Miami Gardens is a city right in the middle of trying to solve an horrific double murder – and crime is one of the major reasons some people say soon there will be an effort to recall Mayor Oliver Gilbert. Resident Fanny Arnold talked about the issue, while Gilbert answered his critics in a statement and in an off-camera meeting with NBC 6's Willard Shepard. Residents Bruce Cowert, Peter Pender and Reginald Leon gave their opinions.
Miami Gardens is a city right in the middle of trying to solve an horrific double murder – and crime is one of the major reasons some people say soon there will be an effort to recall the mayor.
“Now everybody is saying I’m sorry I voted for him,” resident Fanny Arnold said of Mayor Oliver Gilbert. “So now is the time for all us to get together and do the job we should have done in the very beginning."
Arnold is very clear – she wants Mayor Gilbert removed. Multiple sources told NBC 6 that beginning Monday, Arnold and other residents of Miami Gardens will have a chance to sign a petition calling for the mayor's ouster.
Political operative Vanessa Britto’s office, and Miami Gardens residents supporting a recall of Mayor Gilbert, indicate that on Monday Britto will file the paperwork officially starting the recall process.
"When you say recall, I’m saying that recall is saying get him out of there,” Arnold said.
Gilbert served on the Miami Gardens City Council from 2008 to 2012, when he was elected mayor. He was sworn in as mayor on Aug. 30, 2012.
Those who want the mayor removed charge that in the past he violated the state's election laws, that he oversees a city with one of the worst crime rates in the country, that he hasn't handled the city's budget properly, and they say the city is $100 million in debt.
NBC 6 obtained a document showing that in 2011 Gilbert did violate the state's campaign laws when he made a $500 donation. Gilbert self-reported the violation and was given a $1,500 fine.
The mayor didn't want to talk on camera, but did send a statement.
"As a community we are steadfast and vigilant in our efforts to transform Miami Gardens into a world-class city,” Gilbert said.
He added, “While the City is not yet what we would have it be, we continue to work with the understanding that meaningful change occurs through endless effort and unwavering conviction. We will stay the course."
At the barbershop Flat Tops and Fades, there was support for the mayor on Friday.
“I am satisfied with what's he's doing with the community because he's involved with the optimist parks,” Miami Gardens resident Bruce Cowert said. “He even comes to the games. He's very involved with the youth.”
“I don't feel like he should be taken out of the office,” Peter Pender said.
Reginald Leon had this to say: “My understanding is a lot of the murders are targeted murders. They aren't just people walking down the street getting killed. "
NBC 6 met with the mayor at his office, and he said he doesn't believe he's done anything close to the kinds of things that under the law allow for his removal.
He says crime is down in Miami Gardens despite the double murder this week, and says there isn't a $100 million debt.
Filing the recall paperwork is only the beginning of the process. Enough signatures would need to be gathered and verified to call for an election, and then voters would go back to the polls to see if Gilbert stays or goes – something, if it happens, that would be months away.
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