A Vote for Keon Hardemon Is a Vote for Progress

Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke endorses the man who will be Miami's next District 5 commissioner.

With absentee ballots being mailed and early voting beginning in two weeks for the City of Miami November election, it's important 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, Rev. Richard P. Dunn II, a perennial candidate who has won the Miami City Commission seat only when he wasn't facing off against Michelle Spence-Jones, the current commissioner. He was forced to give it up two years ago when she was reinstated after she beat public corruption charges.

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.

A graduate of Miami Northwestern Senior High, Hardemon has undergraduate and master's degrees in business administration from Florida A&M University and a law degree from the University of Miami. As a public defender the past three years, Hardemon has seen firsthand how decades of poverty, gun violence, and lack of economic opportunities have destroyed the lives of African-American men in District 5. Hardemon's success is living proof that black people are not looking for government handouts. 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. He's an old-school activist like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who are good at getting blacks riled up for marches and rallies but don'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.

We never get a fair shot. For example, African-American developer R. Donahue Peebles recently submitted a winning $250 million proposal to build a hotel and apartment building surrounded by restaurants, shops, and nightclubs on a two-block piece of land. Despite being ranked number one, Peebles was forced to accept a decision that split the project with a competing developer, All Aboard Florida.

If we want to continue the progress Spence-Jones began, the choice is simple: Vote for Hardemon.

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