Miami Lakes Vice Mayor Nelson Rodriguez has pulled double duty as a public servant in recent years: as a firefighter/paramedic and as a Miami Lakes councilman.
Both of those jobs are ending soon.
Rodriguez said he will retire from the fire service next year after three decades with the Coral Gables Fire Department and he is term-limited in November after eight years on the town council.
But Rodriguez, 53, says he’s not through with politics.
“As of now, I’m planning to run for mayor in 2024,” Rodriguez told The Miami Laker in an email.
Councilman Joshua Dieguez served with Rodriguez for two years.
“I have always known him to be a man committed to his family and who has tried to do right by our community,” said
Dieguez, an attorney. “For me, Nelson is emblematic of the spirit of public service we should strive for in our elected officials.”
Councilmembers elected Rodriguez three times as vice mayor.
He tried to take his political career to the next level but was defeated in the August GOP primary by Miramar attorney Thomas Fabricio.
Fabricio is challenging Fla. State Rep. Cindy Polo, D-Miramar in November.
Rodriguez is proud of his accomplishments in Miami Lakes, which include:
--Co-sponsored a transportation and traffic summit with state and county officials to resolve gridlock in northwest Miami-Dade County;
--Sponsored a town ordinance to ban the sale of candy flavored tobacco cigarettes;
Breanna Vergara Youth EKG Program. Breanna, 11, died from sudden cardiac arrest while in dance class.
Rodriguez remains concerned about plans to open a bridge that spans Interstate 75 between Hialeah and Miami Lakes’ northern border at Northwest 170th Street.
In October 2019, the town sued Hialeah, the county, and Lennar Corporation in an effort to halt the project; the lawsuit is pending.
Rodriguez and other council members say area road improvements must happen to ease the flow of traffic.
“Although I understand the importance of the connection between the east and west sides of I-75, there is a need to upgrade the Palmetto Expressway, Northwest 87th Avenue at the Gratigny Parkway and Palmetto underpasses,” he said.
Rodriguez said he also helped create the Imagine Miami Lakes 2025 strategic plan and assisted residents with local regulations and hastened responses to them.
He praised Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid and the council’s team approach to town government.
“Serving alongside Mayor Cid has been a privilege,” said Rodriguez. “He has always encouraged the council members to champion their ideas. “
Cid said of Rodriguez, “His love for our community is extraordinary and his commitment to serving the public was laser focused,” he said.
Councilwoman Marilyn Ruano said she met Rodriguez when they each led Parent Teacher
“Although we were at different schools, we collaborated in many ways,” said Ruano. “His desire to serve this community was evident back then and is still evident today. It has been a pleasure to serve on the council with him.”
Rodriguez has led with a servant’s heart and supported community causes, firefighters and police, Councilman Luiz Collazo said.
“He has always added balance and used his professional skill set to offer a differing perspective to some of our most contentious issues,” Collazo said.