North Miami - NMB

North Miami mayoral candidates preparing for runoff

North Miami voters will have two choices in November to determine who will replace suspended mayor Lucie Tondreau after last week’s primary election ended in a runoff.

Residents will choose between former Mayor Kevin Burns and physician Smith Joseph, because neither one received the more than 50 percent of the vote they needed to win the election outright. Burns led the group with 45 percent of the vote while Joseph finished second with 38 percent.

The two men plan to refocus their efforts as the campaign season goes on for the next few months. Both were candidates in the 2013 election in which Burns lost to Tondreau in a June runoff. Burns said he plans to continue knocking on doors throughout the city and trying to encourage people to participate in the election.

“The message, of cleaning up and ending the corruption, and inclusiveness is resonating,” Burns said. “We’re encouraging people that their vote does matter.”

Joseph said that he’s learned a great deal in the past two campaign seasons and hopes to use that experience to bring more people to his camp.

“I’ve learned not to underestimate your opponent. My opponent is fighting just as hard as I am,” Joseph said.

The candidates will also look to absorb the support that was given to Jean Marcellus, a former City Council member who finished third, with 17 percent of the vote. Joseph hopes to reach out to those communities, especially Haitian-American voters, and show them that his ideas are similar to those of his former opponent.

“I’ve got to show them that I share the same ideas that caused them to vote for Marcellus, maybe I didn’t convey the message clearly,” Joseph said.

In the initial campaign season, voters were mainly concerned about how the candidates would handle the city’s financial issues, its code-compliance problems and its battered image. Both candidates agree that the next mayor will have to immediately address the city’s image and the negative attention it has received in the past.

“Transparency is my mandate, we have to try to get everything out in the open so we don’t have any backdoor deals going on,” Joseph said.

Burns argued that the “scandal-filled headlines” and reports didn’t happen while he was in office and that the city was more unified.

“We’re going to continue to put out the message that we can expect better from local government,” Burns 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.