Pizzi settlement is done, Miami Lakes town attorney tells council

Featured By Linda Trischitta, Editor Thursday, June 13, 2024

Miami Lakes will pay former Mayor Michael Pizzi $1.625 million for legal fees for his defense in a federal criminal case, a decision that ends a decade of courtroom battles and payments to lawyers. After a jury found in 2014 that Pizzi was not...

Candidates for Miami Lakes Town Council Seat 6 submit questionnaires; Special Election is April 9

Government By Alexandra Herrera, Reporter Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The race for Miami Lakes Town Council Seat 6 is underway. Five candidates are competing for the office that may be decided in a special election April 9

Former Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas, a town resident, will moderate a candidate forum at Town Hall on March 7. 

The candidates have all been active volunteers on town committees and some have previously sought or held public office. 

To run for the council, they had to resign their committee and board appointments. 

They are: 

-- Hector Abad, 53, a social worker in Miami-Dade County Public Schools 

-- Esther Colon, 70, a former town manager in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea 

-- Bryan Morera, 32, an attorney with his own business law paractice 

-- Nelson Rodriguez, 54, a former Miami Lakes vice mayor and retired firefighter. He works at American Airlines baggage services and teaches emergency medical services at Barry University 

-- John Rogger, 37, a public relations and media specialist for South Florida Austism Charter School and a radio personality 

The candidates all filled out the same questionnaire by Feb. 19, which can be read in full below.  A future report will describe candidates' endorsements and political contributions. 

Hector Abad:

1. Name: Hector Abad

2. Neighborhood: West Lakes

3. Education? Year graduated and last degree earned. Graduated in 2000 with a Master of Social Work (MSW)

4. Occupation: School Social Worker

5. Employment history: Miami-Dade County Public Schools (1995-Present)

6. Have you ever been arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime? No

7. Have you ever been a plaintiff or a defendant in a civil action, including bankruptcy or foreclosure or had a restraining order issued against you? No

8. Do you belong to any professional or civic organizations? Miami-Dade County Association of School Social Workers & Miami Lakes Middle School Parent Teacher Student Association

9. Have you ever run for office before? No

10. Do you have any political action committees? What’s the name of your PAC? How much money have you raised so far? No.

11. Do you have any endorsements? If so from who? As of today, I have not had any endorsements.

12. Why are you running for this office? I have decided to run for office so that I can contribute to a team dedicated to advancing the town's progress through budgeting, crafting ordinances and offering guidance to the town manager and staff, ensuring the delivery of the services our residents rightfully deserve.

13. Given this is a non-partisan seat, if elected do you believe you can make decisions without being influenced by your political party? Local decisions should always be based on what is best for our community and residents, not on personal political views.

14. What distinguishes you from the other candidates? As a school social worker, I've cultivated empathy, patience, effective communication, and active listening skills. I collaborate within a multidisciplinary team to identify and address issues in the school community, creating interventions for those facing challenges. These skills are transferable and would be valuable in assessing community needs and crafting policies to address them positively.

15. What are the top three issues for Miami Lakes and what are the solutions? There are multiple issues that need to be resolved in the town. At this moment, I believe the top three issues that pose ongoing challenges for our residents are: traffic, blasting, and infrastructure. Addressing traffic involves complex solutions due to non-resident road usage and school-related impacts. Advocating for opening ramps to I-75 on 67th and 87th Avenue could offer relief. Blasting remains a concern for west side residents. The recent inclusion of the issue in the Florida House Regulatory Committee is a positive step. Collaborative efforts among impacted communities can amplify our impact on policymakers. Lastly, prioritizing budgetary resources for aging infrastructure is crucial.

16. Should the Town start its own police force? If yes, how should it be paid for, and do you know the cost of raising a police force?  Although I support the presence of a local police force in our town, I think there are lingering questions that only a thorough cost analysis can address. I commend our local officers for their outstanding efforts in maintaining community safety and preventing crime.

