Former Homestead Mayor Jeff Porter filed paperwork on June 4 to run for a fourth term as mayor.
Porter, 59, ran for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, a cabinet-level office but was defeated in the primary.
A state law known as the “resign-to-run” rule required him to leave office effective January 9, 2019. Vice Mayor Stephen Shelley became Homestead’s interim mayor at that time.
“There are projects I’d like to see finished,” said Porter by phone. “The major issue now is the Cybrary that needs funding and other downtown projects. Losner Park is another big issue that’s just starting. I’d like to see something done with the old City Hall site.”
Asked to speculate on other candidates for the two year mayoral term, Porter demurred. “It’s early and people pick up packets all the time (for office) and don’t go through with it,” he said.
Current Council seats up for election in 2019 are those currently held by Councilmembers Roth, Fairclough and Burgess. Councilmember Jon Burgess is prevented by term limits from running again for that seat.
Mayor Shelley must decide to return to a final two years of his Council term or to run for his own term as mayor, requiring an election for the underlying Council seat.
“The election would then be four Council seats plus the mayor’s office,” said Porter, “but that’s all speculative.”
The deadline to qualify as a candidate is August 26; the primary election is October 1, 2109.
Instructions on how to run for office are on the City’s website under the Chief Clerk’s office listed as Election Information.
Porter was asked about issues raised by Council candidates. “City infrastructure is so broad and has too much that’s out of our control. Like Homestead’s snarling traffic concerns, we have little input.”
“The focus has to be step by step,” Porter said. “The upgrade to the sewage system is an example. The contractor finalizing the project is in violation of the time line of the contract and it’s time for us to pursue that.”
“The free trade zone in eastern Homestead could have been huge but hasn’t been productive,” he said. “We had an agreement between the County and the Air Force for general aviation to come through the base but that’s stuck at the Pentagon. We’ll have to rely on goods being driven here and not flown in.”
Asked about the ULTRA festival at the Speedway, Porter was thoughtful. “The City did what was needed to help the racetrack seal that deal. It could be a big event for Homestead. People tell me it’s a respectful crowd and not like other troubled events. Its traffic problems were caused by limited ways in and out. It’s not clear what the caliber of the race event in March will be. Ultra could give us that major event for South Florida.”
“I have the track record to help the City and there’s a lot of good left to do,” added Porter. “The team on City Council is pulling together. I decided to fill that center seat to keep things moving in the right direction.”
We will continue to report on all candidates as they officially announce their runs for local races representing the citizens of South Dade. Next week we will look at open races at the local, county and state levels.