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Rematch set for District 2 seat

Rolle seeking to reclaim spot from Monestime as new challenger emerges

Erick Johnson | 8/14/2014, 9 a.m.
It’s a rematch of two political heavyweights. In one corner is former District 2 Commissioner Dorrin Rolle, who is seeking ...
Former District 2 Commissioner Dorrin Rolle and District 2 Commissioner Jean Monestime.

It’s a rematch of two political heavyweights. In one corner is former District 2 Commissioner Dorrin Rolle, who is seeking redemption after a financial scandal that stained his political career. In the other corner is District 2 Commissioner Jean Monestime who is riding on a string of victories in his community.

In the 2010 elections, Monestime defeated Rolle in a stunning upset of the veteran politician. Rolle has returned to avenge his loss and recapture the seat he occupied for over a decade. In addition to Monestime, he must also face Antwane A.D. Lenoir, a newcomer and potential spoiler who seeks to establish his name in county politics.

All three candidates are vying for the District 2 seat, which represents Miami, Little Haiti, West Little River, North Miami Beach, Opa-locka, City of Hialeah, unincorporated areas of Liberty City, Biscayne Gardens and North Dade Central. It was a bitter fight the last time Rolle and Monestime faced off. Rolle was the incumbent and Monestime was the challenger.

The contenders will flex their political muscle in this year’s election on Aug. 26. Early voting began Monday, Aug. 11.

AN UPSET VICTORY

Monestime ran for North Miami Mayor in 2005 and 2007, but lost in both races against Kevin Burns, who’s seeking a third term in the predominantly Haitian-American city. In 2010, Monestime decided to give politics another try, this time on the 13-member Miami-Dade County Commission. He encountered Rolle, a popular commissioner known for his community programs, picnics and activism. But Rolle was also known for being part of a county ethics probe that involved the James E. Scott Community Association (JESCA), an 80 year-old non-profit organization that went bankrupt in 2010. Rolle was accused of using his position to steer county funds to JESCA.

"I feel very good about recapturing the seat because primary voters by and large are educated about their local leadership and I am a known quantity among the voters who will show up", said Rolle in an email to The Miami Times.

Despite the controversy, Rolle won the first round in the primaries taking 40 percent of the vote to Monestime’s 26 percent. A host of other candidates, including former North Miami Mayor Joe Celestine took the remaining 44 percent of the vote. With support from other candidates, Monestime would rally and deliver a knockout in the runoffs, taking 53 percent of the vote.

ANOTHER ROUND

Monestime has been busy lately opening several major community projects in his district. Earlier this year, he opened Soar Park in Little River after creating a senior center and youth program at the facility. Two weeks ago, he opened the stylish new senior citizen center in Arcola Lakes Park. That same week, he opened the long-awaited new Northside Police Station amid dozens of residents and community leaders.

Monestime also secured $126 million in county funds to replace septic tanks for new sewer hookups. Although he is optimistic about winning, Monestime said he is not taking his opponents lightly. “You should never underestimate your opponent, but at the end of the day, your track record will follow you,” he said.