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Campaigns turn dirty as election nears

Erick Johnson | 8/21/2014, noon
The political race for Miami Gardens’ general election turned dirty last weekend after allegations of unethical campaigning swirled among candidates ...
The real endorsement list is on the left. Ragoo’s opponents accused him of distributing a fake copy that’s on the right.

The political race for Miami Gardens’ general election turned dirty last weekend after allegations of unethical campaigning swirled among candidates seeking seats on the city council.

The seats are currently occupied by Lisa Davis and Dr. Erhabor Ighodaro who are stepping up their campaigns against a group of determined candidates who want to change the city with bold opinions and fresh ideas.

Davis, who occupies Seat 2, seeks a second term against Charlene Butler, 65, a retired postal worker and Tamarah Lee, who has a law degree from the University of Florida.

Ighodaro occupies Seat 6. He is being challenged by Andre Williams, a formal council member and Francis Ragoo, a real estate agent. Another candidate, Mykita Cherry-Prime, is a high school teacher who is also pursuing Seat 6.

All the candidates have made campaign promises to polish the city’s image by reducing crime and urban blight in the streets.

FAKE FLYER DISCOVERED

But the candidates clashed this weekend when campaign workers discovered a fake flyer that promoted Ragoo and Butler. The flyer was a reproduction of another list that was published and distributed by Abraham Thomas, a prominent activist in the city. The flyer shows Thomas’ endorsed list of candidates who are running for various state, county and city offices in the general elections on Aug. 26.

The correct flyer lists Davis and Ighodaro as the endorsed candidates. But on the fake one, Ragoo and Butler were listed as the preferred candidates. State Rep. Barbara Watson, who’s seeking re-election for her District 107 seat, was also on the original flyer. But her opponent, Michael Joseph, was listed as the endorsed candidate on the fake flyer. A copy of both flyers were obtained by The Miami Times.

The flyers were discovered Sunday by Ighodaro’s campaign workers who were canvassing outside the North Dade Regional Library on 183rd Street and 27th Avenue. Candidates have been busy campaigning outside the early voting site since Aug. 11.

Campaign workers said they saw Ragoo’s supporters give the fake flyers to voters as they entered the library to cast their ballots. The Times obtained photos of Ragoo’s orange-clad campaign workers passing out the fake flyers.

After being notified of the literature, Ighodaro, a teacher at Norland Middle School, said he confronted Ragoo about the fake flyers.

“He was arrogant. He tried to dismiss it and said he didn’t do it (create the fake flyer),” Ighodaro said. “If you are a leader who’s cheating before you get into office, then you will cheat when you’re in office.”

RAGOO’S RESPONSE

Thomas, the maker of the original flyer, said he spoke with Ragoo about the incident.

“I went to him (Ragoo) and he said he had no knowledge of the flyer,” Thomas said. “But it’s no problem. We don’t need to focus on this right now. I’m not supporting him (Ragoo)because he is running against someone (Ighodaro) whom I hold in the highest regard.”

Ragoo disputed his opponent’s claims.

“I don’t know who printed them,” he said. “I stopped distributing them immediately when I learned about it. They (Ighodaro’s campaign) are trying to make an issue out of it. Maybe they printed it, but it’s not me.”