Tensions mount in District 3

caines | 11/1/2012, 6 a.m.

Veteran vs. newcomer winner takes all

Theres less than one week before we will know whether M-D County Commission Vice chairwoman, Audrey Edmonson, retains her seat for another four years or if new-kid-on-the block, Keon Hardemon can pull off a monumental upset. In recent history, only one seated county commissioner, Dorrin Rolle, was defeated by a challenger when Jean Monestime, scored a surprise victory. Now, after outlasting a slate of five total candidates in the primary and forcing a runoff, Hardemon says he feels good about the election and his chances. I appreciate the chance to be part of the forum that The Miami Times sponsored during the primary race because candidates got the chance to debate the incumbent without being rude and having to interrupt one another, he said. I have wanted to be part of more debates but the Commissioner has declined. The one time she did agree, she failed to show up. Edmonson says that she is not opposed to debates but after being featured with her opponent last Sunday on Michael Putneys This Week in South Florida news program, she thinks the viewers can see why it difficult to engage in a civil debate. Based on the anger that he displayed towards me, I just dont believe hes proven that he is ready for this job and all of its challenges, she said. Yelling is not the way to get things done. Sometimes on the dais you have to look at how the vote is proceeding and you must negotiate to get part of what you want for your constituents. The Head Start program was an example of that.

So far, a quiet race

During the primary, there were a lot more organizations that wanted to hear us talk about the issues, Hardemon said. But now since we havent been able to agree on a debate, Ive turned to knocking on doors. In terms of the issues, its hard for me to address what I would do differently without dealing with what Edmonson has done wrong. I could summarize it however, by saying shes been a failure. Carlisle has gotten all the business and Jackson Hospital is moving towards being privatized. I think this runoff is a distraction to her but I am out on the streets everyday. Even if I dont win, Ill be able to say that I did my very best to win. Some want to go with an experienced candidate. I say why go with one who is an experienced failure. Edmonson says shes heard the criticisms before and that they are all unfounded. Weve been going door-to-door, talking to homeowner and condo associations and speaking at churches and with senior citizens, she said. They get what Ive been doing for them and say they are satisfied. Thats all I can ask. Jobs, affordable housing and creating more economic development are still the keys to my platform. As for things like Carlisle getting all the business, I dont even make the decision on who gets open bids. Theres a separate committee that does that and they are not part of my personal staff. Carlisle is the number one affordable housing business in the U.S. it seems logical that they might have the best bid on more than one occasion.

Term limits will impact the commission

Hardemon says he wants to do more than just occupy a seat he wants to use his education and experience as an attorney to advocate more effectively for District 3 citizens. But Edmonson says that should term limits be approved by voters, someone that is unfamiliar with county government may have a difficult road ahead of them. Miami-Dade County is larger than 17 U.S. states and our budget is larger than theirs too, she said. This is not the time for someone with a handful of ideas. You need to know how to be effective at the job. Fr. Richard Marquess-Barry, rector of The Historic St. Agnes Episcopal Church, says, I think Edmonson is the better person and has demonstrated the capacity and steadiness to occupy that seat. Former candidate for District 3 county commission, Nadia Pierre said this about Hardemon: He isnt the typical politician hes responsible, efficient and will be accountable. Hes the change we need at this time. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com