Ruano qualifies for town council race

Government Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Ruano qualifies for town council race

Miami Lakes Councilwoman Marilyn Ruano has qualified to run for reelection in November.

     Her opponent is political newcomer Raymond Garcia, who filed in May to run for Seat 3.

     Garcia, 48, believed then that Ruano was going to run for mayor and decided to seek the council seat.

     Instead, the two will face off for the unsalaried, four-year job.

     Garcia is an insurance manager and volunteer with the Miami Lakes Neighborhood Improvement Committee.

     In 2017, Mayor Manny Cid appointed Ruano, 47, an accountant and town resident of more than two decades, to the council after former Vice Mayor Tony Lama who moved out of state for work.

     Town charter rules required her to run in 2018 and she was unopposed.

     Ruano said the timing was not right for a mayoral run now.

     Her platform includes limiting the impact of blasting; improving the town’s aging infrastructure; protecting the tree canopy and supporting Miami-Dade Police who work in town.

     Ruano also wants the bridges at Northwest 154th Street and Northwest 170th Street to remain closed to traffic.

      Garcia said he’s happy Ruano is running again but he hopes to win.

     “I think more people getting involved and more voices being heard are a good thing for the town,” Garcia said. “That’s what democracy is all about.”

     Garcia has lived in Miami Lakes since 2015. While practicing social distancing and wearing a mask, Garcia has been knocking on residents’ doors during the pandemic to introduce himself to residents.

      He said voters’ main concerns are staying healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak and the local economy.

      “I’ve been getting a lot of feedback while getting to know people in the town,” he said. “They just want 2020 to end in a hurry.”

     Garcia has raised $2,675 for his campaign.

     He said saving the town’s small businesses which may be struggling during the pandemic is among the top priorities for the town.

     “We are going to bounce back and be stronger in a couple of years,” he said. “Our small businesses are the engine that keeps Miami Lakes going.”

     Born in New Jersey, Garcia said he was raised in Hialeah and graduated from Hialeah High School.     

     He earned his Associate of Arts degree in Business and Administration from Miami Dade College.

     Garcia was the parks and recreation director for the city of Hialeah Gardens from 2001 to 2004.

      A single father of four boys, Garcia said he volunteered as a coach at the Optimist Club of Miami Lakes, where his kids played sports.

     So far, the only competitive race is for Seat 3.

      Running unopposed are: Cid, 36, who co-owns the Mayor’s Café in town; Councilman Luis Collazo, 47, a health care executive who represents Seat 5 and has qualified as a candidate, and Antonio Fernandez, 34, who has qualified for the Seat 1 race.

     Fernandez runs a technology services firm and chairs the Miami Lakes Youth Activities Task Force.

     That council seat will be vacated by Vice Mayor Nelson Rodriguez, 51, a firefighter in the city of Coral Gables who is term limited and running for state office.

     Cid has qualified to run for another four-year term and has $70,590 in campaign contributions.

    Fernandez has raised $11,100 for his campaign, as of July 31.

     Collazo and Ruano have reported zero campaign contributions.

     The mayor’s job has a $19,439 salary, health benefits and a $7,200 annual car allowance.

      Town councilmembers also get benefits.

      Collazo, Rodriguez and Ruano get $12,542 in annual health insurance, the town said.

    All six councilmembers have a $6,000 annual car allowance; an expense allowance of $7,700 each and five (excluding Collazo) get $609 each year for cellphones.

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