17. Blasting affects many residents on the west side of Miami Lakes. How would you motivate state representatives in Tallahassee to reduce the impact upon property owners?  Perseverance, education, and collaboration among affected communities are essential to inspire state representatives unaffected by this issue to offer relief to our residents.  Progress has been slow but I’m hopeful we are moving in the right direction.

18. Do you support the improvements for Optimist Park? If yes, how should it be paid for? Absolutely! I see Optimist Park as a cornerstone of our community and integral to our infrastructure, fostering unity among generations. It's crucial for all stakeholders to collaborate in assessing necessary improvements and exploring financing options. Are grants available, or could a public-private partnership be viable? In the recent election cycle, residents opposed the proposed price tag, not the necessity of enhancing the park.

19. Do you think it was the right decision to choose the rollback rate for the budget? While I recognize the importance of offering tax relief to our residents, I am concerned that the rollback may negatively impact future budgets, potentially compelling upcoming town council members to make undesirable decisions.

Esther Colon:

1. Name: Esther Colon

2. Neighborhood:  East Side Miami Lakes

3. Education? Year graduated and last degree earned. Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL – 1999; Center for Advanced Criminal Justice Studies – Criminal Justice Executive Leadership Program Graduate

Saint Thomas University, Miami, FL 1993; Master of Science in Management – Graduate Certificates in Human Resource & Finance; Florida International University, Miami, FL – Bachelor of Business Administration – Accounting & Finance; Miami Dade Community College, Miami, FL – Associate of Science, Association of Arts – Business & Accounting

4. Occupation: Retired Public Servant and Professor.

5. Employment history: Municipal Govt [25 yrs.] and Sheriff's Office [7 yrs.] Educator [15 yrs.]

6. Have you ever been arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime? N/A

7. Have you ever been a plaintiff or a defendant in a civil action, including bankruptcy or foreclosure or had a restraining order issued against you?  N/A

8. Do you belong to any professional or civic organizations? 

Current Professional Organizations

International City/County Management Association – Washington, DC

Government Finance Officers Organization – United States and Canada Member

Florida Government Finance Officers – Certified Government Finance Officer Designation

Association of Government Accounting – State of Virginia – Certified Government Finance Manager Designation

Community Organizations

Zonta International and Zonta Club of Miami Lakes – Member

Women for Commission, Miami-Dade County – Member (Nominated by René Garcia, Appointment by Board of County Commissioners)

Miami Lakes: Cultural Affairs Committee, Blasting Advisory Board of Miami Lakes – Sheriff Ad Hoc Committee

Volunteer Organizations

Lotus House, Free the Girls, Loving Soles, Children of Inmates, Helping Hands Youth Center; Fundraiser Volunteer

Giving Gators, S.T.E.P.S. in Right Direction, Habitat Women Build, Elderly Affairs and Jerrys’ Squad Miami Lakes

Women’s Breast & Heart Health Initiative, Susan G. Komen, Operation Care & Support, Fundraiser & Outreach Volunteer

Camillus House, Project Phoenix, Kristi House, Clothing Closet, Rethread T-Shirt, Campaign Contributor & Volunteer  

9. Have you ever run for office before?  Yes

10. Do you have any political action committees? What’s the name of your PAC? How much money have you raised so far? N/A

11. Do you have any endorsements? If so from who?  Not at this time, qualified 4/13/2024 

12. Why are you running for this office? My depth of experience in municipal and public safety operations and knowledge of fiscal accountability and transparency allows me to share fundamental institutional understanding to collaborate with my colleagues and collaborate with the administration to recommend best practices solutions and preserve fiscal conservatism in our Town. As a town resident of over thirty years, we can work together to continue to prosper our Town’s mission, address the needs of the community with sound financial decisions, and enjoy the Main Street atmosphere in our Town. Decades of community service and volunteerism have been my constant drive throughout Miami Dade, transforming lives. Mentoring our youth has been uplifting and advocating for seniors and engaging with my neighbors has strengthened trust and solidarity among those I serve. I am committed to serving and staying engaged with the residents to change the current climate in Town Hall and the community positively. Proud change agent at local and county level forums, with a solid understanding of good governance, ensures that public resources are used efficiently, protecting our citizens’ rights.

