If you have been to an event in the Town of Miami Lakes, you have likely seen William Perez.
Whether it’s giving an award to young students at local schools; joining with the Elderly Affairs Committee to honor a deserving resident; marching in the Veteran’s Day parade or commenting during council meetings, he’s engaged in the town he’s called home for a half-century.
The retired U.S. Marine colonel chairs the town’s Veterans Committee and is a vice commander for American Legion Post 144.
Perez, 58, was a candidate for town council in the 2022 municipal election and said he does not have plans to run again.
Perez lives in the Loch Andrews neighborhood and is divorced. He has two adult sons, one living in Hawai’i, the other in North Carolina.
He is also training officer for the Young Marines PFC Bruce W. Carter, MOH unit. The Young Marines – in school grades 6 through 12 – earn service hours by participating in civic events and receive anti-drug education, do physical training and camp out.
Perez has also formed Veteran’s Story Hour, Inc. Veterans read to kids up to third grade and teach about national emblems such as the flag, Liberty Bell and Statue of Liberty, as well as branches of the military. For adults, there are courses about government, national security and laws of war.
Perez holds five degrees: a Bachelor of Psychology from the University of Miami; a juris doctorate from Quinnipiac School of Law; a Master of Laws in Taxes from University of San Diego School of Law; a Master of Laws from the Army Judge Advocate General’s Law School at the University of Virginia and a Master of Social Work from Hawai’i Pacific University.
Q: Where are you from and what is your background?
A: I was born in Cuba, and I came to the United States when I was four.
Q: What do you most like about Miami Lakes?
A: My family moved to Miami Lakes in 1974. We’re one of the original settlers and what I like about Miami Lakes then is what I like about Miami Lakes now: It’s a very walkable community. It’s a great place to grow up, you can ride bikes, the pocket parks; the sense of community. And I just feel like if I’m honest, it’s the best master planned community ever done in South Florida.
Q: What do you dislike about the town?
A: Traffic, but I ride my bike so much I really don’t care about traffic. I’m on my bicycle nine times out of 10. I hate to say it, but I ride the bicycle to the gym, I ride the bicycle to the grocery store, sometimes I ride my bicycle to the council meetings. It’s not that far. Traffic is not an issue for me, but it is an issue.
Q: What are the demands/responsibilities of your current position and what do you hope to accomplish?
A: The mission of the Veterans Committee, based upon what the town has said its mission is, is to advise the town council on the issues related to veterans. But I would also add that we honor those who have served. My predecessor Michael [Coote] did so much. One of the things we’re working on is to further develop Veterans Park as an enjoyable space for everyone. We have some proposals we’re going to be doing. The improvements and those proposal will include the funding sources. It’s what I hope to get started.
Q: What is your biggest accomplishment, personal or career wise?
A: Personal and career wise would be the same. I did 32 years in the Marine Corps, and I did two tours in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan. In both I did combat operations and I was awarded the Bronze Star. Folks ask, why did I stay in so long? Being a Cuban refugee and having my family leave Cuba, I told everyone the same thing: I was repaying this country for the freedom it gave my family. I guess that’s what I’m most proud of, is the fact that my 32 years was a small payment for the incredible freedom this country gave my family.
Q: What would you rather be doing, what is your fantasy career?
A: I had my fantasy career. I got to travel to 24 countries. I got to live in Japan, I got to live in Hawai’i. I can’t think of anything better than military service and the incredible people dedicated to an incredible cause.
Q: What books are you reading, are there any podcasts you’re listening to?
A: I read several books, “All Quiet on the Western Front,” [by Erich Maria Remarque], the Hindu spiritual book “Bhagavad Gida” [by Vyasa] which takes place in a battle. I don’t listen to podcasts.
Q: What have you binge-watched on TV?
A: “The Witcher” [on Netflix]. I am [also] kind of a documentary geek.
Q: Where did you last travel to on vacation?
A: I was in Europe -- Spain, Italy and France -- and that was three months ago.