Mingo, Rodriquez, Cobiella seek vacant seat 4

Community Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Following the resignation of Miami Lakes Councilmember Nelson Hernandez, who’s making a bid for the mayoral seat, three new political qualified to gain a foothold in government even if it’s for a short period of time.  

In the political fray for Seat 4 are Frank Mingo, a supply chain manager for Oliva Cigar Corporation, attorney Lorenzo Cobiella and realtor-associate Star Rodriguez. The winner of the October 1 special election will fill the remainder of Hernandez’s four-year term, which expires next year.  

Albeit the residents are new to the political stage, they all have experience in community and civic service throughout the years and are ready to take their knowledge to the next plateau. 

Frank Mingo, 53, served on the Miami Lakes Economic Development Committee and Miami Lakes Police Department Review Committee. 

He also served as president of the Silvercrest North Homeowners Association, and he sponsored the Miami Lakes Veterans Day Parade. Mingo has lived in Miami Lakes since 1986 because he and his family love its small home town feeling. 

“We believe it’s the best town to live and raise a family,” Mingo said. The supply manager for Oliva Cigar, which is headquartered in Miami Lakes, said Miami Lakes means everything to his family. “In a word, it means ‘Home’,” he said. “We live, work, shop, eat and play in Miami Lakes. Our life revolves around Miami Lakes.” 

Mingo said Miami Lakes flirting with the idea of proposing to annex unincorporated Palm Springs North essentially sealed his decision to run for elected office for the first time. He’s also pushing to keep property taxes low if elected. 

“I am pushing to restore transparency and ethics in our local government to move Miami Lakes forward and back on track. Those are my priorities,” he said. An open and transparent government is also one of Mingo’s goals and objectives, especially on procurement projects. He said Miami Lakes must place all contracts and vendors on the town’s website for the public to view, and he’s pushing for voters to approve any boundary changes instead of elected officials. 

“Due to the recent attempts to annex the Miami Gardens Drive area, I believe the town charter should be amended in November to require Miami Lakes voter approval of any changes to our municipal boundaries,” Mingo said. “The present situation where the Town Council is the only annexation approval authority is not good public policy and I will work hard to make this change. Finally, as a town we must keep our town safe and secure for our residents and visitors.”  

As part of his campaign, Mingo is using every resource available to reach residents and present his political platform. He’s knocking on residents’ doors, mailing out campaign flyers and literature, talking to residents around Miami Lakes’ businesses and shopping centers and using Social Media to inform them about his message and vision for the town. 

“Residents are concerned with past and future annexation efforts,” he said. “They also want a more transparent and open government and they want their taxes to remain low.” 

Mingo will have an open door policy with specific dates and times where residents can meet with him at Town Hall to discuss issues affecting their lives and his plans to address them. Mingo said Miami Lakes residents should vote for him because he’s  been on the opposite side of suspended Mayor Michael Pizzi for years. 

“With me, voters will have a clear break from our recent negative experience,” he said. “I know why we incorporated in the first place, and I have a plan to maintain our good quality of life for the present and future.” 

Mingo is married to Carmenchu and they have two grown children. 

Star Rodriguez, 48, grew up in Hialeah and moved to Miami Lakes in 1998. She’s a member of the Miami Lakes Education Advisory Board, served on the Educational Excellence School Advisory and PTA and PTSA executive boards for Miami Lakes K-8 Center, Miami Lakes Middle School, Miami Lakes Educational  Center, Ben Shepard Elementary and Jose Marti MAST 6-123 Academy. 

Rodriguez was also a founding member of the Miami Lakes Optimist Park P.O.P., and a United Way mentor for Take Stock in Children at Miami Lakes Educational  Center and Jose Marti MAST Academy.  Rodriguez, who is associated with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, said she and her family moved to Miami Lakes to provide a better quality of education and a safe and nurturing environment for their oldest child. 

“We enrolled in kindergarten at what was then Miami Lakes Elementary School and began to enjoy a quality of life offered by this town,” she said. Miami Lakes means a lot to Rodriguez and her family. “This is our family’s home, and we are fortunate to enjoy a quality of life here that is second to none,” she said. “As parents, we are invested in the success of our local schools, and the opportunities it offers to our children. My husband and I feel that having top rated schools, parks to play in, safe streets and a thriving metropolis just moments away is the very best we can offer our children. As homeowners, we know what continues to keep our property values strong, We enjoy knowing our neighbors and that small town feel.” 

Rodriguez said she decided to run for elected office to place a woman back on the Town Council and give residents a councilmember who’s not beholden to any special groups.   

“I felt I could offer residents a voice that more closely resembled their own,” she said. “They deserve someone who will view the issues from their perspective and vote accordingly and without personal gain. There are no women on the Council and I would like to bring back a balance of representation that more closely resembles the make-up of the town.” 

If elected, Rodriguez said she’s pushing for a planning process to include residents’ feedback to get the town working collectively like a close-knit family. 

“I feel there is much need for residents’ input in the planning process,” she said. “I would like to see the committees work to collaborate more often. We need to provide more accessibility to the parks by increasing programs that are inclusive to all residents. I’d like to explore the usage of the youth center to serve our seniors during school hours.” 

Besides knocking on residents’ doors, Rodriguez is reaching them by phone calls and using Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter. 

“I am asking those that support me to call on their friends and family and ask them to do the same,” she said. “Connecting with residents has been encouraging.” 

Rodriguez said residents want fresh faces with new ideas and leadership to move the town in the right direction but keep the small-town ambiance. “They want more transparency, and less business as usual,” she said. “Growing business and revenue, but preserving our quality of life. It’s a delicate balance to achieve.” 

Rodriguez said she plans to keep an open door policy if elected. She will be available by phone and emails. 

“I will also like to host venues to engage residents’ input into the planning stages, as well as problem solving,” she said. “When residents are part of the solution, it’s more likely to be a success, as they are happier with the outcome.” 

Rodriguez said she’s the perfect candidate because she has been working behind the scene for years. Now she’s ready to be the residents’ voice on the Town Council. 

“I will vote my conscience,” she said. “Serving the residents is something I have been doing behind the scenes since 1999. I’ve worked to support our schools and library as voting member of the Education Advisory Board and multiple EESAC’s alongside our teachers and administration to promote the success and accountability of our students. “My intention is to serve the residents and preserve our quality of life in Miami Lakes, making sure it remains the only place we want to live.” 

Rodriguez is married to David Rodriguez and they have three children. 

Lorenzo Cobiella, 34, said he decided to answer his calling of running for elected office. He said caring for Miami Lakes is his passion and he didn’t like the direction of the town. 

Cobiella, a member of the town’s Planning and Zoning Board, said he wants to protect the town from over development, which is out of character for Miami Lakes, and be a champion for senior citizens. “It’s part of what I do as an attorney and I care about the senior citizens,” said Cobiella, who served on the Miami Lakes Elderly Affairs Committee. 

“We want to cater to their needs and get the senior center open for their benefits to enjoy and conduct health screenings. We want to address their needs.”

Cobiella has been living in Miami Lakes since 2007 but grew up in the area.  He attended Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic School and Pace High school.  Cobiella has been involved in the youth programs at Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church, Habitat for Humanity and food and toy drives during the Holiday season. He moved his law practice from Brickell to Miami Lakes at the Elias Law Firm. 

(Editor’s Note: Cobiella did not respond to a Questionnaire request to outline his campaign goals. The information above was obtained from his campaign materials.)

Arbor Place Main St Fountain