Miami Gardens witnesses a changing of the guard

caines | 9/6/2012, 5:30 a.m.

A new era has begun in the City of Miami Gardens when last Thursday, people including State Representatives and county commissioners to Miami Garden's "favorite son" rapper and recording artist Flo Rida, turned out in force for the swearing-in ceremony of Oliver Gilbert. With his mother standing by his side, and as previous mayor Shirley Gibson delivered the oath of office, Gilbert became only the second mayor in the brief nine-year history of Miami Gardens. It is the County's third largest city with a population of nearly 110,000 residents. In addition, Miami Gardens boasts as being the largest predominantly Black city in the state of Florida. In addition to Gilbert, two City Council Members were also sworn into office: Lillie Odom, representing Council Seat 1; and David Williams, Jr. representing Council Seat 5. Once sworn in, Mayor Gilbert told the crowd that he wanted to build a city that his father would be proud to call home and his son would be proud to return to. In pursuit of a safer community, we will add more [police] officers this year, he said. In pursuit of better housing, we will add a housing authority this year. "We are looking forward to a continued great relationship [with the City of Miami Gardens]," said G. Eric Knowles, representing Sun Life Stadium, the major sporting and entertainment attraction within the city limits and home to both the Miami Dolphins and University of Miami football teams. For Valjean Smith, 77, a resident of Miami Gardens who has lived in the community since 1966, the new era in the young city's history was a time to reflect. Time moves on, he said. Changes are going to come. I expect to see big things from the new major. Former Mayor Gibson said she leaves office with a high level of hope for the future. You can never accomplish everything you set out to do but when starting a new city, everything is historic from the hiring of the first city manager to hiring the first employee. I knew from the beginning that the term limit was until 2012. I'm leaving it in good hands. That is my joy and that is my satisfaction. By Gregory W. Wrightg.w.wright@hotmail.com