As North Miami voters gear up for the May 12 election, all eyes will be on the city’s west side, with the District 4 City Council seat as the only race.
After potential candidates for both the mayor and city clerk positions were taken out of contention, all that remains are the five candidates to replace Councilwoman Marie Steril.
The candidates are Alix Desulme, a former city clerk; Jessica Alston, a retired guidance counselor; Carline Paul, a political consultant; Roseline Philippe, an education professor and consultant; and Beverly Hilton, a private school administrator.
The candidates participated in a forum last month to discuss their views. Since then, some of them have dealt with criticism from employees, residents and from each other.
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Carline Paul has faced questions over her residency in the city and about another property she owns just outside North Miami.
Property records show that she purchased a home at 1348 NE 147th St. in 1988, under the name Carline Jean, and collected two homestead exemptions last year. Paul said that while she did still live there as of January 2014 and qualified for the exemption, she moved last March to the address she used in her filing documents at 12215 NW Miami Ct. The North Miami home is owned by Marie Louisville, and Paul said she lives there as her tenant.
“I decided to move in the city of North Miami because I thought I could make a difference in the lives of residents in District 4,” Paul said.
Meanwhile, Paul has accused opponents Alix Desulme and Roseline Philippe of spreading false information and trying to confuse Haitian-American voters. Residents at last month’s forum questioned Paul about her connection to Noucelie Josna, the self-professed “queen of absentee ballots,” and her alleged involvement in absentee-ballot fraud.
Paul and Josna were part of a civil complaint filed by the late John Patrick Julien in 2012 after he lost the race for House District 107 to Rep. Barbara Watson. Julien eventually dropped the challenge for the seat after a two-month battle in the courts.
Desulme denied Paul’s allegations and said he wanted to focus on his campaign. He said Paul was trying to paint herself as a victim.
“I don’t have the time or the energy for these baseless accusations,” Desulme said. “I have my message, I have my supporters; that’s what I’m focused on.”
Philippe said all she told her volunteers to do was share information about her platform.
“I don’t know what she’s talking about,” Philippe said. “I’ve got too many things to worry about in my campaign to worry about that.”
Beverly Hilton, who ran for the seat in 2011, was recently accused of not paying her staff members at The Challenger School on time. The accusations were first revealed in a WPLG Local 10 story after workers said they hadn’t been paid for three weeks. Hilton said a delay in funding from the Early Learning Coalition and the state were to blame and that she’d thought things would be resolved by May 1.
“Their staff told me they processed our payment,” Hilton said. “Since the 19th of April, I thought we would get our payment.”
Despite the accusations, the candidates all agree that voter turnout is important. With only one wide-open race, they hope residents will still show up to the polls.
“Local elections are vital to our community, even more than national elections,” Hilton said. “They cannot complain if they do not vote.”
Election Day is May 12 and a potential runoff would take place June 2. Early voting continues through May 10.
Here’s a look at the candidates for City Council Seat 4:
Occupation: Retired Miami-Dade Public Schools guidance counselor
Education: City University of New York Queens College, Bachelor’s in education and African studies, Master’s in school and mental health education
Years lived in North Miami: 24 years
Public service : Vice president of Sunkist Grove Neighborhood Association
Occupation: Adjunct professor at St. Thomas and union educational courses, second-grade teacher at Ruth K. Broad Bay Harbor K-8 Center
Education: St. Thomas University Bachelor’s in organizational leadership Master’s in special education; Florida Atlantic University Master’s in education leadership
Years lived in North Miami: 18 years
Public service: North Miami City Clerk, Miami-Dade Democratic Party Committee member; chairperson/founder of Young Minorities in Action; former member of the North Miami Youth Opportunity Board
Occupation: Director/CEO of The Challenger School in North Miami
Education: Queens High School, Jamaica
Years lived in North Miami: 20 years
Public service: Founder of Alhambra Heights Homeowners Association
Occupation: Community outreach liasion at North Miami Adult Education Center
Education: City University of New York Queens College
Years lived in North Miami: 1
Public service: Executive director, Haitian American Youth of Tomorrow
Occupation: President and CEO of 21st Century Global Consulting and an adjunct professor at Miami Dade College
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College, Master’s degree from Nova Southeastern University
Years lived in North Miami: 22 years
Public service: Member, Haitian-American Democratic Club of Greater Miami; President, Haiti Cherie Heritage Foundation