Despite Sorey's hard work, a victory still is considered a long shot, particularly after former North Miami Mayor John Stembridge declared his candidacy just a few hours before the filing deadline. Stembridge, 62 years old, is white, Republican, and seems to have no interest in actually serving as mayor again. He speaks of his past successes in improving race relations and lists among his main concerns "the safety of women when they go shopping in our city." Stembridge won't discuss the generally held theory that his candidacy serves only the purpose of ensuring a Haitian victory by attracting white residents who would otherwise vote for Sorey or not at all.
Perhaps the ploy won't be as successful as Celestin's side hopes. On the other hand, Celestin may not need the extra help. He knows he's the front-runner. He says he has no intention of jeopardizing that status by being contentious (as he was perceived in 1999), and he adds he's tried to mend fences with everyone who opposed him in the past. "I've learned a lot since my last race," he muses. "I know it's more important to be united. I know this election is mine to lose."