Jean Monestime, who is seeking to unseat 12-year incumbent Dorrin Rolle for the Miami-Dade County Commission District 2 seat, recently won the endorsement of some pastors.
The Rev. Dr. Carl Johnson of the 93rd Street Baptist Church and at least four other community leaders came out on Oct. 8 in support of the North Miami businessman and former North Miami City Council member in the Nov. 2 general election.
They announced their support at a press conference on Monday at the African Heritage Cultural Center, 2166 NW 62nd St.
Besides Johnson, those at the meeting included pastors Anthony Brown, Anthony Dawkins and AD Lenior Sr., according to a statement released by the Monestime campaign.
“The children, elders and families of District 2 have been without responsible representation at the County Commission for far, far too long,” Johnson said, according to the statement. “It is time for a change. It is time for aggressive representation of the rights of all of the residents of District 2. We’re supporting Monestime because of his vision, virtue and vocabulary.”
Doretha Graham Nichson, president of the 100 Coalition, another of Monestime’s supporters, said it was time for a change.
“The time for change is overdue,” Nichson said. “District 2 has been the most impoverished district in the entire county for generations and the incumbent commissioner has done nothing in the many years he has called himself ‘The Governor’ to govern himself or the affairs of District 2 to make a better life for the folk who live here.”
Monestime, who finished a strong second in the primary in August, has also got the endorsement of former District 2 candidates Anthony Dawkins, Florence Moss and Mack Samuel, according to his announcement.
Monestime, who is seeking to become the first Haitian American on the County Commission, is the sixth of 10 children. He came to the U.S. in 1981 at age 17 as a refugee and mopped floors at a doughnut store for a living. He drove a taxicab full-time while attending Miami Dade College and then went on to earn an undergraduate degree in business and finance from Florida International University and a master's in business administration from Nova Southeastern University.
North Miami voters tapped him in October 2002 to fill a vacant seat on City Council and he was re-elected unopposed.
For the County Commission, he is campaigning on an anti-incumbent platform, attacking the commission, and especially Rolle, for approving funds to build the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts several years ago, a vast expansion of Miami International Airport and, more recently, a ballpark for the Florida Marlins that is under construction in Miami.
Such expensive projects, Monestime said, did not take care of the interests of “the ordinary citizens of inner-city Miami” who were now struggling with the effects of the economic recession, “no job opportunities, foreclosures on every street.”
“I am running for County Commission to put my own blessing – the ability to pursue and achieve the American Dream – within reach of every woman, man and child living in District 2,” Monestime said in his statement.