Three newcomers lead Miami Shores council race, but a recount is still possible

Aaron Leibowitz
·2 min read

Three political newcomers appear headed for seats on the Miami Shores Village Council after unofficial results were posted Tuesday night, with just 22 votes separating the third and fourth place finishers — although a machine recount is still possible.

If the results hold, top vote-getter Sandra Harris will be sworn in April 20 as the second Black mayor in Miami Shores’ 89-year history, replacing current Mayor Crystal Wagar, who will stay on the council.

The current results also put Katia Saint Fleur in third place, which would make her the council’s first-ever Haitian-American woman and create a Black majority on the five-person body for the first time.

“That shows me the forward progress that we as a village have made,” Wagar said. “I couldn’t be more proud of that progress.”

Four candidates were vying for three seats on the council.

But the results aren’t set in stone just yet. Four ballots out of almost 2,000 cast that were rejected for mismatched signatures could still be cured by Thursday and approved by the county’s canvassing board Friday, said Miami-Dade deputy supervisor of elections Suzy Trutie.

If even one of those four ballots is cured and swings in favor of fourth-place finisher Jonathan Meltz, an incumbent, it could narrow the margin between Meltz and Saint Fleur from its current 0.51% to less than 0.5% and trigger a machine recount.

The margins between the other candidates were also thin. Harris, the former director of the city of Miami’s transportation department, stood in first place Tuesday evening with 1,154 votes, just 23 votes (0.53%) ahead of attorney Daniel Marinberg.

Marinberg led Saint Fleur, a former legislative aide for State Sen. Oscar Braynon, by 94 votes, or about 2%.

The candidate who receives the most votes in Miami Shores’ odd-year elections is traditionally appointed as mayor by the village council, although the provision is not written into the village charter.

“I am honored by the trust that the people placed in me,” said Harris, 56. She downplayed the significance of the council’s racial and ethnic makeup. Miami Shores is about 15% Black and 70% white, according to U.S. Census data. “I think we’re all focused on the work of the village, not so much on the ethnic breakdown of the council,” Harris said.

Harris and Marinberg, as the top two vote-getters, will serve four-year terms, while Saint Fleur will serve a two-year term because she finished third, assuming the results hold up.