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Second Chance For Miami Gardens Mayoral Candidate After Bid Canceled Over Check Mistake

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s another South Florida election mess up, with the results tossed Friday by the Florida Supreme Court.

“You are up for reelection again?” CBS4’s David Sutta asked Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert.

“I am up for reelection again. You know it’s interesting. I think I’m going to be elected three times mayor I think,” he said.

The city of Miami Gardens just reelected its incumbent mayor. But the election results won’t count and a new election will have to take place.

Candidate James Wright was disqualified from the August 30th race and his name kept off the ballot.

The former Opa-locka police chief filed as a candidate and paid his registration fee by check. But the bank returned his check unpaid.

Meanwhile, the registration deadline came and went. The election held without his name.

“It was unnecessary and unreasonable,” he said. “When I looked at the disqualification I said this is wrong.  And we began to build a house.”

But the bank made the mistake, not Wright.  His account was open and the funds were there.

“It appears that our check was not even deposited until after the qualifying period,” he explained.

Mayor Gilbert overwhelmingly won the race with 69 percent of the votes.

Wright sued and lost in Miami-Dade circuit court.

The state supreme court took up his appeal and ruled 6 to 1 in his favor.

In a statement, Florida’s Supreme Court Justice R. Fred Lewis wrote:

“In this case, an irrational, as well as unreasonable and unnecessary restriction on the elective process has tainted the entire Miami Gardens election for the office of mayor by keeping the name of a candidate off the ballot, and therefore, beyond the reach of all the voters.”

Wright is eager to get his shot.

“The system works… if you work it,” Wright said.

The ruling means Miami Gardens will have to pay up for yet another election.

“We are going to have to find the money because the Supreme Court said find the money,” Mayor Gilbert explained. “It’s going to be between $100,000 to $150,000, because they had waited until after the county had printed the ballot for the November election.”

If this decision had been made Thursday, they could have been on the November 8th general election.  But they missed that deadline and now, at this point, it could be late November or early December.

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