MIAMI – Turning aside concerns over accountability, Miami-Dade voters gave overwhelming support Tuesday to an $830 million bond issue for the Jackson Health System.
About 65 percent of voters said yes in the referendum in which the county-owned healthcare network, with Jackson Memorial Hospital as its centerpiece, sought the money to modernize its facilities and extend its reach into the community.
In another development, voters in Miami’s District 5 – the only majority black electoral segment of the city – forced a runoff between Miami-Dade Assistant Public Defender Keon Hardemon and perennial candidate the Rev. Richard P. Dunn II. They will face a run-off in two weeks.
In the election to succeed Michelle Spence-Jones, Hardemon garnered 45.82 percent of the votes – way ahead of Dunn’s 22.21 percent. Jacqui Colyer received 21.53 percent and Robert Maolne Jr. 10.44 percent.
Long-time Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado cruised to re-election with 78 percent of the vote. More nationally, Bill de Blasio, New York City’s public advocate – ombudsman between City Hall and residents – was elected mayor, scooping up 73 percent of the vote. He became the first Democrat elected mayor since 1989, when David Dinkins, a black politician, held the post.
The mayor-elect, who has been married to an African-American woman, Charlene McCray, since 1994, campaigned stridently against the highly controversial “stop-and-frisk” tactic used by the New York Police Department. He has also denounced the income inequality of the city, frequently citing Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.
In Miami, Spence-Jones, who is term-limited, took the spotlight one final time as city commissioner Oct. 30, at a farewell reception at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex, 212 NE 59th St. attended by hundreds of supporters.
Spence-Jones, who endorsed Hardemon for the District 5 seat, said she wanted to ensure her district was left in the hands of a capable person who would continue to build upon the foundation built by her and her late predecessor, Arthur Teele.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done. Commissioner Teele planted the seed, my job was to water it and new leadership will be responsible for bringing the harvest,” Spence-Jones said.
She said she will remain engaged in the work of bettering her community and will launch a foundation called “Promises Kept” that will focus on seniors and youth.
“I wanted to officially say not ‘good-bye’ but ‘see you later.’ I have no regrets. I am blessed to have been chosen by you to serve you and by God to bring light to a dark place,” she said.
Hardemon praised Spence-Jones’ work on the commission. “What she’s done for our community gives me inspiration and it’s part of what makes me believe there are some people in this community who actually believe in good works,” he said.
“Moving forward to fill her shoes, I’d like to do bigger and better because our community is on the verge of really becoming something great, but I always believe in paying homage to those who’ve come before me and Spence-Jones has done a tremendous job,” Hardemon said.