Haitian-American political activists believe they are on the verge of electing the first Haitian-American to Congress in Florida’s Miami-based 17th District, which is home to the highest concentration of Haitians in the nation.
But they are also fearful that so many Haitian-American candidates will enter the open-seat race to succeed Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) that the community’s vote will splinter and a historic opportunity will be squandered.
It’s a dynamic that has played out over and over in local city council races around the Haitian enclave of Miami Gardens, the largest city in the district.
Indeed, three Haitian-American candidates have already prepared to run, including former state Rep. Phillip Brutus, state Rep. Yolly Roberson and community activist Marleine Bastien — all of whom have political bases within the district.
Brutus, the first Haitian-American elected to the state Legislature, said he is working to clear the field because it’s impossible to win the nomination unless one candidate wins the community’s full backing.
“The community has spoken loud and clear that we’re tired of this division and want to have one person representing the community,” Brutus said. “And the pendulum seems to be swinging my way.”