OPA-LOCKA — A triumphant Myra Taylor, saying she had emerged from the pit to reclaim political glory, took the oath of office Nov. 9, once again as mayor of this North Miami-Dade city.
Taylor, co-owner and operator of the Vankara Schools, was originally charged with defrauding the Internal Revenue Service, but pleaded guilty to one count of failing to file a personal income tax return. A judge sentenced her to a year’s probation. The lesser offense allowed her to seek elected office again.
Taylor slowly rebuilt her political career, returning to City Hall as a City Commissioner, narrowly losing to Kelley in 2006 and failing in a bid to get into the Legislature. Then, in the Nov. 2 general elections, she pulled an upset against incumbent Joseph Kelley, winning 53.77 percent of the vote, to take back the mayor’s job.
“In 2004, the enemy came against me like a flood,” Taylor said during her swearing-in ceremony at the Opa-locka Municipal Complex, 780 Fisherman St., on Nov. 9. “I was handcuffed like a criminal and shackled like a slave. I felt like the biblical character Joseph while in the ‘pit’ of his life. I asked, ‘Lord, what have I done to warrant this?’”
Dorothy “Dottie” Johnson, who served three terms as a commissioner and was elected vice mayor, was sworn into office at the same time as Taylor.
Timothy Holmes, who served five terms as a commissioner was sworn into office, along with Gail Miller, who served one year, on Monday, Nov. 15.
Rose Tydus, whose term expires in November 2012, rounds out the commission.
Hialeah Mayor Julio Robiana administered the oath of office to Taylor as School Board Member Dorothy Bendross-Mindigall held the bible.
“Muchas gracias, merci beaucoup and thank you,” Taylor said in Spanish, Creole and English.
“After running and losing the mayoral race in 2006 and later losing the race for state representative, I had lost my steam and any desire to get back into public service, but my husband encouraged me to try it again,” Taylor said, as her husband, Bishop John H. Taylor, looked on. “So I kept the faith, God showed-up and, to my surprise, I became your vice mayor in 2008 and on Nov. 2, 2010, I came back as mayor from the ‘pit' to the ‘palace’.”
Taylor told Opa-lockans there were difficult days ahead and added, “Some people don't want better, so they will try to block or stop our progress.”
She added, “Our city has the strength, the stamina and the endurance to overcome anything and anyone that will not promote growth and development.”
She likened the city to a train on the tracks of success that would reach its destination through team work, “our combined wisdom, knowledge and hard work.”
“Jobs will be created, streets will be re-surfaced, sidewalks poured, buildings refaced and flooding reduced,” Taylor said. “We will make our vision plain, timely, targeted and transparent. Other people will notice and use their resources and influence to help us.
Our dignity will be restored, our morale will be raised, all fear will be gone and, when people say the name ‘Opa-locka,’ our heads will rise with a smile.”
During her speech at the ceremony, Johnson said she will continue to hold her office with “integrity, accountability, proven leadership and guidance.” She promised to continue to be a “champion for children, senior citizens, a clean city, the environment and eating right.”
Photo: Myra Taylor