By Lidia Dinkova
If Homestead residents thought the political waters would be calmed after Mayor Steve Bateman was indicted on corruption charges and then suspended from office, it looks like they were wrong.
The runoff between Mark Bell and Jeff Porter, which culminates in a vote next Tuesday, is a nasty, expensive affair.
There is the usual political back-and-forth: Porter, who owns Worldwide Supply Solutions, has hammered away at Bell’s lack of political experience, while Bell, an innkeeper, says Porter drove Homestead to “the brink of bankruptcy” during his previous stint as vice mayor (1997-’99) and councilman (’99-’07) and backed an unpopular rate hike by the city-owned power company.
But there are also claims of absentee ballot chicanery, an assertion that Bell received a $25,000 “gift” from the taxpayers of Homestead, a related, pending ethics complaint by Bell’s camp against Porter, and, perhaps strangest of all, a whispering campaign over a nearly 40-year-old animal control citation. The latter gripe has bubbled to the surface at a campaign event.
“It’s absurd,” said Councilwoman Judy Waldman, who is not on the ballot this year, speaking about the campaign literature piling up in her mailbox. “One day I got three mail-in pieces."