*2023 Recipient -Town of Miami Lakes Woman of Distinction award in the volunteer category.

*2019 Recognition - Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure as one of two local team fundraisers. “Miami Lakes Life”

13. Given this is a non-partisan seat, if elected do you believe you can make decisions without being influenced by your political party?   YES

14. What distinguishes you from the other candidates?  A retired public servant with thirty-two years of municipal and county service. Practical experience in day-to-day administration, including public safety operations, with hands-on knowledge of finance, budgeting, procurement, grants, human resources, contract-labor negotiation, and debt management.  Throughout my public service career in management, finance, and budgeting, I have received from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting and Distinguished Budget Awards.  

I am a public servant who can effectuate change. Trust needs to be restored, and I know that I can work together to accomplish our Town’s mission to keep Miami Lakes growing beautifully and bring back our Main Street atmosphere by collaborating with the Town Council and administration but, most importantly, our neighbors to maintain our community’s economic health and continue to evolve together as our culture is constantly changing.

15. What are the top three issues for Miami Lakes and what are the solutions?  Currently Sidewalk, Drainage, and Traffic Congestion

16. Should the Town start its own police force? If yes, how should it be paid for, and do you know the cost of raising a police force?  Former member of Miami Lakes Sheriffs’ Ad Hoc Committee, a prior study indicated that it was cost prohibitive. With my seven years of administrative experience in the daily operations of the Sheriff’s office in Broward County, the Town currently does not have the financial resources to fund the police force. They do not have the infrastructure or technical specialized resources needed. They would have to continue to maintain interlocal agreements with Miami-Dade County for dispatch services and specialized departments.

This question should be in the November 2024 ballot if this is the direction the Town elected officials wants to take. The voters need to be engaged and adequately informed. A current, timely, thorough cost study analysis is necessary because, at a minimum, double taxation will occur. Currently, our contracted police services are 51% of the Town’s annual general fund budget. 100% of the property taxes fund approximately 88% of public safety services.

17. Blasting affects many residents on the west side of Miami Lakes. How would you motivate state representatives in Tallahassee to reduce the impact upon property owners?  As a former member of the Miami Lakes Blasting Advisory Board, I have been an advocate for lower blasting limits to provide some protection and relief to the homes of our residents and the property of our business community.  I have attended and participated in numerous forums for the past ten years and traveled to Tallahassee last year to seek support for a house bill from the state representatives.

18. Do you support the improvements for Optimist Park? If yes, how should it be paid for?  This question was on the ballot in 2022, and 61% of the residents in Miami Lakes voted no to incur the bond debt of $19.5 million dollars for park improvements when approximately 75% of the park property is owned by the Miami Dade School Board. You can’t continue to disenfranchise the citizens, and I respect their decision. 

19. Do you think it was the right decision to choose the rollback rate for the budget?  Historically, the Town has maintained surplus year-end carry forward undesignated fund balances in several funds. The Towns’ financial position at the end of the 9/30/2023 fiscal year reflected an undesignated fund balance in the general fund of $3.2 million, which was available to lower the millage to the roll-back rate and provided tax relief to the residents in Fiscal Year 2023-2024.

Bryan Morera: 

1. Name: Bryan Morera

2. Neighborhood: Satori / West-Miami Lakes

3. Education? Year graduated and last degree earned. FIU College of Law 2017, Juris Doctor

4. Occupation: Attorney and Business Owner

5. Employment history:

I worked as an Associate Attorney at a Miami Lakes law firm called Mario Serralta & Associates primarily handling insurance litigation matters from January 2018 – March 2019. Then I went to work as an Associate Attorney at a law firm called O’Connor Hernandez where I handled complex business litigation, international litigation, and various transactional matters from March 2019 – June 2022.  In June of 2022, I opened my own law firm right here in Miami Lakes called Morera Law Group, P.A., where I handle corporate transactions, contract drafting, review, and negotiation, corporate structuring and asset protection, and commercial litigation. I am still the lead attorney and owner of the firm. In February of 2023, I opened another business called Executive Business Management for the purpose of offering various business advising and consulting services. 

