After weeks of citywide discussion, community meetings and occasionally tense discussions, North Miami decided to have its regularly scheduled election in May, not push the vote to next year.
The City Council didn’t make a motion to vote on the ordinance at Tuesday night’s meeting, essentially voting against the proposed change.It would have pushed back the municipal election to August 2016 to coincide with a countywide election. Some saw that as a way to boost voter turnout and save money. Others thought it would unfairly extend some officeholders’ terms.
“Both communities, the Haitian community and the other people who have spoke tonight, you all want one thing,” Councilman Philippe Bien-Aime, the item’s sponsor, said at the meeting.
Residents were mostly against the change, but many said they wouldn’t mind seeing it in the future or put to a vote in the upcoming election, as long as the current council didn’t benefit from the change.
“We the people decide who we elect and what term they’re going to be elected for,” resident Jose Iglesias said. “If [the City Council] wants to make a change, make it at another time.”
The council didn’t discuss if a potential change will be placed on the ballot in May. Voters opposed a similar proposal to change the election in the November 2008 election.
The proposal was first introduced as a discussion item by Vice Mayor Carol Keys at the Jan. 13 meeting. It later became the ordinance. The council voted 3-2 to approve the law on its first reading at the Jan. 27 meeting. After that vote, residents began to post signs across the city, meet with council members to voice their opinions and discuss the issue on Haitian radio.
Councilman Scott Galvin and Keys said they were glad to see residents be so involved in the dialogue on both sides of the city.
“There have been many times over the last few years where that energy wasn’t there and I wondered what the future of this city was going to hold through those dark days,” Galvin said.
The city will vote on an official resolution calling for the May election at a future meeting. Voters will decide on North Miami’s mayor, two City Council seats and the city clerk position.
The qualifying period for candidates begins March 30 and ends April 7.