North Miami Mayor Philippe Bien-Aime handily defeated former City Clerk Michael Etienne to win a second two-year term Tuesday, according to unofficial results posted by the Miami-Dade elections department.
Bien-Aime, a 55-year-old Realtor and tax preparer, led Etienne by a margin of close to two-to-one. Bien-Aime, who became a city councilman in 2013 and was first elected mayor two years ago, emerged victorious despite Etienne’s efforts to blame him for the city’s budget problems.
Councilwoman Mary Estime-Irvin, the other incumbent on the ballot, appeared poised to avoid a June 1 runoff in District 3. She received just over 50% of the vote in a four-person race, narrowly reaching the benchmark needed to win her race outright. Activist Laura Hill finished second.
Estime-Irvin, a 49-year-old business consultant, will serve a second term. She was first elected in 2019.
The one other council race on the ballot Tuesday is headed for a runoff: In District 2, former North Miami Public Information Officer Kassandra Timothe finished first among seven candidates. Former Mayor Kevin Burns came in second and held a slim lead over retired doctor Hector Medina, setting up a runoff between Timothe and Burns to replace term-limited Councilwoman Carol Keys.
About 16% of the city’s 34,000-plus voters cast ballots, the elections department said.
Residents trickled into polling places Tuesday after the majority of voters who participated had already cast their ballots either by mail or during the early voting period.
In District 2, a campaign truck drove from one polling location to the next blaring a digital video message from Timothe, a first-time candidate and the lone Haitian American in a race that featured a former mayor (Burns), a city lobbyist (Michael McDearmaid), the wife of a former councilman (Esther Blynn) and the daughter of ex-mayor Frank Wolland (Jessica Wolland).
Resident Dwardy Franck, who voted at the Gwen Margolis Community Center on Tuesday morning, said he believes Timothe’s experience working for the city and as a legislative aide — both for the Tampa City Council and for former Florida Sen. Arthenia Joyner — would serve her well in North Miami.
“I want to give her a chance,” Franck said. “Even though she didn’t have an [elected] position yet, I think she’s been learning.”
A voter at the Griffing Senior Citizens Center in District 3, Daihan Belizaire, said he doesn’t follow city politics closely but decided to cast his votes for the two incumbents, Estime-Irvin and Bien-Aime.
“From what I’ve heard, I don’t have anything bad to say about those two,” he said.