6. Have you ever been arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime? No

7. Have you ever been a plaintiff or a defendant in a civil action, including bankruptcy or foreclosure or had a restraining order issued against you? No

8. Do you belong to any professional or civic organizations?

Miami Lakes Chamber of Commerce

Florida Bar

Florida Bar, Business Law Section

Florida Bar, Young Lawyers Section

Town of Miami Lakes Neighborhood Improvement Committee (formerly)

Town of Miami Lakes Blasting Advisory Board (formerly)

9. Have you ever run for office before? No

10. Do you have any political action committees? What’s the name of your PAC? How much money have you raised so far? No

11. Do you have any endorsements? If so from who?  I am blessed and honored to have the support and endorsement of Councilman Joshua Dieguez, Councilwoman Marilyn Ruano, Councilman Luis Collazo, as well as countless other Miami Lakers.

12. Why are you running for this office? Simply put, I believe I have something to offer the community. I love Miami Lakes, and I love living, working, and playing in Miami Lakes. I want my young nephews and future children to love living, working, and playing in Miami Lakes. That is why I am running. We need someone who has the skills, knowledge, and courage to secure the future of Miami Lakes, to make sure that it evolves with the times, but that it always maintains its small-town character.

13. Given this is a non-partisan seat, if elected do you believe you can make decisions without being influenced by your political party? Yes, I do. My beliefs and principles govern my choice of political party, not the other way around.

14. What distinguishes you from the other candidates? First of all, we are blessed to have a superb cast of individuals running in this election. With due respect to all of them, I believe that my combination of passion for advocacy, my knowledge of the law, my experience in negotiating terms favorable to my clients, my experience in advocating for my clients’ rights in and out of court, my experience as President of my Homeowners’ Association, and my experience in advocating for things that matter to Miami Lakers adds unique value to our Town Council in a way that pushes Miami Lakes in the right direction while preserving its small-town character and nature.

15. What are the top three issues for Miami Lakes and what are the solutions?  In no particular order, the top three issues for Miami Lakes are (1) taxes, (2) blasting, and (3) public safety. In a time where the price of groceries and daily essentials are at record levels and the cost of living is taking a bigger bite out our everyone’s pocketbook, elected officials need to make the difficult choices that will result in the lowest possible tax burden on our residents. This includes ensuring that taxpayer money is not spent on projects that don’t serve or benefit the residents of our Town and looking for alternate streams of revenues from things like sponsorships and land-leases. This also means streamlining ineffective processes to yield more cost effectiveness.

Blasting from the limestone rock quarries should concern every resident in the Town of Miami Lakes. For most of us, our homes are our greatest investments and the setting of some of our fondest memories. However, blasting puts our homes, our businesses, and our safety at significant risk. Unfortunately, however, the regulation of blasting is handled at the state-level. During my time on the Town of Miami Lakes Blasting Advisory Board, I had the opportunity to advocate to our elected officials in Tallahassee for the implementation of reduced blasting intensity limits that would allow the rock mines to continue their very important work while protecting our properties from further harm. It is imperative that we continue fighting for these changes. Currently, the Blasting Advisory Board is not given any budget. This has caused issues with being able to secure low-cost travel arrangements when the BAB needs to make a sudden trip to advocate, such as what happened earlier in February when the issue was finally put on a committee agenda for the first time after years of hard work. I propose the establishment of a fixed budget for the BAB to allow them to accomplish their mission. I further propose that the issue of blasting be placed higher on the Town’s state legislative priorities so that the issue is advanced by more than just the BAB.

Finally, as to public safety, I believe we need to give our police the tools and resources necessary to provide effective and efficient services. This includes ensuring a clear and streamlined chain of command, dispensing with policies that don’t yield results, and adopting policies that do. As an attorney, I am used to relying on experts to provide insight into matters beyond my expertise. That is why I would seek the perspective of Major Gonzalez and Lieutenant Ulloa, as well as our patrol officers, to find and improve inefficiencies, provide resources, and ensure that they have what they need to keep us safe.

