North Miami Council will appoint new mayor after delaying vote on moving election date

The North Miami City Council must select a new mayor to replace Philippe Bien-Aime, who resigned on Tuesday as a result of his unsuccessful campaign for Miami-Dade County Commission.

Heading into this week, there was a possibility that the city would schedule a special election for voters to choose who should replace Bien-Aime, who was forced to vacate the position he won in May of 2021 under Florida’s resign-to-run law.

Under the city’s charter, the council must call a special election if a member leaves a seat less than halfway through their term. And for days, as Bien-Aime’s resignation date loomed, the North Miami City Council considered moving the city’s municipal elections from May of odd-numbered years to November of even-numbered years to align with the national election schedule and save the city money.

Doing so prior to Bien-Aime’s resignation would have extended his two-year term an additional 18 months and triggered a special election once he stepped down on Tuesday, according to City Attorney Jeff Cazeau, since the mayor would have served less than half his term.

But during a special Monday evening meeting, the council voted 3-1 to move the matter to its Dec. 13 meeting, with Councilwoman Kassandra Timothe being the lone no vote. The vote to delay a decision ensured that Bien-Aime would resign having served more than half his term, which under the charter meant the council would appoint his replacement.

Bien-Aime, who lost the District 2 county commission race to Marleine Bastien on Nov. 8, was not present for the meeting. He had been North Miami’s mayor since 2019.

For two council members with terms expiring in May, Scott Galvin and Alix Desulme, the change would likewise extend their terms for 18 months.

Councilwoman Mary Estime-Irvin moved to table the item for the council to “get clear clarity, privately in our briefings and we come back again at this. It’s obvious we need to do that.”

Monday’s vote was the second time the council decided to delay the vote in a matter of days. On Friday, council members discussed moving their municipal elections during a special meeting, but decided not to vote on the measure.