Rev. Richard Dunn Squares Off Against Michelle Spence-Jones Over Miami Commission Seat Monday

Dunn suing to stop Spence-Jones from running for another term

By Julia Bagg
|  Monday, Apr 8, 2013  |  Updated 8:30 PM EDT
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Judge Jorge Cueto heard arguments Monday over whether District 5 Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones can legally run for a third term this fall in a lawsuit filed by Rev. Richard Dunn. The rivals have eyes on the same Miami City Commission seat. Cueto, Dunn, Dunn's attorney J.C. Planas, Spence-Jones and her attorney Bruce Rogow spoke about the issue.

Judge Jorge Cueto heard arguments Monday over whether District 5 Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones can legally run for a third term this fall in a lawsuit filed by Rev. Richard Dunn. The rivals have eyes on the same Miami City Commission seat. Cueto, Dunn, Dunn's attorney J.C. Planas, Spence-Jones and her attorney Bruce Rogow spoke about the issue.

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Photos and Videos

Dunn Suing To Stop Spence-Jones From Running Again

Former commissioner Richard Dunn is suing to stop Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones from seeking another term in office. He and his attorney Juan Carlos Planas made their case, while Spence-Jones declined to comment.

Spence-Jones Back at Work

Suspended commissioner returns to Miami City Hall amid budget, employee squabbles.
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Two rivals with eyes on the same Miami City Commission seat this November faced off in court Monday in an early morning hearing.

Judge Jorge Cueto heard arguments over whether District 5 Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones can legally run for a third term this fall in a lawsuit filed by Rev. Richard Dunn.

Cueto said he's made a decision and is ready to rule but won't reveal his ruling until Wednesday.

Spence-Jones Holds Her Own Swearing In Ceremony

"I'm really ready to rule from the bench but I know whatever I do will have consequences," Cueto said.

The City of Miami charter only allows two consecutive terms but a city attorney has said since she did not fully serve her two terms she's eligible to run again.

After Spence-Jones' election in 2009 she was suspended while she faced bribery and grand-theft charges. She was exonerated of the charges and reinstated.

"I think the voters should have the right as to who we elect and I think that if we're doing things from a democratic standpoint, we should allow the voters to make a choice, it should not be based upon what a judge is saying," Spence-Jones said.

But Dunn, who took over Spence-Jones' commission seat during her suspension, is taking her to court, insisting her time should be up.

"The charter, which has been written, is clear. Right is right, you can't get around it, the law is the law," Dunn said.

The hearing to decide the issue was set for 6:30 a.m. Monday. An attorney for Dunn said the hearing was scheduled so early to expedite going before a judge.

VIDEO: Dunn Suing to Stop Spence-Jones From Running Again

When he filed the lawsuit earlier this year, Dunn said it was about the city charter, not a personal rivalry with Spence-Jones.

"It is not about Michelle Spence-Jones,” said Dunn. "This is not a personal issue. It's based on a principle – what does the city of Miami charter say?"

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