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Crowded field runs for mayor

caines | 3/28/2013, 5:30 a.m.

Will Haitian dominance continue? The City of North Miami is one of the fastest-growing communities in the U.S., and is currently the fourth largest city in Miami-Dade County [M-DC] with 60,000 residents at latest count. It has become a haven of sorts for Haitian-Americans who continue to flock to the city. Their political power was confirmed when Josaphat Joe Celestin, was elected mayor in 1991 and again in 2001 making him the first Haitian-American to assume the helm of any large M-DC community. Of course today, Andre Pierre serves as the Citys mayor. But due to term limits, not to mention several questionable decisions made under his watch, there is a long list of candidates who would like to become mayor and change the Citys current direction. Eight candidates are running for mayor not to mention four candidates for City Council District 2 and six candidates for City Council District 3. But will voters show up on May 14th the day of the election? That may be both the million dollar question and the key to victory as voter turnout has fallen in recent years in North Miami, from 25 percent to 16.5 percent. If you do the math that means that Pierre in his first bid for mayor, was elected with less than 5,000 people voting from a potential registered voter pool of over 27,000 citizens. However, even with a deplorable number of residents casting their vote, Pierre still blanked his opponents in his re-election efforts, garnering 71 percent of the vote. Mayoral candidate, Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd, a former police chief for the City of North Miami, has returned to her old stomping grounds, knocking on doors and hoping she has the message that will motivate the city of mostly Blacks and Haitians to give her their vote. When I first joined the police department, it was in a shambles, she said. Many of the voters tell me theyre concerned that our City is now viewed in a similar light. Weve been in the news a lot lately but not in a positive light. Boyd, a former police chief in Prichard, AL and Miramar, has served as vice-president of student services at Florida International University and taught criminal justice at Broward Community College until last December when she stepped down to prepare for the election. Im pounding the streets, trying to wake up a sleeping population that hasnt participated in the electoral process for years, she said. Many of them have given up and feel that their needs arent being met. I think a Black candidate can win in North Miami and believe with my administrative skills and expertise in law enforcement, I can make a difference. The other candidates for mayor include: Kevin Burns, Modira Escarment, Dr. Smith Joseph, Jean Rodrigue Marcellus, Anna L. Pierre and Lucy Tondreau. Candidates for City Council District 2 include: Michael Blynn, Mary C. Irvin, Joseph Haber and Carol Keys. Candidates for City Council District 3 include: Philippe Bien-Aime, Michael A. Etienne, Hans Mardy, Jacques Despinosse, Katiusquie Pierre and James Herald. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com