16. Should the Town start its own police force? If yes, how should it be paid for, and do you know the cost of raising a police force?  This is a nuanced issue that will ultimately be determined by costs and quality of service. However, at this time, there is so little information out there regarding the potential effects of such a change, that it would be irresponsible to take a firm position on it at this point. The residents need a candidate who analyzes and thinks critically about the issues important to them and is not going to jump to conclusions without being fully informed. At this point, the current Town Council is considering the commissioning of an independent study that would provide a glimpse into what it would look like for the Town to have its own police force. My position on it would be based on several factors, such as: (1) the up-front costs to get the department set up; (2) whether any medium- or long-term savings are gained from moving the police force in-house; (3) whether the change results in greater control over how police services are rendered in our Town; (4) whether the change results in better services to our residents; and (5) assuming that costs are higher than the current circumstances, whether that increased cost is justified by better quality of service. Of course, there are more factors, but these are the main ones that would affect my decision. What I do know is that we currently have a phenomenal police force that, given the right tools and resources, can be even better, so any in-house police force would need to beat out the current system. I can also say that I am not in favor of contracting services from other municipalities such as the City of Hialeah as I believe such relationships may result in reduced quality of service and issues with retention of good police officers.

17. Blasting affects many residents on the west side of Miami Lakes. How would you motivate state representatives in Tallahassee to reduce the impact upon property owners?  As a former member of the Town of Miami Lakes Blasting Advisory Board, I believe there are two main ways we can turn up the pressure on our officials in Tallahassee: (1) allocate a budget for the BAB to ensure that they have the funding and resources to print materials and literature for the elected officials and ensure that they can book travel arrangements quickly when the issue is brought before any committee of the State Legislature; and, (2) the blasting issue should be raised to a higher priority on the Town’s state legislative priorities. The latter would ensure that beyond the BAB, the Town’s senior staff and elected officials will give greater weight to the blasting issue during meetings with State officials and also instruct our Town lobbyist to give greater weight to the issue. You may have noted that I used the phrase “state officials” instead of state representatives, I did so because this is not about merely motivating state representatives, but also state senators, and key members of the State’s executive branch such as the CFO and State Fire Marshal.

18. Do you support the improvements for Optimist Park? If yes, how should it be paid for?  I grew up playing in Optimist Park. First, as a student at Miami Lakes Middle School (before the fences separating the school from the park went up), and then as a player on the MLOP baseball leagues. As such, I have a warm place in my heart for MLOP. When the idea of improvements first arose, I was in support of making improvements because I knew first-hand how the slightest rain showers would cause the fields to flood and cancel practices and games. I even joined the team of individuals who sought to gain support for the park improvements.  However, what was first sold as needed improvements and modernizations, quickly grew into something that resembled more of a Disney World theme park than a municipal park, including the associated price tag. I found it irresponsible to indebt the Town, at taxpayer’s expense, to the tune of $15, $18, or $20+ million for a park. As I began to voice my opposition to the massively expanded plans, I found myself unceremoniously kicked out of the group advocating for the park improvements.

Today, my position is the same as it was then: the MLOP needs improvements, surely, but we don’t need to re-create Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Miami Lakes, and we certainly don’t need to indebt the Town tens of millions of dollars in the process. I believe that some of the improvements that can be looked at include: (1) improvement of drainage; (2) replacement of stadium lights with newer LED lights that yield long-term savings in energy consumption; (3) improvement of baseball dugouts; and the establishment of a workout trail similar to the one at Veterans Park so that MLOP is more attractive and usable for Miami Lakes residents and not just those participating in the Optimist Leagues. These are far more reasonable modifications, both practically and financially. I would also propose that sponsorship opportunities be maximized to minimize the amount of taxpayer dollars funds that need to used for the improvements; this would include naming rights for each baseball field, advertising on the dugouts, fences, light posts, and scoreboards, leasing the right to place antennas on the stadium lights to cellular providers, and leasing the dock space on the north side to a private company to host kayak, peddle boat paddleboard, and other water vehicle rentals (the docks are currently closed most of the time due to liability concerns, this would allow the Town to pass liability concerns to the private company hosting the activities). These are as of yet untapped sources of revenue that would help offset costs of making the necessary improvements and operating the park going forward.

