Campaigns gear up for primaries

Candidates reach out to voters in the community amid elections

Erick Johnson | 7/31/2014, 9 a.m.

Burns said the audit should be extended to the city’s CRA. Another topic, the Biscayne Landing property, also gained the support of all three candidates who believe the profits from the sale to developers Oleta Partners should go into a reserve fund, where it could generate additional revenue from interest. Burns said the funds should be used for one-time projects.

Marcellus accused Burns of being soft and allowing Oleta to modify their lease many times. As far as the CRA, Marcellus said the agency was “wasteful” and ineffective during Burns’ term as mayor. Marcellus said the CRA spent more on salaries than programs. But he agreed with Joseph that the CRA is important to the city and should be extended but Burns said he wasn’t sure on this issue.

Burns, a strong contender, remained articulate and cautious throughout the forum. A candidate who has received support from both Black and white residents in last year’s election, Burns did not attack his opponents, perhaps to avoid offending his Black supporters. Such a move may also trigger another potentially divisive campaign that cost Burns the mayoral position against Tondreau in 2013. While his opponents said Tondreau’s personal problems had nothing to do with her term as mayor, Burns declined to offer on opinion when the moderator asked for one.

Burns drew several laughs from the audience when he said “Return me back to being mayor who will not embarrass the city. I assure you changes will be made. If you’re happy with the status quo, vote for these two gentlemen.”

To many in the audience, Burns appeared the most knowledgeable and insightful on various topics, giving detailed answers based on his experience as mayor. Several voters said Burns was the most impressive of the candidates that evening and may prove difficult to beat at the polls on August 26. Voters said quality and integrity will be key factors that will help them choose the city’s next mayor.

“Burns was the most knowledgeable. He knows the problems. You cannot lead the city without knowing the problems,” said Ludner Beauvoir, a North Miami resident. “This year’s race is not based on color or race, it’s based on who’s the best candidate.”

“I think it will be Marcellus,” said Cerjine Cator, a campaign supporter. “I think the Haitian-American voters will support him.”