Future candidates can now run for any seat on the Miami Lakes Town Council no matter where they live. Local registered voters eliminated residential district council seats in favor of all at-large seats during a June 25 special mail-in ballot election, which drew a relatively low voter turnout.
According to the Miami-Dade Elections Department, among the 17,504 registered voters in the town, which encompasses 6.5 square miles, only 2,517 (14 percent) cast their ballots, as 1,372 (54.86 percent) approved the charter change, while 1,129 (45.14 percent) voted to keep the original residential district seats intact.
Since incorporation in 2000, the original town charter called for two at-large council seats, but now candidates can run for any of the four-term council seats they choose starting in the next election scheduled for Tuesday, November 4, 2014.
Council seats 1 through 4 will remain the same and residents will have to pick which seat they will run for, said Miami Lakes Town Manager Alex Rey.
Vice Mayor Ceasar Mestre (at-large Seat 6), and councilmembers Tim Daubert (Seat 2), and Nelson Hernandez (Seat 4), are up for reelection next year.
In February, councilmembers approved the referendum to allow voters to decide whether to amend the charter because they can already vote for candidates in each of the residential district races, a provision created under the original town charter by the Miami Lakes Charter Committee.
In 2006, residents shot down a similar proposal for all at-large seats and downsizing the council from seven to five members, based on the recommendation of the then-Miami Lakes Charter Revision Committee.
Some residents were concerned over all at-large seats because some areas might not have any representation on the council and their neighborhood issues would go ignored.
The all at-large seats charter amendment is the third charter change for Miami Lakes in three years.
In 2012, voters overwhelmingly approved switching the town’s October original election date to November for a bigger voter turnout, and in 2010, voters embraced term limits for lawmakers.