Four candidates vie for two Town Council seats

Thursday, November 1, 2018 0 Comments

Four candidates vie for two Town Council seats


Four candidates running for two seats on the Miami Lakes Town Council are making their last-minute appeals to voters as the general election is less than five days away.

The campaign trails have been filled with grass roots door-to-door and face-to-face meets with residents, endorsement parties and social media attacks, jockeying for position in their respective races for the November 6 election.

Attorney Jeffrey Rodriguez and business owner Xiomara Pazos are seeking Seat 2, which Councilmember Tim Daubert is leaving behind since he is term-limited.

Former government administrator Esther Colon and high-school principal Carlos O. Alvarez are embroiled in an intense battle for Seat 6, a district term-limited Ceasar Mestre well represented for eight years.

Councilmember-elect Joshua Dieguez automatically won Seat 4 on the Town Council when he ran unopposed, as the attorney is replacing Councilmember Frank Mingo, who’s vacating his seat to run for State Representative.

The candidates say the top issues facing Miami Lakes residents are public safety, traffic congestion, blasting, stopping the county’s effort to place 1-75 interchanges at N.W. 170 and 154 streets, and a proposed $55 million bond for parks renovations and buying open green spaces to stymie over development.

Pazos, who unsuccessfully ran in 2014 and 2016, said she opposes spending $55 million for parks.

“I don’t like the idea,” said Pazos, who’s lived in Miami Lakes for 10 years. “I believe our budget is balanced and we should use it more wisely and no more debt.”

Her opponent said he would let residents decide whether the town should borrow money to complete the master plan for Miami Lakes Optimist Park.

“I would let the residents make a decision for capital improvement projects,” said Rodriguez, who moved to Miami Lakes eight years ago.

Alvarez, who’s lived in Miami Lakes for 12 years, said he would support a park bond only if residents approve of it.

“What our residents decide, I’m in favor of it,” he said.

Like Pazos, Colon, said the town needs to be more conservative, especially after Miami Lakes borrowed money to build the government center without a bond referendum.

“We owe $7 million on this building,” she said. “Shame on us we didn’t put it on a ballot.”

The candidates offered their solutions for the ongoing traffic problems.

Both Rodriguez, 35, and Pazos, 61, agreed that synchronizing the traffic lights along 67th Avenue between 138 Street and the Palmetto Expressway would mitigate the gridlock.

Colon, 65, who has lived in Miami Lakes for 25 years, favors stopping over development and said the town has the money to synchronize the lights but never spent it to help reduce the traffic.

Alvarez, the principal at Hialeah Educational Academy, said the town can’t control development but can offer options such as the project to connect N.W. 67 Avenue and State Road 924.

“How close are we with that project?” he asked. “What Carlos Alvarez can give you is options.”

The candidates all agreed that the town must stop the county’s plans to place 1-75 interchanges at N.W. 170 and 154 streets, which could lead to additional traffic in Miami Lakes.

“I have attended meetings at the county with the mayor and council members to voice our concerns to keep the bridges closed,” said Colon. “If elected, I will continue to show at the meetings and voice our concerns.”

Alvarez agreed and said the traffic would get worse if the two roads are opened up.

“When elected, I will stand with the mayor and council members to make sure the bridges stay closed,” he said.

Perhaps the most difficult issue to resolve is blasting, which is allegedly causing damages inside residents’ homes, swimming pools and driveways.

A recently study by the state suggested that the rock miners are blasting within regulations, and the explosions are not causing a direct impact to residents’ properties.

 With the new Miami Lakes Blasting Advisory Committee, the candidates see the group as the first step to create some solutions and take their complaints to state lawmakers in Tallahassee. 

“The blasting has devastating effects on our residents who live on the west side with cracks in their walls and floors,” said Rodriguez. “We need to take evidence from Miami Lakes and other cities and go to Tallahassee and demand changes.”

But Pazos believes that special interests in Tallahassee are preventing any solutions to the problem.

“Once special interests stop, we can stop the problem with blasting,” she said.

Colon said she sat on a blasting committee and knows what it takes to push for changes at the state Capitol.

“We have to take those buses to Tallahassee and fight for stronger blasting resolutions to get relief for residents,” she said. 

Alvarez said creating the Blasting Avisory Committee sends a strong message the town is ready to fight for relief.

“While visiting a friend, I almost tripped and hurt myself with the cracks caused by the blasting,” he said. 

Colon said she, her family and other supporters have been at the polls since early voting started and plans to visit all the precincts on election day.

 “You will find me and my supporters at the polls meeting the voters and continuing to share my vision for Miami Lakes,” she said. “I will continue to use social media to meet my neighbors and continue to maintain an open line of communication for any questions or concerns residents have.”

Rodriguez and Alvarez are the top campaign fund-raisers; Alvarez collected $27,275 and Rodriguez has $22,850 in the bank.

Colon has raised $8,387 for her campaign, $5,000 of which she loaned herself, and Pazos collected $830.

The Miami Lakes Town Council endorsed Rodriguez and Alvarez, and Rodriguez picked up other endorsements from former Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas, the Fraternal Order of Police and Dade County Association of Fire Fighters.

Alvarez and Colon have been exchanging attacks on social media over the credibility of his school’s success and her departure from Lauderdale-buy-the-Sea, where she served as town manager for ten years.

According to published reports, the town’s mayor, Roseann Minnet, said the council had issues with Colon’s transparency, and the interim town manger gave Colon a severance package without the authorization of the council.

According to her Facebook post, Colon said she was never fired from her job or ever forced to return any overpaid funds.

“My employment contract was non-renewed by the newly-elected commission majority, and part of the severance package for unused leave was voluntarily returned by mutual agreement.”

Colon took a verbal swipe at Alvarez’s school on social media, indicating Hialeah Educational Academy is subpar despite being an A school for four consecutive years. His school was also a recipient of Newsweek's and U.S. News and World Report Best High Schools in America and the City of Hialeah's Education, Mentoring and Inspiration (EMI) Award for Best School in 2014-2015.

“I am not going to apologize for having the best school, which is ranked No. 3 in the state,” he said. “I am not going to apologize for having one of the highest graduation  rates in Florida, and I’m not going to apologize for 13 students receiving their Associate Degrees before they get their high school diploma.”


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