Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Voters reelect Miami Gardens councilman in runoff

David Williams Jr. (right) was reelected to Miami Gardens City Council Seat 5 in Tuesday’s runoff election, defeating Andre Williams (left).
David Williams Jr. (right) was reelected to Miami Gardens City Council Seat 5 in Tuesday’s runoff election, defeating Andre Williams (left).

Miami Gardens will keep a familiar City Council after Councilman David Williams Jr. was reelected Tuesday in a runoff for his at-large seat.

Williams Jr. held on to seat 5 after finishing in second place in the August general election against his opponent, former councilman Andre Williams. The two men are not related.

The incumbent received about 55 percent over Williams who earned about 45 percent of the vote. About 60 percent of the city’s registered voters participated in the runoff election. He thinks that people might have gotten him and his opponent confused in the August general election because of their last names and that he took extra steps to put his face on all his campaign posters and information.

“When citizens really looked at this race, they saw a distinct difference in the two of us,” Williams Jr. said.

As he prepares for four more years on the dais he said his focus will remain on economic development and also pushing the science and health initiatives he’s started like the city’s science fair and the creation of botanical gardens.

“I think that voters saw that the city had changed and that Miami Gardens is on the cusp of being a great city so why change that?” Williams Jr. said.

For Williams, it will be his third loss in as many election cycles after an unsuccessful campaign for mayor in 2012 and for a City Council seat in 2014. He previously served as a council member from 2006 to 2012.

While the City Council continues to work on citywide development and projects like the coming Topgolf facility they have also faced questions about the $60 million general obligation bond that residents approved in 2014 for parks and police technology. Some projects, like the Bunche Park Pool renovation, are closer to getting under construction but many are still stagnant.

“People need to understand that just because you pass a bond, buildings don’t just show up,” Williams Jr. said.

The council will be familiar because Mayor Oliver Gilbert, Councilwoman Lillie Odom and Councilman Rodney Harris were re-elected in the August primary.

However, Miami Gardens voters have one more election to prepare for: A state Supreme Court ruling has caused a re-do of the mayoral election. That election is set for Dec. 6 and will include Gilbert, former councilman Ulysses Harvard, political newcomer Clara Johnson and former Opa-locka police chief James Wright.

The court’s ruling came after Wright challenged his disqualification from the August election after the check he used to pay his qualifying fee was returned by Wells Fargo because of a bank error. His lawsuit against the city and the city clerk made its way through the court system before being decided by the state’s highest court.

The December election will cost the city about $200,000.

If a runoff is needed, it will be held Dec. 20.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3