Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

A Miami Gardens mayoral candidate is suing to get back into the race

Former Opa-locka police chief James Wright was in the running for Miami Gardens mayor but was disqualified by the city’s clerk last week. He’s filed a lawsuit contesting the decision.
Former Opa-locka police chief James Wright was in the running for Miami Gardens mayor but was disqualified by the city’s clerk last week. He’s filed a lawsuit contesting the decision.

After being disqualified from the Miami Gardens mayoral race, former candidate James Wright is fighting to get back in the race through a lawsuit.

Wright filed a lawsuit against the city and clerk Ronetta Taylor Thursday in Miami-Dade circuit court and is asking a judge to reinstate him for the city’s Aug. 30 election.

“Voters of the city are being prevented from considering [Wright] as a viable candidate for the office of mayor of Miami Gardens based on a technical ‘glitch,’ ” the complaint reads.

Taylor disqualified the former Opa-locka police chief June 20, citing Florida Statute 99.061. She said in a letter that the check Wright used to pay his qualification fee was returned to the city because the bank couldn’t find his campaign’s account number. Taylor said the city was notified about the issue by Wells Fargo on June 16.

“Unfortunately, qualifying ended June 2, 2016, therefore you are hereby disqualified,” Taylor wrote to Wright.

Wright said he was shocked by the city’s decision. He argues that the check he used to qualify was never presented to his bank for payment.

“There is no record of my check being presented for payment against my account,” Wright said.

“The fact is, on June 1, 2016, I presented all of the necessary documents to qualify for mayor including a check for $620 in a timely manner.”

In his complaint Wright also notes that he was never charged fees for insufficient funds or returned items by his bank. He said other checks written on the campaign account had cleared without any issues.

The race for mayor includes two other challengers — political newcomer Clara Johnson and former councilman Ulysses Harvard — and the incumbent mayor, Oliver Gilbert.

Wright was Opa-locka’s top cop from 2005 until he was fired in 2008. He also unsuccessfully competed in 2004 for the County Commission seat currently held by Barbara Jordan.

The Aug. 30 election features three other races for city council seats with a mix of new and familiar faces. Voters have until Aug. 1 to register for the election.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3

  Comments