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8732: Haitian councilman eyes first county seat (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Haitian councilman eyes first county seat

By Madeline Baró Diaz
Miami Bureau
Posted July 14 2001

North Miami · Ossmann Desir, the first Haitian elected to North Miami's city 
council, is hoping to make history again by running for county commissioner.

Desir plans to declare his candidacy Monday for the Miami-Dade District 2 
commission seat held by Dorrin Rolle, who is running for re-election in the 
2002 race.

"It's going to be a challenge," Desir said. "It's going to be a real test."

Desir, 39, would be the first Haitian-American to ever run for county 
commissioner, according to Miami-Dade elections officials. Desir says the 
Haitian community needs a representative at the county level.

"We need to be seen as participants in the process, not as some ethnic group 
that's coming to take anybody's position from them," Desir said. "For 30 
years, we have had no official voice. Our concerns have not been heard."

District 2 includes North Miami, North Miami Beach, Miami Shores, Opa-locka, 
and El Portal.

El Portal was the first municipality in the country to elect a majority 
Haitian-American council, and North Miami followed suit earlier this year 
with the election of Mayor Joe Celestin and Councilman Jacques Despinosse. 
They joined Desir, who had been on the five-person council since 1999.

Rolle, a county commissioner since 1998, said he takes all his challengers 
seriously, Desir included. Patrick Cure and Jorge Pedraza have already filed 
to run against Rolle.

"Any given Sunday, if you watch football, the weakest team can beat the 
strongest team," he said. "You have to treat all opponents as if they can 
beat you."

With more than 100,000 residents, District 2 is one of the county's most 
populated districts. It is predominantly black, with a significant number of 
Haitian-American voters.

Rolle said although some of his constituents might align themselves along 
ethnic lines, he believes the majority will look at each candidate's 
qualifications. Jean Lafortune, who heads the Haitian-American Grassroots 
Coalition, said Desir will need the votes of several ethnic communities, not 
just Haitians, to win. Desir has a chance, he said. "The outcome is never 

Madeline Baró Diaz can be reached at mbaro@sun-sentinel.com or 305-810-5007.

Copyright © 2001, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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