More than 1,800 Homestead voters reelected two incumbents Tuesday night after a sluggish day at the polls.
Councilwoman Patricia Fairclough won the vice mayor’s seat. She was also reelected for Council Seat 6 during the primary elections. She will fulfill both roles (the vice mayor’s seat does not come with a district). She beat newcomer Lawrence Meno Jr.
Incumbent Jon Burgess was reelected to a four-year term for Council Seat 2, representing the Keys Gate District. He also beat newcomer Meno.
According to the city charter, anyone who is on the ballot can run for vice mayor, in addition to a council seat. The vice mayor seat comes with a two-year term, but it does not have a district attached to it.
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“I’m just so grateful. It’s a lot to take in,” Fairclough said. “All I wanted to do is to serve this community, and I think the community believed that I genuinely wanted to serve this community. It means the world to me. Tonight, I’m going to relish it all. Tomorrow, confetti will fall, but the next day it’s back to work.”
Burgess celebrated his victory at Portofino Coal Fired Pizza in Homestead. “I feel like the people have spoken. They believe in what I’ve been doing and believe in my vision to move forward.”
Said Meno: “It was a long, hard campaign. I look forward to being a part of the challenges that Homestead faces in the future.”
Voter turnout was at a minimum. The bulk of the votes stemmed from absentee ballots; both prevailing candidates won 75 percent or more of the absentee and regular votes.
At several of the 13 precincts, Fairclough volunteers rented vans to bring residents who didn’t have transportation to the polling places.
“Most of these people of our Haitian community here in Homestead want to vote and have no transportation or just don’t care to vote,” said Pierre Clark, 45, a volunteer with the Fairclough campaign and a member of the Haitian community. “Since we have relationships with them, whether they call us or we call them, we pick them up if they don’t have a ride.”
Fairclough said she was happy to see the “community come together.”
“I have a longstanding relationship with the Haitian community. They are like my voice,” she said. “I’m hoping to see what we can do to reverse voter apathy.”
Burgess blamed Tuesday’s apathy on Homestead’s traffic and lack of public transit.
“At 5:15 a.m., you already have people lining up to get on the Turnpike,” he said. “Some people have two-and-a-half-hour commutes. How can you blame them? That’s why they’re out of touch. Who’s gonna want to come out and vote after sitting in traffic so long?”
Burgess was first elected in 2007 to a two-year term as vice mayor and a four-year term to represent Council Seat 2. He was reelected as vice mayor again from 2011 to 2013 and another four-year term representing Council Seat 2.
Burgess has been vocal about revitalizing the city’s downtown area and bringing more public transportation options into South Dade.
Fairclough, who was elected to the council in 2011, has run on a platform of bettering the schools in Homestead . She also has advocated for more student participation and involvement at local high schools.
According to campaign finance reports, as of Friday Meno had raised about $6,600, Burgess raised about $41,000 and Fairclough raised about $59,000.
Larry Meno Jr.
Councilmember Seat 2
Jon A. Burgess
Larry Meno Jr.