With absentee ballots in the mail and early voting beginning in two weeks for the City of Miami's November elections, it's important that residents in District 5, which includes Overtown, Brownsville, Little Haiti, and Liberty City, cast their ballots for Keon Hardemon.
Last year, the 29-year-old attorney put his name on the political map by forcing a runoff against entrenched Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson. Though he eventually lost, he grabbed a respectable 37 percent. That means 19,434 people voted for him.
All he needs is one-third of that total to beat the presumed favorite in this race, Rev. Richard P. Dunn II, a perennial candidate who won only when Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones was suspended over a public corruption case. Dunn was forced to give the seat up two years ago after the charges were dismissed and Spence-Jones was reinstated. Knowing he couldn't beat her at the polls, Dunn successfully sued the city to keep her from seeking a third term. But that opened the door for Hardemon, a bright young man who is an inspiration for Miami's African-American community.
Vote for Keon Hardemon in Miami's District 5
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A graduate of Miami Northwestern Senior High, Hardemon has undergraduate and master's degrees in business administration from Florida A&M University. As a public defender the past three years, Hardemon has seen firsthand how decades of poverty, gun violence, and a lack of economic opportunities have destroyed the lives of African-American men. He has a platform that will put people to work and create jobs from Overtown to Liberty City.
Dunn represents the old guard of black Miami politicians. Like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, he doesn't have what it takes to provide African-Americans with the tools to succeed in life. People also can't trust Dunn. A vote for him is a vote for Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who is supporting the longtime minister in order to control the community redevelopment agencies that are supposed to pump millions of dollars back into blighted neighborhoods such as Overtown.
If we want to continue the progress Spence-Jones began, the choice is simple: Vote for Hardemon.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.