Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Miami Gardens council candidates hit campaign trail for runoff

Miami Gardens voters will head back to the polls for a runoff election in November to determine who will hold an at-large City Council seat.

Residents will choose between Councilman Erhabor Ighodaro, who has served on the council since 2012, and Andre Williams, a former councilman who served for six years on the dais. In last week’s race for Seat 6, Williams earned 40 percent of the votes while Ighodaro received 37 percent. Since no candidate received the more than 50 percent of the votes needed to win, a runoff election will take place Nov. 4.

Ighodaro is the incumbent, but said he feels fortunate to be in the runoff considering Williams’ experience in the city.

“I’m the underdog so to speak,” Ighodaro said.

He said he does not feel intimidated but instead thinks the support he’s received is a sign that the community wants something new.

“I think as a natural consequence people want something new and would naturally be inclined to give me a chance as opposed to a 10-year politician running from one office to another,” Ighodaro said.

Williams ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2012 and said he’s learned from that experience and from observing the City Council operate in the past two years. He thinks issues like job creation and crime reduction remain as relevant as they were when he was a council member.

“The time off reinforced to me how important it is to address those quality of life issues,” Williams said. “I’m going to continue to talk about creating jobs, reducing crime and working with our schools.”

Ighodaro, a teacher at Norland Middle School and adjunct professor at Florida Memorial University, believes the city’s approach to crime reduction should come primarily through partnering with schools. He said his years as an educator give him a unique perspective.

“When you talk about education and the problems our kids face, it starts in the classroom,” Ighodaro said. “I could be in the private sector, but this is where my passion is.”

Both candidates agree that residents have to be engaged in the process. Of the 62,000 registered voters in the city, about 18 percent voted in the primary election.

“The only way we can really problem solve is having our residents fully participate in the voting process,” Williams said.

The runoff election will take place Nov. 4. Residents must be registered to vote by Oct. 6 and early voting will take place from Oct. 20 to Nov. 2.