MIAMI _ Suspended Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones announced on Thursday that she will run again in a special election for her vacant District 5 seat.
Commissioners will set a date for the special election at a future meeting.
Gov. Charlie Crist suspended Spence-Jones nearly a week ago, just days after she was re-elected on Nov. 3 with nearly 83 percent of the vote. The suspension came after Spence-Jones was charged with one count of second-degree grand theft, a felony.
Under the city of Miami’s charter, a suspended commissioner can run to fill his or her own vacant seat.
“For me not to run would be an admission of guilt,’’ Spence-Jones said at a news conference on Thursday afternoon, flanked by supporters wearing "Spence-Jones'' T-shirts. “I have the right to run.”
She continued: “My running is not about me. It’s about making sure we complete what we’ve started. It’s about standing up when you’ve done nothing wrong. I can stand here today and say, ‘Yes. I am going to serve my district.' I can stand here today and say, 'Spence-Jones is running for District 5.' We’re going to make it happen.’’
Spence-Jones is accused of steering two Miami-Dade County grants totaling $50,000 to a company that she and her family members owned, then spending it for personal use.
Prosecutors allege that Spence-Jones forged letters that purported to redirect the funds to her company. The funds came from a county grant awarded in 2005 to two other entities. Those organizations were supposed to receive the money to help them revitalize portions of Northwest Seventh Avenue in the Liberty City section of Miami.
A warrant was issued for Spence-Jones' arrest, and she surrendered to prosecutors at the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building on Nov. 13. There, she also held a press conference where she swore her innocence. She was released after posting $12,500 bail.