North Miami - NMB

After three failed mayoral runs, former North Miami official will seek council seat

Former North Miami councilman Jean Marcellus is running for a seat in the city’s May election.
Former North Miami councilman Jean Marcellus is running for a seat in the city’s May election.

After three unsuccessful runs for mayor, Jean Marcellus is taking aim at his old North Miami City Council seat.

Marcellus filed for the council seat in District 3, currently held by Councilman Philippe Bien-Aime. Marcellus served in that seat from 2009 to 2013.

He attempted to run for mayor in 2013 but finished in fifth place. After Mayor Lucie Tondreau was removed from office in 2014, following her arrest for her role in a mortgage fraud scheme, he competed in the special election to complete her term and finished in third place behind former mayor Kevin Burns and current mayor Smith Joseph.

Most recently, he filed to run for mayor in 2015 but was disqualified after writing a bad check. Later that year he was fined $6,800 by the state elections commission for authorizing campaign spending during his 2013 mayoral campaign despite having insufficient funds.

Marcellus told the commission’s investigators that he thought he had enough money in the account to cover the spending and said the shortfall was caused by bounced checks from campaign contributors. The commission found 34 instances where Marcellus approved spending without sufficient funds.

He said those financial issues and the cost of running for mayor convinced him to try and win his old seat.

“People in the community told me that it’s more difficult to run for the mayor’s seat. They said run for District 3 because we need better representation on the council,” Marcellus said.

Bien-Aime now faces two opponents for his council seat: Marcellus and political newcomer Wancito Francius. The incumbent has raised about $20,000 in campaign contributions after filing for reelection in November 2015. Francius has raised $5,900.

The mayoral seat and the District 2 council seat are also up for grabs but the incumbent council member, Carol Keys, and the mayor currently have no opponents.

North Miami’s election is set for May 9 and residents can register to vote until April 10. The candidate qualifying period runs March 27 through April 4. Runoff elections are set for June 6.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3