Spence-Jones Also-Rans Lobby Commissioners

City commissioners will appoint someone today to fill Michelle Spence-Jones's empty District 5 seat.

But the jockeying to replace the suspended commish was well under way Monday.

David Chiverton and Dufirstson Neree, losing candidates in the election, made the rounds at city hall, pitching themselves to commissioners as credible seat-fillers. They looked like two freshmen breaking bread with seniors on pledge day.

Commissioners have to appoint someone by midnight today, or another special election will be automatically triggered.

Neree, winner of a grand 66 votes in the special election, and the avuncular Chiverton, who, coincidentally, has maybe the snazziest campaign jingle ever, stopped short of speechifying.

"The meetings were very brief and informal," said David Karsh, spokesman for Commissioner Marc Sarnoff. "Basically, a short greeting."

Speeches will be saved for today's special meeting, Karsh said, where "everyone will get a chance to make their pitch and the public will also get a chance to weigh in."

That's right -- everyone. "It should be a pretty interesting afternoon," he said.

Spence-Jones's supporters have already made public an acceptable list of replacements that includes also-rans Pierre Rutledge and Erica Wright.

The candidate herself told Riptide she doesn't care who gets the spot. The replacement might occupy the seat for a short time or until the November elections, depending on Spence-Jones's pending civil lawsuit against Charlie Crist.

In an open letter that Blogging Black Miami ran Monday night, 13 supporters of the pugnacious commissioner urged Sarnoff and company to consider new faces.

"The politics of Miami can no longer be restricted to a select few. District Five needs the Commission to cast a wider net and take this opportunity to consider the abilities and talents of other citizens who have earned due consideration."
That was a dig at professional pinch hitter Richard Dunn, who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the seat and who was previously appointed to replace Miller Dawkins in 1996.

Another talked-about candidate, Patrick Range, grandson of former commissioner Athalie Range, told Riptide he approached Sarnoff about two weeks ago to throw his support behind Pierre Rutledge, Miami-Dade School Board director of operations. He has no interest in the position.

For his part, Dunn, the runner-up in the special election with 601 votes, is "ready, willing, and able to serve," says campaign manager Keith Carswell.

"He's someone who can bring calm and assurance to the community during a difficult period."
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Erik Maza