From Miami-Dade Commissioner Esteban Bovo, Jr. and Miami-Dade School Board Chair Perla Hantman, to original councilmembers Mary Collins, Robert Meador and Nancy Simon, dignitaries and residents packed the Government Center’s council chambers to witness the swearing-in ceremony for returning Miami Lakes Mayor Wayne Slaton and new Councilmember Frank Mingo.
Before the start of the October 8 regular Town Council meeting, Town Clerk Majorie Tejeda swore in Slaton, flanked by his wife Margaret and 18-year-old daughter Grace.
After he took the Oath of Office, Slaton got a standing ovation that reached a crescendo when Councilmember Ceasar Mestre, who acted as mayor following the arrest of Michael Pizzi, turned over the same gavel the town used since incorporation to Miami Lakes’ first mayor.
“This gavel is 13 years-old and it has seen some good days and bad days,” Slaton said while holding the ceremonial mallet. “We even used it to put up pictures in the original town hall on Main Street, the second town hall on Ludlam Road, on the west side town hall and now the new town hall building. This gavel goes way back.”
Slaton, looking out in the audience, took a deep breath and said, “It’s so nice to be back. You all are so wonderful. I see a lot of familiar and friendly faces at Town Hall and residents here tonight. You all brought me back. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be here.”
Slaton, 61, thanked his entire family, friends and residents for their stupendous support in electing him mayor again.
“It’s sweeter the second time around,” Slaton said. In his new office at Town Hall, Slaton said he posted a picture of the original Town Council and Miami Lakes’ first Town Manager Merritt Steirheim to remind him how far the city has come.
“It’s true, I’m all about history and the roots of this town,” he said.
Slaton, an electrical contractor, was elated that Town Manager Alex Rey informed him there is ample money in the budget to create another 5-year-Strategic Plan, which he called the residents’ vision for Miami Lakes’ future.
The plan was the gist of his political platform that helped him get elected over former Councilmember Nelson Hernandez, Dr. David Bennett, Luis Espinosa and Edwin Romero during the October 1 special election, as Slaton won nearly all the precincts with 48 percent of the votes.
“We are going to reach back out to the community and get the residents more involved in the 5-year Strategic Plan,” he said. “The plan will include what we have now and what can we do well in the future. We are going to get right down to business.”
Slaton will serve out the rest of Pizzi’s term, who was arrested in August on public corruption charges and subsequently suspended from office by Governor Rick Scott. Mingo, whose wife, Carmenchu, stood by his side when he took the Oath of Office, expressed gratitude to his supporters as well for helping him win Seat 4, which Hernandez vacated to run for mayor. “It’s a privilege not to be taken lightly and I am committed to working with the existing council and mayor,” said Mingo, 53, while speaking from the dais.
“I will work to move Miami Lakes forward and work for the best interests of the town and residents.” The supply chain manager for Oliva Cigar Corporation defeated attorney Lorenzo Cobiella and real estate agent Star Rodriguez and will serve out the rest of Hernandez’ term, which expires next year.
Mingo and Cobiella went neck-and-neck with the latter candidate winning three of the seven precincts. Former councilmembers, who served with Slaton during his first two-terms, and former candidates were all glad that he’s back at the helm, indicating the previous mayor ran roughshod over the Town Council and residents.
“Good to have you back for your leadership and I know you all will get along well rather you agree or to disagree,” said Simon, who was an original councilmember from 2001-2010. “Now that you are back, I will be here because it won’t be painful.”
Bennett, a community activist, gave the Town Council a gift: A brand new copy of the 11th edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, which governs how government meetings are run.
“I want to give this to the Council to remind everyone we do live by rules,” Bennett said.