Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Three incumbents keep seats, another race heads for runoff in Miami Gardens

The Miami Gardens City Council will be filled with familiar faces as three incumbents held onto their seats. Another race is headed to a runoff between current and former council members, based on unofficial election results late Tuesday.

With every precinct reporting, Mayor Oliver Gilbert, Councilwoman Lillie Odom and Councilman Rodney Harris all had comfortable leads in their races for mayor and council seats 1 and 3.

In the seat 5 race, former councilman Andre Williams and incumbent councilman David Williams Jr. are headed for a runoff as neither secured more than 50 percent of the vote.

In the mayoral race, Gilbert got about 69 percent of the vote while former councilman Ulysses Harvard and political newcomer Clara Johnson had about 18 percent and 13 percent respectively. Gilbert will keep his mayoral seat after raising much more than his two components combined — about $150,000 in campaign contributions. That greatly eclipsed the $6,559 raised by Harvard through July and the $945 raised by Johnson.

For seat 5, Andre Williams received about 37 percent of the vote while incumbent councilman David Williams Jr. got about 28 percent. Kevin Brown, a youth advisory board member, got about 25 percent while Raymond Carvil, a former Miami police officer, finished in fourth place with about 10 percent of the vote.

The seat 5 race contained some notable fundraising from the two leading candidates as Williams Jr. raised about $39,000 through August. Williams outraised him with a war chest of about $52,500, although that sum included about $34,500 in self loans. Carvil raised about $21,500 and Brown received about $2,700 in donations.

In the race for seat 1, Odom got about 57 percent of the vote while Nathaniel Miller, a townhome association president, got about 43 percent of the vote. Odom outraised Miller by nearly $8,000 in campaign contributions.

Harris comfortably held on to seat 3 with about 88 percent of the vote while U.S. Postal Service employee John Zeigler received about 12 percent. Neither candidate quite matched the fundraising in other races as Harris received about $5,200 in campaign contributions, and Zeigler raised about $4,000.

Voters also approved a city charter change that will allow Miami Gardens and the Miami-Dade County Commission to share power over building and zoning at Hard Rock Stadium and the surrounding areas.

The mayoral race would have included a fourth candidate, former Opa-locka police chief James Wright, but he was disqualified in June. His lawsuit claiming that he was wrongfully disqualified was unsuccessful on the county level. The Florida Third District Court of Appeal affirmed that decision, but said that the state Supreme Court should consider the state law that led to his disqualification. As of Tuesday night the Supreme Court was looking at the case but had not issued a ruling.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3