Six candidates seek elected offices in Miami Lakes

Government By Alexandra Herrera, Reporter Wednesday, July 3, 2024

     Four candidates are seeking to serve on the Miami Lakes town council where two incumbent officials -- Vice Mayor Tony Fernandez and Councilman Josh Dieguez -- want to become the next mayor.

     Mario O. Pinera Jr. and Angelo Cuadra Garcia, who was an unsuccessful council candidate in 2022, are vying for Seat 1. Juan Carlos Fernandez was unopposed as of June 28 as he runs for Seat 3, as is Steven Herzberg, unchallenged for Seat 5.  

     Candidates filled out questionnaires and their responses are published in full on      

     On a date to be announced, Town Clerk Gina Inguanzo will host a forum for the public to hear the candidates discuss their platforms.  

In the mayoral race, Tony Fernandez, 38, is founder and chief executive officer of IT services firm Layer 8 Solutions and is finishing up his first term. He was elected to the dais in 2020 and chosen by the council to be vice mayor for a year. 

     Dieguez, 35, is a lawyer and co-owner of his family firm Dieguez & Associates, PLLC. He was re-elected to the council in 2022 and his term ends in 2026. He will have to resign at least 10 days before the candidates’ qualifying period begins on July 29. 

     The aspiring council members are: 

--Pinera Jr., 44. He is the chief operating officer for MOP Foreign Cars, his family’s business. 

--Cuadra Garcia, 63, is a road and bridge supervisor for the Florida Department of Transportation. 

--Herzberg, 34, is an attorney and partner at Vazquez & Associates.   

--Juan Carlos Fernandez, 52 is a Realtor at Keller Williams Realty where he a part owner of the franchise. He chairs the town’s Planning & Zoning Board and will have to step down to run for public office. 

     Pinera Jr. (Chair, Education Advisory Board; member, Neighborhood Improvement Committee), Cuadra Garcia (Blasting Advisory Board) and Herzberg (Blasting Advisory Board) will all have to resign from their respective volunteer activities to qualify as office seekers.

     The candidate qualifying period begins July 29 and ends Aug. 7. If no other candidates qualify to oppose Juan Carlos Fernandez or Herzberg, they will win their seats without having to campaign until Election Day on Nov. 5. 

Top Issues     

     Candidates said these issues are most important, in order of most mentioned: traffic; blasting; taxes; public safety, beautification and code compliance. Tony Fernandez also listed keeping town administration accountable and ensuring efficient spending of tax dollars.


     Dieguez said he had backing from Council members Luis Collazo, Bryan Morera and Marilyn Ruano; seven former vice mayors; former Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas and Miami-Dade Councilman Sen. Rene Garcia.

     Tony Fernandez reported backing from Mayor Manny Cid, Councilman Ray Garcia and two former vice mayors.

     Juan Carlos Fernandez said Cid backed him, too, and also listed Tony Fernandez, Dieguez, Rene Garcia and Councilmen Ray Garcia and Morera.        

     Pinera Jr. said Councilman Ray Garcia and Tony Fernandez endorsed him.


     The candidates’ solutions include co-existence with miners; regional alliances; lobbying, legislation and litigation.  


     Most said implementing the rollback rate for property taxes was correct, and that financial conditions should determine future use.

Creating a Municipal Police Force

     All are against creating one, though Dieguez and Tony Fernandez want to study start-up costs.

Optimist Park

     The candidates seem opposed to issuing municipal bonds or new taxes to pay for improvements. The common suggestions were to get grants, sponsors and share costs with the Miami-Dade County School Board.


     Town offices are nonpartisan. The candidates all said they could make decisions independent of political influences or their party.