Daphne Campbell seeking North Miami mayor seat in 2023

Former state legislator Daphne Campbell is pictured in 2015.

Former state legislator Daphne Campbell is pictured in 2015.

rkoltun@elnuevoherald.com

Daphne Campbell, former Democratic state legislator who has faced several controversieshas filed to run for mayor of North Miami.

The 65-year-old registered nurse represented North Miami for eight years in the Florida Legislature, first as a state representative and then as a senator. She was unseated by Jason Pizzo in a 2018 primary and made an unsuccessful run for state Senate in 2020.

Campbell was the first candidate to enter the May 2023 mayoral race, according to city records. She did not respond to requests for comment about her campaign.

The latest comeback bid by Campbell, who was born in Haiti, is to lead a city of about 60,000 people in a largely Haitian-American community.

It could also set up a rematch between Campbell and North Miami Vice Mayor Alix Desulme, who lost a 2010 state House of Representatives primary to Campbell by fewer than 400 votes and unsuccessfully challenged her again two years later.

Desulme told the Miami Herald on Friday that he is “definitely interested” in running for mayor, but is waiting to enter the race until after Mayor Philippe Bien-Aime vacates the seat as he runs for Miami-Dade County Commission. Desulme declined to comment on Campbell’s decision to run.

On campaign forms filed in April, Campbell listed an address on Northwest 132nd Street in North Miami, a single-family home she purchased in November, according to county property records. Questions about residency have followed her in the past — in 2018, the Herald found holes in her residency record that made it unclear if she lived in her state Senate district as required, though no official action was taken.

North Miami’s charter says candidates for mayor must live in the city continuously for at least a year before qualifying to run for office. The qualifying period for the May 2023 election begins next March.

Campbell was also at the center of various controversies while in office. Despite being a registered Democrat, she was criticized by colleagues for taking conservative stances on social issues including abortion and gay marriage. One fellow Democrat reportedly called her a “traitor” in 2011 for supporting a Republican abortion bill.

In another incident, Campbell posted a video to YouTube showing her accepting a designer purse stuffed with cash from the pocket of a healthcare nonprofit executive at a 2017 campaign fundraiser, but later insisted it was a “joke.”

The Florida Ethics Commission imposed a $22,500 penalty on Campbell this March after finding she violated state financial disclosure laws by filing forms that failed to include unpaid taxes.

“She lied about everything, failed to disclose everything that she needed to,” Don Gaetz, a member of the ethics commission and former Republican state senator, said at the March meeting.

Campbell’s campaign for North Miami mayor has been quiet so far, with no announcements on social media and only a single $350 donation reported. Campbell also reported receiving a $1,000 loan, but an April disclosure form did not show who made the loan.

Campbell is serving as her own campaign treasurer, records show.

She is one of two candidates to enter the mayoral race with the qualifying period still eight months away. Hector Medina, a retired physician who has run several times for North Miami City Council, filed to be a candidate last month.

Campbell garnered enough support to win re-election twice in the state House of Representatives and become Florida’s only Haitian senator in 2016.

She faced personal tragedy last June when her 23-year-old son, Jason Campbell, was shot and killed in North Miami-Dade. A woman was arrested and charged with his murder weeks later.

This story was originally published July 15, 2022 3:04 PM.

Aaron Leibowitz is a municipal government reporter for the Miami Herald. He writes about local politics in every city, village and town in Miami-Dade County and sometimes beyond.

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