Special Election set for Oct. 1

Community By David L. Snelling, The Miami Laker staff Friday, September 6, 2013

The Town of Miami Lakes has scheduled a special election to select a new mayor following the arrest of Michael Pizzi on a charge of public corruption last month as part of an FBI sting. 

 At a special meeting in August, acting Mayor Ceasar Mestre and councilmembers unanimously voted for the October 1 special election, which was the only date Miami-Dade Elections Department offered that wouldn’t violate the town’s charter. 

 According to the charter document which created the 6.5 square-mile town, if an elected official is removed from office with 6 months or more remaining on his/her term, a special election must be held within 90 days. Had the election been conducted during November’s Gubernatorial race, Miami Lakes would have violated its own charter by two days. 

Qualifying period for the special election started on Monday, August 26 and concluded on Friday, August 30. Any sitting councilmember who plans to run for mayor had to resign their post 10 days before the qualifying period started, which is effective the date of the special election. 

Councilmember Nelson Hernandez resigned last month to run for the mayoral seat and three candidates – Frank Mingo, Lorenzo Cobiella and Star Rodriguez are seeking his vacant seat. According to Town Manager Alex Rey, the town’s stand alone election will cost about $52,000, in addition to $3,200 for the one day of early voting on September 28. 

He said the town will pay for the election-related costs in next fiscal year’s budget. Also during the special meeting, lawmakers rescinded a contract with Citrin Financial for health insurance and awarded the agreement to A and A Insurance Incorporated. 

Councilmember Nelson Rodriguez suggested the move because he learned representatives of the latter company weren’t allowed to speak when the original contract was granted during a regular town council meeting. It was believed suspended Mayor Michael Pizzi, who was arrested on public corruption charges last month, pre-selected Citrin before the vote occurred and did not give A and A an opportunity to address lawmakers on the type of insurance service it can offer Miami Lakes.

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