to comment on Black’s condition Wednesday night.
Today the candle went out on the life of a woman that has inspired myself and countless others.
State Sen. Dwight Bullard, chairman of the county Democratic Party
The 68-year-old was finishing up her appearance before a panel of interviews for the AFL-CIO’s high-stakes candidate screening on Wednesday when she collapsed around 11 a.m. , according to multiple accounts from the event. A senior member of the firefighter’s union performed CPR on Black until paramedics arrived.
Her reported death would make Edmonson the fourth of seven commissioners to enter the Aug. 30 county primary with no opponent. Black and Edmonson were foes from their time on the El Portal city council, and their match-up in the District 3 contest revived the rivalry. Though Edmonson held a significant advantage in fund-raising, Black reported more than $10,000 raised for her campaign account in the last report. That made her the second-most successful commission challenger on the fund-raising front, behind former commissioner Joe Martinez, who is challenging Juan C. Zapata in District 11.
Edmonson issued a statement early Wednesday afternoon praising Black as both a “worthy opponent” and “an engaged and committed activist and a member of a generation that believes public service is still worthwhile and continues to fight tirelessly for the betterment of our community.”
Later in the day, the AFL-CIO announced it was endorsing three incumbent commissioners: including Edmonson.
Black started out as an emergency dispatcher for the city of Miami before entering politics in El Portal. Her campaign biography calls her the first African-American elected to the El Portal city council, as well as the city’s first African-American mayor. She lost a reelection bid two years ago to the current mayor, Claudia Cubillos.
She was born the fifth of 11 siblings, at Christian Hospital in Overtown, according to the biography. Her mother died when Black was 11, and she and seven siblings went to live with “Grandmother Daisy.” Black credited her grandmother for a strong work ethic. She worked as a fire and police dispatcher for Miami, joining the force in 1971. In 1981, she transferred to the department’s Community Relations department, which had Black involved in various crime-prevention and youth-empowerment projects.
In a December interview after she filed her papers to challenge Edmonson, Black said she did not plan to critique her old nemesis.
“She has a good record, I’m sure,” Black said. “I’m not going to say anything negative about her…I've got the experience. I've got the knowledge. I’m very good at making decisions that are good for the community.”