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7804: North Miami election results (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <email@example.com>
Published Wednesday, May 9, 2001
North Miami's election results in pair of runoffs
BY WALTER PACHECO AND JACQUELINE CHARLES
A Haitian-American candidate won the most votes Tuesday in the North Miami
mayoral election, but not enough to avoid a runoff against a former City
Council member who is an African American.
Josaphat Celestin received nearly 44 percent of the vote, closely followed
by former council member Arthur ``Duke'' Sorey, with 41 percent. Former
Mayor John Stembridge, a white non-Hispanic, trailed with 15 percent.
Because no one received more than 50 percent, Celestin and Sorey will face
each other Tuesday. It's a familiar scenario for Celestin, who also ran
first in the mayoral primary in 1999 but lost to Mayor Frank Wolland in the
A Haitian American, Jacques Despinosse, and an African American, Tyrone
Hill, will also compete in the runoff after finishing first and second in
the four-person race for Council District 3. Incumbent District 2 council
member Michael Blynn overwhelmingly defeated challenger Lydia Kordalewski.
The results of the mayoral and District 3 races reflect the city's dramatic
demographic change over the last 10 years. According to the 2000 Census,
North Miami is now a majority black city, going from 32 percent black in
1990 to at least 55 percent black in 2000.
No matter who wins the runoffs, the City Council -- four council members and
the mayor -- will have a black majority, because one of the incumbents who
didn't face election this year is Haitian-American.
The strong showing by Celestin and Despinosse is the latest sign of the
growing political clout of Haitian Americans in northeastern Miami-Dade
It follows the election in November of Democrat Phillip Brutus as Florida's
first Haitian-American legislator, representing House District 108 in
northeastern Miami-Dade. The village of El Portal elected a Haitian council
majority in 1999 and had a Haitian-American mayor in 2000.
Community activists say the North Miami results are an indication of the
Haitian-American population's increasing strength and of the success of
recent campaigns encouraging Haitians to become citizens.
``What the election in North Miami is teaching us is America, a nation of
immigrants, is still giving opportunities to newcomers,'' said Jean
Lafortune, president of the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition.
Celestin, a general builder, has made several runs for office. Besides
losing to Wolland in 1999, he ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for state
Senate in 1998 and as a Democrat for state House in 1996.
He campaigned on the theme of bringing North Miami citizens together.
`JUST GETTING READY'
``My win shows that we are trying to stray from this Haitian-American and
African-American rhetoric which is dividing us,'' Celestin said Tuesday
night. ``We won today, and we will win tomorrow. We are just getting ready
for the second round.''
Sorey, a council member from 1995 to 1999, actively courted the Haitian
vote. He went on Haitian radio programs Tuesday with one of his chief
supporters, Nadia Pierre, a Haitian activist and Democrat who worked on
``Ideology does matter. You cannot compare Democrats and Republicans,''
Pierre said. ``I am proud to be a Haitian, but I am also proud to be a
Democrat. The Democratic Party has always helped Haitians in our time of
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