3rd District Court of Appeal: Michelle Spence-Jones can't seek 3rd term

Court rules Miami city commissioner is term limited

MIAMI – Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence Jones will be precluded from running for reelection again in November by an opinion from the Third District Court of Appeals issued Wednesday.

In a five-page opinion, the appellate panel upheld a lower-court decision and concluded that "Commissioner Spence-Jones was elected and qualified, within the meaning of the charter, to two full terms despite her temporary suspension."

Read: Third District Court of Appeal's opinion

Candidate Reverend Richard Dunn, twice appointed to fill the seat during Spence-Jones' suspensions, had filed the legal challenge in April.

"In terms of what is right, it's not about popularity, it's not about personality. What does the charter say?" said Dunn.

Miami's City Charter limits elected officials to two, four-year terms.

Spence-Jones, a popular District 5 Commissioner since 2005, had argued she didn't serve a full two terms, having been suspended for 21 months while fighting criminal charges. One set of charges were dropped; the other resulted in a jury acquittal.

Spence-Jones was given a full-term's back pay and pension when the governor reinstated her in 2011.

"She did receive compensation for the two years she was out," said Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado. "Maybe that's the trigger."

According to city campaign records, Reverend Dunn has opened a campaign account for the District 5 seat. So has Dr. Robert Malone, a life-long Liberty City resident who said the court's opinion cemented his decision to run in November.

"We need to improve conditions in District 5, and we just want to come together and recognize we have a lot of work to do, and we thank Commissioner Spence-Jones for her service," said Malone.

Spence-Jones didn't report to City Hall on Wednesday and declined to answer questions. In an emailed statement she wrote, "I respect the court's decision and I will continue my mission to be of service to my community. My family and I are looking forward to new beginnings."

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