North Miami filled another big vacancy by voting to hire a new city attorney at Tuesday’s meeting.
The city council voted 4-1 to hire Jeff Cazeau to fill the role that has been vacant since June 2015 when then-city attorney Regine Monestime was fired. Councilman Scott Galvin voted against the item.
Cazeau’s firm, Becker & Poliakoff, was among four law groups that applied to handle the city’s legal services. In total, the city received more than 70 applications for the position.
“I do want to thank the mayor and the council, I understand that it was not a unanimous vote, so I have some work to do, but hopefully I can do that,” said Cazeau, who remains a partner at Becker & Poliakoff but was hired individually as part-time city attorney.
Currently, Cazeau serves as the city attorney for Florida City. He also previously worked as assistant town attorney in Surfside and is a past president of the Haitian Lawyers Association.
A previous effort to hire Cazeau, at a Dec. 16 special meeting, was unsuccessful and led to some division on the dais as Mayor Smith Joseph recommended Cazeau despite him not applying in that initial search process. At that same meeting. the city chose not to approve the contract for its previous selection, Valria Screen.
Galvin, who recommended Screen, said that he’s open to working with Cazeau and wishes him success.
“I am gracious in defeat, congratulations Mr. Cazeau and I wish you absolutely the best,” Galvin said.
Cazeau has had some experience in North Miami before as he was a finalist in the attorney hiring process in 2012 before the city selected Monestime. Also in 2012, he represented a business called Sunny Isles Eatery which planned to open a strip club on Northeast 151st Street. In 2011, he served as the campaign treasurer for then-Mayor Andre Pierre’s reelection campaign.
Council members also thanked Deputy Attorney Roland Galdos for his work as interim attorney. He in turn thanked them for choosing a new attorney — with a bit of relief in his voice.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making a selection this evening,” Galdos said.
The City Council will still have to approve Cazeau’s contract at a future meeting.