Miami-Dade mayoral candidate Daniella Levine Cava secured support from several Haitian leaders inside the county Thursday, just days after her opponent in the contest did the same.
Levine Cava is battling fellow County Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo in the contest to replace term-limited Mayor Carlos Giménez. Former North Miami Mayor Joe Celestin is among the new Haitian-American leaders backing Levine Cava’s bid.
“Daniella Levine Cava has selflessly served her community for years and has delivered for residents of our County instead of making empty promises,” Celestin said Thursday.
While others are campaigning to be Miami-Dade’s highest politician, she is running to be our leader to bring us together and put us on the right track. We need unity and collaboration more than ever, and Daniella Levine Cava is the candidate who will make that possible.”
The New Vision Drivers Association, a 501(c)(4) organization representing taxi drivers, is also endorsing Levine Cava. That organization was launched in 2003 by a group of primarily Haitian drivers.
“Commissioner Daniella has had our backs and has always had an open door for us,” read a statement from the group. “We need more leaders who will listen to residents and be their voice and that’s why we are supporting Daniella all the way!”
Levine Cava’s announcement comes three days after Bovo held a Monday news conference boasting his Haitian-American support. Among the new backers for Bovo was former Miami-Dade mayoral candidate Ludmilla Domond, a local real estate agent.
That news conference also generated some controversy, as it featured Democratic Rep. Kim Daniels of Jacksonville backing Bovo’s campaign. That led to a rebuke from Levine Cava’s team. Bovo’s rival cited several controversial statements from Daniels in the past, such as saying “I thank God for slavery.”
“If it wasn’t for slavery, I might be somewhere in Africa, worshipping a tree,” Daniels said in 2008. Daniels is Black. Levine Cava’s campaign condemned Bovo for accepting the endorsement.
Thursday morning, Levine Cava responded with a new group of endorsements of her own. The new support from the Haitian-American community comes just over two months after the Democratic Haitian American Caucus of Florida backed Levine Cava.
“I got my start in the heart of Little Haiti and in some of Miami-Dade’s most challenged communities. That’s precisely why I am running to be your Mayor,” Levine Cava added.
“I’ve spent my career serving these communities through social work, legal advocacy, and foundational services to provide opportunities where our government has failed. Now, I want to take that experience to County Hall and deliver for all our residents, as I have for decades. That’s why I’ve earned their support and that’s why I will continue working to make sure, together, we move Miami-Dade forward.”
Additional leaders who endorsed Levine Cava Thursday include:
— Vanessa Joseph, North Miami City Clerk
— Cassanda Arnold, Democratic Haitian American Caucus of Florida president
— Dr. Larry Pierre, founder and executive director of the Center for Haitian Studies
— Rasha Cameau, North Miami Community Redevelopment Agency executive director
— Paola Pierre, Haitian American Chamber of Commerce of Florida chairwoman
— Dr. Jean-Philippe Austin, Haitian-American community leader
— Maggie Austin, Haitian-American community leader
— Dr. Kilan Ashad-Bishop, Haitian-American community leader