Alex Penelas touts new endorsements from South Florida Haitian leaders

Alex Penelas
Penelas is one of 10 candidates competing in the 2020 Miami-Dade County mayoral contest.

A group of eight South Florida-based Haitian community leaders is endorsing Alex Penelas in the high-profile mayoral contest in Miami-Dade County.

That group includes four lawmakers in the region. North Miami Mayor Philippe Bien-Aime, Vice Mayor Alix Désulme and Councilwoman Mary Estimé-Irvin are all backing Penelas as well as North Miami Beach Commissioner Paule Villard.

“Now more than ever, Miami-Dade County needs a tried and true leader to help us overcome the many challenges we will continue facing due to the coronavirus pandemic, particularly the ravaging impact on our small businesses,” Estimé-Irvin said in a Friday statement.

“Alex Penelas has been able to lead our community through many great challenges in the past, and I have no doubt that he is the leader we need now to help our County emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.”

Penelas formerly served as county Mayor from 1996 to 2004.

The new endorsements also includes Larry Pierre, founder and executive director of the Center for Haitian Studies and Jean-Philippe and Maggie Austin, two prominent Democratic donors.

Emeline Alexis-Schulz — a community activist who has organized programs such as an annual Little Haiti Thanksgiving brunch — is also backing Penelas.

“One of the aspects that made my experience under Alex’s tenure as Mayor so special was to see how much he cared about celebrating Miami-Dade’s diversity and ensuring representation from all corners of the County in his administration,” Alexis-Schulz said.

“Much of the platform that the Haitian American community has today is due to the programs, events, and initiatives Alex put forth to raise us up and give us visibility at a time when we had none. In today’s seemingly divided world, that type of leadership is needed more than ever.”

Penelas is one of 10 candidates now competing to replace outgoing Mayor Carlos Giménez. Penelas has been the strongest overall fundraiser in the contest.

“I am proud to have the support of many Haitian American community leaders and elected officials in Miami-Dade, and I look forward to working with them hand-in-hand to address the unique challenges our community faces,” Penelas said.

“As we work to move the County forward, it is imperative that all members of the community have representation and are part of the process. Our integral and culturally rich Haitian American community is key to achieving that.”

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected]


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