by Starla Vaughns Cherin
North Miami mayoral candidate Dr. Smith Joseph campaigns to win the run-off election November 4, 2014. With only 523 votes between them in the special election Ken Burns and Dr. Smith Joseph work to rally voters for a decisive win.
True to his word, Dr. Joseph’s goal to serve all residents of the City of North remains foremost in his mind and campaign promises. Improve the beauty and community feeling in North Miami through strong home ownership programs, improve safe neighborhoods through a cooperative approach to community policing and improving city government transparency and responsiveness to the City of North Miami’s residents.
“Having a firm grasp on one’s personal ethics is an essential prerequisite in running for public office,” says Joseph. “One’s personal code of ethics should be high with the determination to help those people who have placed in him their trust.
“I empathize with them and know their problems. I love them and want to work for them for a better tomorrow for our children and our grandchildren.”
With the help of his wife attorney Patricia Saintvil-Joseph family and friends Joseph maintains his connections to the people and organizations he feels helped in his success. He is especially grateful to Florida A&M University (FAMU), where he graduated with a doctorate in pharmacy and where his daughter now attends.
“We were embraced and I discovered a world I didn’t know existed. When you are in class at FAMU you have good professors. You will learn about organic chemistry and you will learn about history, the people that paved the way for me to have the opportunity to be at FAMU,” says Joseph.
From FAMU working as a pharmacist at Walgreens and later the Miami Heart Institute Joseph continued his education. Coming to America from Haiti at 17, Joseph knows what it takes to work a job, support a family and continue your education for advancement. “When I came here barely speaking a full sentence of English, I worked at a rubber making factory and so many restaurants. After graduating from Miami Dade College with a laboratory tech degree I worked for seven dollars an hour,” says Joseph. “The money wasn’t enough so I worked at JMH from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. went to school from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and then woke up to deliver papers for the Miami Herald from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. then to another job.
“I understand what families go through to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.”
Joseph’s love for people comes naturally especially through his work as an Osteopathic physician specializing in Internal Medicine. After completing his residency at Grady Memorial Hospital/Morehouse School of Medicine, in Atlanta, Georgia and certification by the American board of Internal Medicine he founded the Universal Medical Centre medical clinic on West Dixie Highway, in the heart of North Miami.
Treating the whole person and focusing on preventive and comprehensive health care Joseph helped save a young man’s life by diagnosing a brain tumor. Her son unable to walk, his mother brought him to doctor Joseph knowing she had no money to pay. He had previously been diagnosed with stroke but Joseph’s eye for looking at the internal causes of illness, consulted with doctors at North Shore Hospital and Univ. of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital who operated on the boy saving his life and enabling him to walk again.
Joseph’s dad passed away when he was 10 years old. Mom came to America to make a better living to send money back home to her parents who took care of Joseph and his siblings. One by one she made enough money to send for each of her children.
Joseph’s uncle Joanel Joseph was responsible for the children and came every morning to quiz them on their lessons before going to school. “He was the academic person in the family. He would always make sure he came to our house and make us recite all of our lesson before we go to school. If you didn’t know it he was harsh. He said if I don’t make you cry now, you will make us cry later and become a bum. Once you become a bum you will be a burden on the family. The only way to get a better life is to stay in school and make a better living. It was hard on the family to have my father dead and my mom overseas working to support us,” Joseph remembers.
Living and working in North Miami Joseph sees first-hand the needs of the community. “People have told me when they have complaints and come to the appropriate department it is very difficult to speak with someone and get a solution. I want the City of North Miami government to be accessible and responsive. It should be an environment where everyone has access to city government.
“Economic development is important to the life blood of the community. Working together with the City Manager and fellow council members to establish an advisory board and business forum for small business,” says Joseph. “The advisory board would help identify state and federal monies to help small business and the forum will provide expertise and information on starting, maintaining and growing a small business in North Miami.
“The crime rate has decreased from five years ago and we want to keep the trend going. I will work closely with the City Manager and Chief of Police to utilize resources and manpower for increased visibility through the use of community satellite stations. Visibility will make it less likely for a crime to be committed and the police and community can begin to work together to understand more about each other and the diversity within the community of North Miami.
“In addition Task Forces and community crime councils are two other elements I hope to introduce. Task Forces comprised of business owners, homeowners and law enforcement officials will analyze the community using geographic grids. Each grid will be responsible for introducing strategies to reduce crime and improve public safety.
“We also want community crime councils to go into the schools speak with young people about public safety and listen to their concerns. We want to make them feel comfortable enough to come forward and report risky behaviors. This is one of the most effective ways to help isolate trouble and pierce the code of silence in communities that have let crime go unpunished.