19. Do you think it was the right decision to choose the rollback rate for the budget?  As I previously mentioned, in a time where the price of groceries and daily essentials are at record levels and the cost of living is taking a bigger bite out our everyone’s pocketbook, must make the difficult choices that will result in the lowest possible tax burden on our residents, while ensuring that the Town is able to meet its obligations and provide quality services to its residents. For that reason, I do believe the Town Council made the right decision in choosing the rollback rate for the budget. With the right prioritization of expenses and streamlining, I believe the Town Council could meet the needs of the Town with the same Ad Valorem revenues as the prior year.

Nelson Rodriguez: 

1. Name: Nelson Rodriguez 

2. Neighborhood: Royal Gardens next Royal Oaks Park

3. Education? Alumni of Pace High School 1987, Miami Dade College 1991, Firefighter/Paramedic EMS

4. Occupation: EMS Instructor at Barry University and Lead Agent at American Airlines(Envoy)

5. Employment history: Retired after 33 years as a Firefighter/Paramedic City of Coral Gables. 

6. Have you ever been arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime? No

7. Have you ever been a plaintiff or a defendant in a civil action, including bankruptcy or foreclosure or had a restraining order issued against you? No

8. Do you belong to any professional or civic organizations? Vice Chair Board of Directors Monsignor Edward Pace High School.

9. Have you ever run for office before? Yes. Elected to the Town Council 2012, reelected 2016 and ran for State Representative in 2020. Vice Mayor 2019-2020. 

10. Do you have any political action committees? What’s the name of your PAC? How much money have you raised so far? No PAC. I have not raised any money as of this writing although in this very difficult financial time I plan to run a small conservative campaign. 

11. Do you have any endorsements? If so from who? Endorsed by the residents of Miami Lakes that have asked me to return to the town council.

12. Why are you running for this office? After receiving many calls from neighbors and supporters, I have decided to run again. After the November 2024 election we will have 5 new council members. I believe I can be a mentor to these new council members, and I hope to bring unity back to this current council.

13. Given this is a non-partisan seat, if elected do you believe you can make decisions without being influenced by your political party? Yes, and I have proven it throughout my previous time on the council.

14. What distinguishes you from the other candidates? I am ready to go to work on day one. I have a proven track record as a council member. I understand the town operations and I am very familiar with the needs of our residents. 

15. What are the top three issues for Miami Lakes and what are the solutions? Taxes, street maintenance and traffic. 

16. Should the Town start its own police force? If yes, how should it be paid for, and do you know the cost of raising a police force?  I do not believe we should start our own police department. The cost would be astronomical and raise taxes. The publicsafety budget for fiscal year 2024 is over $10 million dollars which is over 50% of the budget. The town collects approximately $9 million dollars in ad valorem taxes meaning that thepublic safety budget is over 114% of the taxes collected from property taxes. Our current millage rate is 2.07% and would double or triple if we have our own police department. Examples rates of similar size cities with their own police departments, Miami Springs 6.9100% and North Bay Village 5.7062%. We have a great police department now. “If it is not broken don’t fix it”. 

17. Blasting affects many residents on the west side of Miami Lakes. How would you motivate state representatives in Tallahassee to reduce the impact upon property owners? I have been advocating for blasting limits for over 20 years. My pool has been damaged by blasting beyond repair. Replacement would require removing the existing pool structure and building a new pool. Estimated cost above $80,000. I’m hoping that the legislation that Representative Tom Fabricio and Senator Bryan Avila are proposing will pass. 

18. Do you support the improvements for Optimist Park? If yes, how should it be paid for? Optimist Park is in need of updating. We need to look at options on how all users of the park help pay for the upgrading costs. The park is open to all Miami-Dade County residents meaning that the county needs to contribute to the project before making Miami Lakes residents carry this financial burden. 

19. Do you think it was the right decision to choose the rollback rate for the budget? As I mentioned earlier the tax millage rate controls the day-to-day town pperations. At this time, I cannot make a judgement on the budget. We will know the impact of the rollback rate as the town prepares its mid-year budget review. 

