Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Court-ordered mayoral election in Miami Gardens will cost nearly $200,000

Miami Gardens City Hall
Miami Gardens City Hall ldixon@miamiherald.com

The court-ordered special mayoral election in Miami Gardens will take place in December and cost the city nearly $200,000 that could have paid for three additional city employees.

The city council formally approved the election and the budgeted amount of $199,357 to pay for the Dec. 6 re-do of the race and a potential Dec. 20 runoff election.

In September, the state Supreme Court ruled that candidate James Wright was wrongfully disqualified from the August election and ordered a new election be held. The court’s ruling didn't come in time to make the Nov. 8 ballot so the December date was chosen. The only other scheduled election on that day is a potential Sunny Isles Beach runoff election.

In order to free up the money needed for the new election, the city eliminated three proposed City Council assistant positions that were budgeted at about $228,000.

The election will feature Wright and the three candidates from the Aug. 30 election: Mayor Oliver Gilbert, who won the initial election with about 69 percent of the vote; former city Councilman Ulysses Harvard; and retired AT&T employee Clara Johnson.

The state Supreme Court’s decision came after Wright initially sued Miami Gardens and the city clerk, claiming he was wrongfully disqualified. Wright had written a check to pay his qualifying fee that was returned by Wells Fargo because the account couldn’t be located.

State election law stated that if a check is returned for any reason, the candidate must be notified and given the opportunity to pay with a certified check, but must do so before the qualifying period ends. The Supreme Court, in a 6-1 decision, sided with Wright and called for a new election.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3

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