Three current commissioners and one newcomer won seats on the North Miami Beach City Council Tuesday. Another two seats will go to runoff elections to be held on Nov. 20 after no candidate took the majority of votes — more than 50 percent — needed to win outright.
Current commissioner Anthony DeFillipo will be the next mayor of North Miami Beach after winning 54.2 percent of votes and beating his two challengers outright.
Current commissioners Fortuna Smukler, who was appointed this year, and longtime commissioner Barbara Kramer will represent council groups four and six, taking 54.2 percent and 67.7 percent of votes respectively. The other outright winner, Michael Joseph, took 63.3 percent of votes to win group seven.
Groups two and five will go to runoff.
The winners will join Phyllis Smith to make up the seven-member commission.
Until Tuesday’s election, a year of unexpected vacancies left North Miami Beach residents represented by a commission of mostly appointees. Three of six members and the mayor were all appointed to their posts in the first half of 2018, although the mayor was previously an elected commissioner.
The previous mayor, George Vallejo, resigned in April as part of a plea deal regarding campaign finance violation charges brought against him by the state attorney’s office. One commissioner, Marlen Martell stepped down to take a job as city manager of North Bay Village. Frantz Pierre was removed for chronic absenteeism, reinstated by a judge, then removed again after being charged with multiple counts stemming from an accusation that he took money from a strip club owner in exchange for votes. Pierre is awaiting trial.
The result of the chaos: six of seven seats were up for election and sixteen candidates qualified to run, more than any other municipality in Miami-Dade county.
Mayor: Anthony DeFillipo
DeFillipo, 48, is a licensed real estate associate and has served on the North Miami Beach Commission since 2013 in seat two. DeFillipo is a longtime resident of North Miami Beach; his father also served on the commission for many years. DeFillipo is currently suing a local political consultant for an attack ad in this campaign that equated him to a Soprano-like mob boss.
His opponents, newcomer Robert Dempster, 41, and former North Miami Beach mayor Ray Marin, took 20.7 and 25 percent of the vote respectively.
Group Two: Runoff
Paule Villard, 58, took 47.5 percent of votes and just missed winning seat two outright. The retired police sergeant will face Jay Chernoff in a runoff election. Chernoff, a real estate broker, served on the commission from 1989 to 2007. He took 28 percent of the vote. Villard took 47.5 and the other candidate Ketley Joachim, 56, took just 24.5 percent.
Seat two was vacated by Anthony DeFillipo when he chose to run for mayor.
Group Four: Fortuna Smukler
The winner of seat four, Smukler, 55, was appointed to seat seven in May 2018, after a series of vacancies left the commission without a quorum. She had been active on various city committees for years. Smukler works for her family business, Bichachi Warehouse, and is also in business with her husband at Miami Microtronix.
Smukler beat former Miami-Dade fire commissioner Dianne Raulson, 76, with 54.1 percent of total votes in her favor.
Group Five: Runoff
McKenzie Fleurimond, 36, owner of McKenzie Insurance Group Inc., missed winning outright by just 126 votes — less than 1.5 percent of the total cast. Fleurimond served as an appointed councilman from 2010-11, and on various community boards the following years. He will now face off against another former commissioner, David Templer, a Miami-area trial attorney who barely made the runoff with 22.4 percent of the vote.
Retired teacher Margie Love, 66, came in a close third with 21.9 percent of THE vote. The fourth candidate, Alter Gambarte, 37, took just over 7 percent.
Group six: Barbara Kramer
Seat six went to incumbent Barbara Kramer, 54, who won a resounding 67.9 percent of the vote. Kramer, who is self-employed, has served as a North Miami Beach commissioner since 2009. She said she is most proud of pushing for new ethics ordinances after a series of scandals brought the commission to its knees earlier this year.
Kramer’s opponent, Miami Dade College student Henry Dube, 25, took just 32.1 percent of the total votes.
Group seven: Michael Joseph
The winner of seat seven, Michael Joseph, 37, is an associate at the Galbut Walters & Associates law firm. Joseph, a newcomer to the commission, beat current Commissioner Ingrid Forbes, after taking 62.8 percent of votes. Forbes was appointed to the commission in May 2018.