John Rogger: 

1. Name: John Rogger

2. Neighborhood: West Lakes

3. Education 2008 – Broadcast Journalism 

4. Occupation: Radio Personality at KRMS Radio & Media Relations for South Florida Autism Charter School

5. Employment history: I've been working since I was 7, kicking off with my own landscaping business. From there, I jumped into the world of stock car racetracks across Missouri and Illinois, announcing and soaking in the excitement. In 2006, I made the move to broadcast radio, landing at KRMS Radio, where I hosted various shows, managed a news department and took charge of their social media.

Florida beckoned, and I stepped into the role of content director for LiFT Digital, a marketing & social media firm. Later, I worked the overnight news manager position at iHeart Radio’s 610 WIOD. Currently, I'm the go-to guy for mediae relations at the South Florida Autism Charter School and have proudly chaired the Special Needs Advisory Board for the past 3 years.

But wait, there's more—I'm still working with KRMS, where I work remotely as a news anchor and host the 98.7 The Cove Morning show. I'm also wearing the hat of an autism advocate, juggling office manager duties at Florida Shores Realty, and gearing up to host the much-anticipated "South Florida Weebs" podcast—shedding light on South Florida's vibrant "Weeb" culture of cosplaying, anime, and sci-fi.

6. Have you ever been arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime? No

7. Have you ever been a plaintiff or a defendant in a civil action, including bankruptcy or foreclosure or had a restraining order issued against you? No

8. Do you belong to any professional or civic organizations? Former SNAB board member.

9. Have you ever run for office before? No

10. Do you have any political action committees? What’s the name of your PAC? How much money have you raised so far? N/A

11. Do you have any endorsements? If so from who? 

1. Rolando Navarro, Registered Behavioral Technician

2. Dr. Cicily Payne Nestor

3. Pastor Darius Wentz, GATE Community Church

Endorsements of Character:

1. Miami-Dade Police Officer Robin Amador

2. Audrey Amadeo, Arts For Autism

3. Marianela Alvarez, Hope For Autism

4. Manny Cid, Miami Lakes Mayor

12. Why are you running for this office? I'm stepping up to run because I genuinely believe in the potential for growth in our community, and I want to be a driving force behind it. As an adult with autism and a passionate advocate for inclusivity, my mission is to ensure that our special needs population is not just acknowledged but also authentically represented. I firmly believe that every member of our community deserves to enjoy the same quality of life promised by our constitution and bill of rights, regardless of their unique abilities. My personal journey has taught me that we're capable of far more than some labels might suggest. I want to inspire and demonstrate to the special needs community in our midst that there are no limits to what we can achieve. In a time when divisive issues are causing strife, I aim to be the person who brings people together, ensuring that the voices of our community are heard and respected. I deeply love our community, and I'm committed to being a representative who genuinely listens to the concerns and ideas of our residents. Let's build a stronger, more inclusive community together, where everyone's voice matters.

13. Given this is a non-partisan seat, if elected do you believe you can make decisions without being influenced by your political party? Absolutely. This election isn't about choosing between right and left; it's about selecting a representative who truly embodies the spirit of the people. It's all about what our residents desire. I'm not here for any other reason—either we align with the will of the people, or there's no point in being here at all. Let's make this about us, our community, and the shared vision we have for a better future.

14. What distinguishes you from the other candidates? I proudly identify as an autistic adult, someone who has shattered stereotypes about what individuals with special needs can achieve. My strength lies in being an exceptional listener and a person driven by passion. With a foundation built on great character and unwavering integrity, I bring to the table the experience of an Eagle Scout. Throughout my journey, I've consistently proven to be the person others can rely on, no matter the situation. I believe in the power of our community, and I'm dedicated to being the representative you can trust to bring positive change.

