For Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, the refrain from voters was: Four more years.
Spence-Jones, 41, easily won a second term to represent voters in the city’s District 5. She received 82.71 percent of the vote, the highest percentage among candidates for seats on the Miami City Commission. She received 3,947 votes.
In the race for Miami mayor, City Commissioner Tomas Regalado handily defeated fellow Commissioner Joe Sanchez. Regalado will succeed Mayor Manny Diaz, who could not run again because of term limits.
Spence-Jones, first elected to the commission in 2005, ran against David Chiverton, the chief executive officer of Miami/Miami-Dade Weed and Seed, and Jeff Torain, vice president and chief operating officer at Deco International Security Corporation in Miami Beach.
Chiverton received 10.04 percent, with 479 votes. Torain received 7.25 percent, with 346 votes.
District 5 includes Overtown, Lemon City, Model City, Buena Vista, Spring Garden, Little Haiti, Wynwood and Liberty City. Almost 4,800 district voters made their choices, not only on Election Day, but also through absentee ballots and early voting.
Across Miami-Dade County, where elections were taking place in Miami, Hialeah, Miami Beach and Homestead, voter turnout exceeded 20 percent.
On Election Day, different issues took priority across District 5. While Spence-Jones’ margin of victory was very large, voters are challenging her to address more pressing matters during her second term.
“What we’ve mostly been talking to voters about is the renter issue,” said Shannan Reaze, organizer of the Renter Majority Project for Power U Center for Social Change in Overtown. She said about 40,000 people rent residences in the district, and that they pay the majority of district taxes.
Tuesday, Reaze stopped at various polling places in the district to talk to voters.
“Folks are out. Folks are feeling energized [to vote],” she said. “There’s no jobs….The rent is too darn high. Folks are, ‘That’s what we need to be dealing with.’”
Reaze said voters hope Spence-Jones focuses on “what does it mean to actually have good housing….How is the city protecting renters during this crisis?”
In Liberty City, Alison Austin, chief executive officer of the Belafonte Tacolcy Center, had a different perspective. The center is a non-profit facility for children and families.
“There doesn’t seem to be a lot of energy around the election, and there certainly hasn’t been a lot of outreach from either of the mayoral candidates,” she said.
Austin said the reaction was better from District 5 candidates.
“All three of them have at least recognized the constituents that Tacolcy serves and have been through here,” she said. But she added that Liberty City had seen little economic or other progress.
Spence-Jones will also need to pay more attention to Little Haiti, Fred St. Amand believes.
“The business people are also complaining,” said St. Amand, chairman of Citizens on Patrol and a member of the Civilian Investigative Panel. “They said, ‘Where is the commissioner in District 5?’….Who are we? Are we invisible?”
All three candidates generally agreed on many of the district’s high-priority issues, including community improvements and fighting crime. The candidates’ biggest difference was on the issue of financing for the Florida Marlins ballpark project. Spence-Jones voted to approve it; Chiverton and Torain opposed it.
For full election results, visit http://www.miamidade.gov/elections/home.asp.