MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Keon Hardemon, scion of one of Liberty City’s most politically active families, was elected Tuesday as the youngest member of the Miami City Commission since districts were created almost two decades ago.
Hardemon, a 30-year-old Miami-Dade assistant public defender, easily outdistanced his more politically experienced opponent, the Rev. Richard P. Dunn II, for the city’s District 5 seat. He coasted to victory with the aide of departing Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones’ seasoned election team, and benefited from a host of campaign-related gaffes on Dunn’s part.
Hardemon and Dunn faced off for a second time Tuesday as the two top vote-getters during the Nov. 5 election. The younger Hardemon handily beat Dunn in absentee voting Tuesday — as he did two weeks ago — and bested Dunn in the vast majority of polling sites across the district, taking in more than 72 percent of Tuesday’s total vote.
Hardemon officially takes office at noon on Nov. 27. He will be sworn in before that, though no time and date have been set, according to our news partners at the Miami Herald.
Tuesday night, Hardemon’s supporters were in a festive mood, drinking and dancing to music played by a live DJ at Overtown’s Jackson Soul Food Restaurant. The city’s newest commissioner was greeted with congratulatory hugs from Spence-Jones, Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez and rapper Luther Campbell.
An hour after the results came in Hardemon said he was “happy the community wants to see someone who grew up here do something positive.” He said he hadn’t yet heard from Dunn.
The mood a few miles north at Faith Community Baptist Church, where Dunn and his supporters had gathered, was much more sober. Before Dunn arrived shortly before 9 p.m. the room was quiet and seemed on edge. Dunn’s arrival lifted their spirits as he greeted people individually and thanked them for their effort.
When the final numbers came in just after 9 p.m, Dunn and his supporters gathered in a circle, prayed and recited Gospel verses.
“We gave it our best and I have absolutely no regrets,” Dunn told the crowd of more than 50. “It was a good fight and all we could do is fight a good fight.”
Hardemon will now represent 80,000 residents in a diverse district that stretches from Overtown, through Little Haiti and into Liberty City, and east to the bay in the neighborhoods of Shorecrest and Belle Meade. Even with the addition of the eastern districts this summer through redistricting, District 5 remains the poorest and most crime ridden of the city’s five districts.
Hardemon promised Tuesday night to follow through on campaign pledges to fight crime, lure development and help residents get basic needs like water hookups.
In the three commission races on Miami Beach the runoff winners are:
- Group I: Realtor Micky Steinberg defeated retiree Elsa Urquiza 53% to 47%.
- Group II: Incumbent Jorge Exposito lost to criminal defense attorney Michael Grieco. The unofficial tally is Greico with 53.6% and Exposito 46.3%
- And in Group III, retired community banker Joy Malakoff trounced current Mayor Matti Herrera Bower, who decided to run for commission after being term-limited from her current post…. 59.7% to Bower’s 40.2%.