15. What are the top three issues for Miami Lakes and what are the solutions?  Hey neighbors, having served as the chair of the Special Needs Advisory Board, my commitment to fostering an inclusive community for all residents, regardless of abilities, runs deep. With some key voices leaving the council in November, it's crucial that we continue championing the needs of our special community, and I'm stepping up to be that advocate.  Beyond inclusivity, I'm passionate about preserving the essence of our town's growth. Let's not just grow but do it beautifully. Our tree canopies define us as a town that's "growing beautifully," and I'll fight to preserve them. Responsible development is key to maintaining our unique charm. Too many places are falling behind, and road projects need attention. I'm determined to make sure our streets and greenery remain a priority, shaping an environment we can all take pride in.

Safety is paramount, and I believe in not just talking about it but taking action. That's why I'm pushing to expand the Miami Lakes Police Department Traffic Unit. Ensuring our streets are safe and traffic flows smoothly is a shared responsibility, and I'm ready to take that on.

Additionally, I'm dedicated to finalizing the Miami Lakes License Plate Reader (LPR) project. This tool is crucial for our officers to keep our community safe. I'm all for equipping our law enforcement with the resources they need to do their job effectively.

Transparency is the cornerstone of a strong community, and I'm committed to making sure you're in the know. Regular workshops and community meetings are on my agenda to open up the town to all of us. Three minutes at a council meeting isn't enough to truly connect, share ideas, and understand what's happening in our community. We're a small town within a big county, and that should mean knowing each other by name and being open about everything we do. 

Let's grow, preserve, and connect—because our town deserves nothing less.

16. Should the Town start its own police force? If yes, how should it be paid for, and do you know the cost of raising a police force?

From where I stand, creating our own force right now might not be the best move—unless the transition from Miami Dade PD to Miami Dade Sheriff deems it necessary. We've got a solid deal in place with the current department, bringing us incredible officers who genuinely know and care about our town.

Preserving the connection, we've built is crucial to me. I'm all about keeping those familiar faces in our community. I'd prefer to keep the dialogue open and work collaboratively with the new Sheriff. Our existing partnership has proven effective, and I want to ensure it stays that way. This is especially important because our Special Needs Safety Program is woven into that department, offering our special needs residents’ recognition not just here in our community but throughout Dade County wherever officers are needed.

Let's build on what's working and maintain the relationships that make our town a community we can be proud of.

17. Blasting affects many residents on the west side of Miami Lakes. How would you motivate state representatives in Tallahassee to reduce the impact upon property owners?  Let's simplify this – it's about negotiations, plain and simple. We've hit the end of our patience rope, but it's crucial to approach Tallahassee with calm and professionalism. Rattling the bear's cage might set us back, so I propose a different approach.  Having been in the thick of negotiations across various fields throughout my career, I've learned that finding common ground and showing appreciation yields faster results than heated arguments. I'm all about compromise, and let's bring these folks to the table as many times as needed to find a solution that works for everyone. Otherwise, we'll be stuck battling this as long as the construction on the Palmetto continues.

18. Do you support the improvements for Optimist Park? If yes, how should it be paid for?  Absolutely! Our parks are more than just spaces; they're vital to our community. When repairs or upgrades are needed, we can't afford to lag behind. However, it's not just about throwing money at the issue; we need a well-thought-out game plan for all our parks.  Let's start by revisiting our agreement with the school and gaining clear clarity on park ownership and how we can collaborate effectively. As I've emphasized before – GRANTS, GRANTS, GRANTS! There are numerous opportunities out there that can help us enhance our parks without tapping into taxpayer funds. Why not seize the chance to access free money that betters our community? Let's dig into the available grants, do our research, and craft a plan that not only benefits our community but also saves us money.  Together, let's make our parks places we're all proud to enjoy,

19. Do you think it was the right decision to choose the rollback rate for the budget?  Absolutely! Times are tough in our economy, and I get it—residents are already grappling to make ends meet. It's on us as a council to figure out how to trim the excess and spare taxpayers from shelling out more. We've got a responsibility, and we better be skilled at it.  Let's break out the calculator and pinpoint where we can cut the fat. Keeping our rates low is the key to being a successful town, and that's precisely what we aim for. I'm committed to making the tough decisions that benefit our residents and ensure our community thrives. Let's navigate these challenging times together.