Miami Gardens must hold its mayoral election all over again after one of the candidates was wrongly disqualified from the race, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The court ruled in favor of James Wright, who was disqualified as a candidate on the Aug. 30 ballot. It ordered that last month’s results — in which incumbent mayor Oliver Gilbert won reelection with 69 percent of the vote — be tossed and a new vote be held with Wright’s name on the ballot along with the three other candidates from the August race: Gilbert, former councilman Ulysses Harvard and political newcomer Clara Johnson.
The ruling also strikes down a section of state elections law related to candidate qualifying.
Wright now has two days, excluding the weekend, to pay the qualifying fee and be placed back into the race. Because the ruling came just as the county was readying the Nov. 8 ballots for the printer, the election would likely take place later in the month when other municipalities will have their runoffs from the Nov. 8 general election.
Wright, former Opa-locka police chief, was disqualified June 20 by City Clerk Ronetta Taylor. She said in a letter that the check Wright used to pay his qualification fee was returned to the city because the bank couldn’t find his campaign’s account number. State election law says if a check is returned for any reason, the candidate must be notified and given the opportunity to pay with a certified check but must do so before the qualifying period ends.
In Wright’s case, the bank didn’t return the check to the city for more than two weeks after qualifying ended. It was returned because of a bank error; Wright’s account was already open and he had funds to cover the check.
You can read more about this story at our news partner, the Miami Herald.