It's not gonna be easy to follow the dictatorial footsteps of North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre. Throughout his tenure as the city's head cheese, Pierre had done just about everything to attract the kind of attention usually reserved for a small nation's despot. His campaign manager was arrested for allegedly taking bribes. He purchased dozens of police-style badges for his cronies. He had to pay the Florida ethics commission a $8,000 fine for failing to properly report campaign contributions on his 2011 campaign reports. He didn't disclose he was an advisor to the developers of the Biscayne Landing project. And Pierre and his buddies regularly used the city's athletic stadium for pick up soccer games without paying $38,000 in rental fees.
It's gonna be sad to see the termed-out Pierre go next Tuesday when North Miami voters head to the polls to pick a new mayor. However, half of the eight candidates vying to replace Pierre have a good shot of continuing his legacy of dysfunctional, corrupt governance.
Anna Pierre (no relation to Andre)
Before becoming a registered nurse who opened a health clinic for Haitian Americans in North Miami in the early 2000s, Pierre was a pop star in her home country who sang a tune that would make 2 Live Crew proud. She sang the Creole-language hit "Suk Su Bon Bon," which translates to "Put some sugar on the candy." In the song's lyrics, Pierre demands that her husband make it sweet or else she'll leave him. Last month, Pierre told the Miami Herald and NBC6 that someone is using vodou to foil her campaign. She claimed she found candles, food offerings, and dolls with pins stuck in them in front of her office door over the last three months.
A political operative who supported Pierre's campaigns, Tondreau has specialized in divide-and-conquer elections by using the old us-against-them card. Using her popular program on Haitian radio as her pulpit, Tondreau is always telling her fellow constituents to vote for Haitian Americans, even if they are horrible candidates. In the past, Tondreau has worked on the campaigns of state Rep. Daphne Campbell, who has been dogged by several investigations pertaining to her assisted living facilities, and former state Rep. Philip Brutus, who was accused by his ex-wife of not paying $28,000 in child support and who had to pay $3553 in fines to the Florida Elections Commission in 2000 for filing late campaign reports.
Gwendolyn V. Boyd
At one time, Boyd was the first African-American woman to serve as the chief of North Miami's Police Department. But her tenure was sullied by infighting with then-city Manager Clarence Patterson. She filed complaints with state and federal agencies alleging she has been discriminated against as a black woman working under Haitian-American and white mayors. Boyd claimed she was denied pay perks discussed -- and in one case offered to -- other employees even though she was making $128,000 a year. Both complaints were subsequently dismissed. Yet, Boyd was also accused of discrimination. A little more than a year after she was hired, four white officers filed a reverse discrimination lawsuit against North Miami after a black sergeant was promoted to commander. The city later settled for undisclosed terms. Patterson canned Boyd in 2007 for insubordination.
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Of the four candidates most likely to continue Pierre's dubious governing style, Burns is clearly the front runner. Burns is going for his second stint as mayor. He preceded Pierre. But his personal finance troubles should give voters pause. Deutsche Bank has foreclosed on his house at 2065 Almanda Drive at least four times since 2006. The most recent foreclosure action against Burns was in 2012. He's been able to work out a settlement each time. The most recent foreclosure complaint was just dismissed in March. That's not all. Burns also has a problem paying his bills. In 2010, he lost a default judgement to North Miami resident Annie Montgomery. He was ordered to pay her $118,803 he owed her for a personal loan. In 2011, the Cushman School and Savits Enterprises won default judgements against Burns for $17,644 and $73,446, respectively. Court records indicate Burns has not paid any of those debts.
The other four candidates are Modira Escarment, Smith Joseph, Jean Rodrigue Marcellus, and Michael McDearmaid.
Follow Francisco Alvarado on Twitter: @thefrankness.