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8022: Celestin sworn in as mayor of North Miami (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <email@example.com>
Celestin sworn in as mayor of North Miami
By KEN THOMAS
Associated Press Writer
NORTH MIAMI -- (AP) -- A Haitian-American was sworn in as mayor of North
Miami, underscoring a growing political activism by Haitian immigrants in
Josaphat ``Joe'' Celestin, 44, gave remarks to an overflow crowd of 600 in
English and Creoleon Tuesday, recounting his victory after narrowly losing a
bid for mayor in 1999. North Miami, the fourth-largest city in Miami-Dade
County, is now believed to be the nation's largest city with a
Haitian-American as mayor.
``After today, our voices, votes, carry weight and are not a foregone
conclusion,'' Celestin said.
Celestin, a builder who came to the United States in 1979, won 53 percent of
the vote to defeat Democrat Arthur ``Duke'' Sorey, an African-American
former council member.
While the election was nonpartisan, Celestin, a Republican, won despite
heavy Democratic voter registration in the community.
Celestin's victory, coupled with the election of community activist Jacques
Despinosse to the city council, made North Miami the largest city in South
Florida with a Haitian-American mayor and Haitian-American city council
The election brought some tension. Only hours after his election, Celestin
told police he received more than 15 calls laced with racial slurs and foul
language. A plain-clothed police officer was assigned to him as he made his
Observers said Celestin's election was symbolic of advances in political
activism by Haitians in this community of 60,000.
``This is, in a way, a beginning to an entrance to the American political
scene,'' said Kim Ives, an editor with the Haiti-Progres, a
30,000-circulation Haitian weekly newspaper distributed in Port-Au-Prince,
Miami, New York, Paris and Montreal.
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