Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid and Councilman Luis Collazo retained their offices without going through an election after no other candidates qualified to run against them.
Cid and Collazo will each serve another four-year term.
Councilwoman Marilyn Ruano wasn’t so lucky.
Political newcomer Raymond Garcia, 48, an insurance manager and member of the Miami Lakes Neighborhood Improvement Committee, filed papers to run for Seat 3, three months before the 47-year-old accountant decided to run for reelection.
They’ll see who wins in the Nov. 3 election.
Another contested race has two well-known town volunteers competing for Seat 1: Antonio “Tony” Fernandez, chair of the Miami Lakes Youth
Activities Task Force, and Nayib Hassan, chair of the town’s Veterans Committee.
Fernandez is also a member of the Miami Lakes Neighborhood Improvement Committee.
They are seeking to replace Vice Mayor Nelson Rodriguez, who’s term-limited and facing attorney Thomas Fabricio in the Aug. 18 primary election.
(Whoever wins that primary race will run for state representative against incumbent Rep. Cindy Polo, D-Miramar, in November.)
To try for Seat 1, “It was an easy decision for me and my family,” Hassan said on social media. “After having their support, there is no doubt that this is what I want to do.”
Hassan, 42, is a criminal defense attorney who has lived in town since 1997.
He told The Miami Laker he’s running for political office because he wants the best for the town, and that includes keeping taxes low while delivering good municipal services to residents.
“My heart is in the town, my family lives in the town,” Hassan said. “We want the best services for our constituents and to keep the small-town feel.”
Hassan said keeping the bridge closed at Northwest 154th Street may be accomplished if the town and Miami-Dade County work together.
“I don’t want any more traffic in the town,” Hassan said.
“But I’m sure there’s an amicable way to keep the 154 bridge closed without wasting thousands of dollars in legal fees,” Hassan said.
Miami Lakes sued the county, City of Hialeah and a developer and contractor to keep the extension of the overpass at Northwest 170th Street from encroaching upon the town’s western boundary.
That lawsuit filed in October 2019 is pending.
It’s Hassan’s second bid for a seat on the council.
In 2016, he was one of three candidates who ran for Seat 5 and was defeated by Collazo.
Hassan’s goals for the town
Hassan was a prosecutor in Broward County for three years and opened his practice in Miami Lakes in 2008.
He currently sits on the boards of the Miami Lakes Bar Association and the Miami chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
He was appointed to the Florida Bar’s grievance committee for the 11th Judicial Circuit, which reviews complaints about professional conduct.
Hassan lists the Jingle Bell Jog; working with Miami Lakes AutoMall to hang military banners that honor servicemembers along Miami Lakes Drive, and the Mental Health Awareness Walk among his accomplishments while he chaired the Veterans Committee.
He said 100 percent of the proceeds from the Jingle Bell Jog go toward helping veterans cope with post traumatic stress disorder.
It’s funded by businesses and other contributors rather than taxpayers, and “brings people together in the town during the holidays,” Hassan said.
Hassan earned his undergraduate degree in economics from Florida International University and his law degree from Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
Hassan is married to Linet Torres and they have four children.
Fernandez, 35, also wants to keep taxes low.
Another goal is to make Miami Lakes the safest municipality in the state, Fernandez said.
He wants to take an aggressive stance on limestone mining and blasting, which residents say damages their properties.
Fernandez said he is also campaigning to upgrade the town’s aging infrastructure.
“We need to do a better job maintaining our sidewalks, street signs and paving our roads in certain neighborhoods,” he said.
“We have to work harder to get these things done.”
Fernandez said running for political office for the first time was an easy decision for him after living in Miami Lakes for five years.
“I love the town very much,” Fernandez said. Volunteering on two town committees was a good experience for him, he said.
While he was chair of the Youth Activities Task Force this year, the group found a way around the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on crowds to celebrate the town’s annual Easter Egg Hunt.
Fernandez dressed up as the Easter Bunny and from the back of a pickup, helped deliver Easter Eggs to kids at their homes.
Instead of canceling the town’s Movies in the Park, Fernandez pitched the idea for a drive-in at the parking lot outside Ana G. Mendez University; a second outdoor movie showing is planned for Aug. 28.
While Fernandez was a member of the Miami Lakes Neighborhood Improvement Committee, the group created the town’s annual home improvement expo.
Fernandez said he graduated from Miami Sunset Senior High School; earned a bachelor’s degree in information technology from Barry University and a master’s degree in science for information systems from Florida International University.
He is president and chief executive officer of Layer 8 Solutions, an information technology services firm. He wants to use his skills to upgrade the town’s IT system at lower cost.
“I plan to use my profession to provide solutions to produce better results,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez and his wife Pilar Fernandez moved to Miami Lakes to start a family.
“Miami Lakes is the ideal place for it because of the area schools, parks and tree-lined neighborhoods, where kids can safely play outside,” Fernandez said. “It’s the perfect fit for us.”
Fernandez and Hassan stepped down from their committee work until after the election.