Note: This story has been updated with the correct qualifying dates for candidates.
Miami Lakes will hold a special election on April 9 to replace Vice Mayor Carlos O. Alvarez, who cited personal reasons when he resigned Nov. 14.
The winner will fulfill Alvarez’s term and serve until November 2026.
The day after Alvarez resigned, Mayor Manny Cid nominated Mariam D. Yanes, chair of the Planning and Zoning Board, to replace Alvarez. Her appointment would have required a vote at a special call meeting, but some council members did not make themselves available for a quorum.
During the Jan. 16 council meeting, council members Luis Collazo, Josh Dieguez and Marilyn Ruano voted against Cid’s proposal to appoint Yanes to a brief term that would have lasted until this year’s election on Nov. 5.
The trio told Yanes they respected her background as an attorney, her work on the Planning and Zoning Board and encouraged her to run for office.
But Ruano said she was concerned that the special call process was not being followed or held in the sunshine.
“This nomination is not timely,” Ruano said. “The charter says it has to happen within 30 days, subject to nomination by the council.”
Collazo said the Nov. 5 election will bring five inexperienced council members to the dais and that he wanted someone who would serve longer than 10 months.
Dieguez also said he wanted a candidate to serve for several years because newcomers will have a learning curve with municipal budgets.
Yanes spoke to the council before their vote, saying in part that special elections often have low voter turnout and don’t reflect what a majority of residents may want. She also said the winner may not be as qualified as some council members hope for.
“You don’t even know if that candidate is going to be able to have the experience or pick it up as quickly as one person or another,” Yanes said. “Not that I’m saying I will. I can’t guarantee anything. I can guarantee what everyone I have worked with personally, professionally have indicated, which is I’ll certainly do my best to give everything I have to do what’s best."
After losing the vote, Cid said, “In my book this is one of the darkest days in our town’s history” while addressing Yanes from the dais. He also questioned the “courage” of council members.
Yanes appeared at a Nov. 27 meet and greet in Town Hall. During the council meeting, 18 people including members of the Planning and Zoning Board and former Vice Mayor Jeffrey Rodriguez spoke on her behalf.
“You spent two months running around, meeting with people, bringing people to the council meeting, fighting as much as you can …,” Cid said to Yanes about her efforts to be appointed. “[The council] should have just approved a special call and gotten it over with. … On behalf of the town, I apologize.”
After that defeat, Cid made a surprise motion to appoint Yanes immediately until the next council member takes office.
While reading from the town statute, Town Attorney Raul Gastesi told him and the council, “However if the council is unable to confirm a nominee -- you have not been able to do that -- a special election to fill that vacancy shall be held no later than 90 calendar days following the occurrence of the vacancy.”
Dieguez called Cid’s motion a violation of the town charter, “as clear as day.”
Collazo said Cid’s motion “Just doesn’t sit right with me. … Bringing these zingers out and not allowing everybody to prepare is legislating on the fly. I don’t want to do something … that maybe is not proper.”
Town attorneys are researching Cid’s motion.
The council went on to vote 4 – 2 to set the qualifying date and special election date. Councilman Ray Garcia said he was not in favor of having six people on the dais and wanted to fill the seventh chair, voting with Ruano, Dieguez and Collazo for the election. Cid and Vice Mayor Tony Fernandez voted against it.
Town Clerk Gina Inguanzo’s next step will be to send the council’s resolution for a special election to Christina White, Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections, who sets voting schedules.
The qualifying period for candidates will be from noon on Feb. 5 through noon on Feb. 14. Candidates must schedule an appointment to file paperwork with Inguanzo during those dates by calling 305-364-6100 or emailing the town clerk at InguanzoG@MiamiLakes-fl.gov.
Estimated costs are $58,000, with one early voting date; $62,000 with two early voting dates and an additional $54,000 if there is a runoff election, Inguanzo told the council.
If a candidate runs unopposed, no election will be held.
The winner would be seated on the dais in May and serve until the end of Alvarez’s term in November, 2026, Inguanzo said.