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Black community pastors endorse Alex Penelas in mayoral bid

Seven candidates are vying for the Miami-Dade County mayor’s seat.

The endorsements keep coming for former Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas in his bid to reclaim his old office.

Penelas, who was previously endorsed by County Commissioner Barbara Jordan and former U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, received support from 22 prominent African American pastors from communities throughout Miami-Dade County on Tuesday.

That group, which includes Pastor Johnny Barber from Mount Sinai Baptist Church and Bishop Victor T. Curry from New Birth Baptist Church Cathedral of Faith International of North Miami, lauded Penelas for his wide-ranging palette of ideas to aid the African American community.

“Mayor Penelas is the most capable candidate to lead Miami-Dade County because he has proven leadership to tackle the challenges we are facing,” said Pastor Arthur Jackson III of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.

“He has successfully fought to address issues important to the Black community that have since been neglected by many of our current elected officials, and his agenda reflects his continued dedication to the African-American community.”

Penelas, who served as Miami-Dade’s Mayor from 1996 to 2004, has also received endorsements from 11 active Mayors, and last week he earned support from 10 local LGBTQ leaders.

As Mayor, Penelas oversaw the creation of single-member County Commission districts to ensure that Black and Hispanic constituents would be represented. Miami-Dade also instituted a fully funded independent review panel and administered the Homeless Trust, which was created to better care for an estimated 8,000 people living on the county’s streets.

“As a man of faith, having the support of such prominent pastors from across the county is not only an honor but a privilege,” Penelas said. “All of them are guiding their congregations through difficult times brought by a global pandemic and the raw emotions following the unjust death of George Floyd. They have been conscientious and thoughtful leaders at a time when so many are in search of hope and guidance.”

“I have always relied on their guidance and prayers and now more than ever, I need their support as I continue this journey.”

Penelas is one of seven candidates vying for the Miami-Dade County Mayor slot, and voters will have an opportunity to cast their ballots on Aug. 18.

If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a runoff between the top two candidates will be held during the Nov. 3 general election.

Other candidates include Miami-Dade County Commissioners Esteban Bovo, Xavier Suarez and Daniella Levine Cava, trucking firm owner Carlos Antonio de Armas, entrepreneur Monique Nicole Barley and real estate agent Ludmilla Domond.

But for the pastors who endorsed Penelas on Tuesday, the choice is clear.

“Penelas has a truly transformative vision for how to solve many of the issues burdening Black communities,” Barber said. “I specifically point to his plans to increase our community’s economic equity by way of increased participation in the county’s economic development and his plans to tackle gentrification by strengthening community councils and prioritizing the development of true affordable housing on county-owned land. Our children deserve a better future, and I think former Mayor Penelas can get us there.”

“I am proud to support Alex Penelas in his effort to be Miami-Dade County’s next Mayor,” added Curry. “Our community is in need of an experienced leader with a bold vision and a public servant’s heart to help us reemerge from this crisis as a more inclusive and just community. Alex Penelas has a proven track record of delivering results for the people of Miami-Dade County, and I have the utmost confidence that he will make us proud as our next Mayor and bring the values of our faith back to County Hall.”

Other endorsers include:

— Pastor Anthony Brown, Renewed Bethel Baptist Church

— Pastor Steve Caldwell, New Providence Baptist Church

— Pastor Marc Cooper, Upper Room Ministries

— Pastor Charles Dinkins, Hosanna Community Baptist Church

— Pastor Richard P. Dunn, Former City of Miami Commissioner and Faith Community Baptist Church

— Pastor Vernon Gillum, New Tabernacle of Praise Ministry

— Pastor Carl Johnson, 93rd Street Community Baptist Church

— Pastor Eric Jules, One God in Three Persons First Baptist Church

— Pastor Wayne Lomax, The Fountain of New Life Church

— Pastor Larrie Lovett, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church of Brownsville

— Pastor Tracy McCloud, Peace Missionary Baptist Church

— Pastor Lewis Nesbitt, Greater Love Baptist Church

— Pastor Dwayne Richardson, Greater Love Full Gospel Baptist Church

— Rev. Zachary Royal, St. Mary’s First Missionary Baptist Church

— Pastor Stephanie E. Russell, Our Father’s House of Prayer Ministries Church

— Pastor Robert Stephens, The Grace Center

— Pastor Billy Strange, Mount Calvary Baptist Church

— Pastor Gregory Thompson, The Harvest Church Miami

— Pastor Richelle Williams, Jesus People Ministries Church

Written By

Spencer Fordin grew up in Port Washington, N.Y. and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida. Before working for, he spent 16 seasons with and nearly three years as a general assignment reporter in the Cayman Islands. You can reach Spencer at

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