Voters choose two incumbents, newcomer for town council

Government By Alexandra Herrera, Reporter Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Miami Lakes voters returned two incumbent councilmen to the dais Tuesday night and chose a familiar newcomer who lost in the last election but campaigned hard to win residents over.

Carlos Alvarez and Josh Dieguez were re-elected to the town council and Ray Garcia earned a spot on the dais for the first time.

Garcia won Seat 2 overwhelmingly. He got 63.5% of the vote and topped William Perez (29.3%) and Ian Medina (7.2%).

For Seat 4, Dieguez was re-elected with 63.2% of the vote to beat Miguel Comesana III (36.8%).

And for Seat 6, Alvarez was re-elected in another runaway, his 66.4% of the vote basically doubling the 33.6% ballots collected by Angelo Garcia.

Dieguez was the only winner who could be reached on election night. He was celebrating at Chela's Cocteleria with family and friends. 

“I just want to thank [voters] for putting their trust in me,” Dieguez said. “I think that this was a referendum about the last four years. That’s why they wanted to keep going forward with the team that exists, that’s why they re-elected Councilman [Carlos] Alvarez and why they went with Ray Garcia, who has been tied to the mayor very closely.

“I think people are generally happy with where we’re going,” Dieguez said. “While there may be some things they want to change, they’re happy with the direction of stuff.”

 Certification of election results could happen within the next two weeks, said Miami Lakes Town Clerk Gina Inguanzo, who is also the town’s supervisor of elections.

Councilwoman Marilyn Ruano predicted that the council, with just one new member, will collaborate on behalf of residents.

A special call meeting is yet to be set to swear in Garcia and allow the council to choose its vice mayor and approve next year’s meeting schedule.

“The good thing is when these elections are over, they’re over,” Ruano said. “We all have to sit on the dais and work for the community and I’m sure that we will. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again.”


Garcia, 49, a health insurance licensed agent, defeated Perez, 58, an attorney and retired U.S. Marine colonel and Medina, 29, a lawyer, to win Seat 2.

Garcia will replace Vice Mayor Jeffrey Rodriguez, an attorney who wanted to spend more time with his family and declined to seek office again after serving one term.

Garcia was the best-known of the three candidates who agreed on many issues during their campaigns, but the biggest divide was the proposed bond offering to fund a redesign of Miami Lakes Optimist Park.

Garcia supported the now-defeated $19.5 million overhaul of the green space saying, “Our central park is rotting from the inside,” but that didn’t cost him his race.

Medina was also in favor of overhauling the park, which has dilapidated dugouts and often flooded fields, to enable children to play in it like he did when he was a child.

Perez was outspoken in not supporting the bond and said the town should seek grants and not burden property owners with a tax increase.

The three also touched on traffic issues, a huge discussion topic in town before and after the Northwest 170th Street bridge opened earlier this summer.

Garcia had previously said that the town was “bullied” into opening the bridge and that the town made a mistake in not annexing the area originally. But ultimately Garcia said he would have voted for the compromise that was reached.

Perez did not agree with opening the bridge and felt that Mayor Manny Cid blindsided the town and the council by appearing at a press conference with dealmakers from Hialeah and Miami-Dade County before documents had been signed.

Finally, Medina said he would have pushed to put a Sun Pass-type toll installed and charge out-of-towners $2 to pass through town and discourage drivers.

Safety in town has been a huge factor; the council approved $100,000 for overtime police patrols in the new budget for 2023 – to pay for traffic enforcement and target car burglaries.

Garcia said he would like to see Ring doorbells used and encourage residents to report crime via the town’s app.

Perez would have opted for more motion detection lights in parks and Medina, like Garcia, wanted more citizen involvement and to use surveillance cameras in parking lots.


Dieguez, 33, a lawyer won his second term by beating Comesana III, 29, a case manager at a personal injury law firm, faced off for the seat.

It was a double-victory night for Dieguez, who also was not in favor of the bond proposal.

Comesana agreed on that front, saying it wasn’t the right time during an inflationary period to raise property taxes to pay back the bond debt.

About the bridges, Dieguez said opening the northern span at Northwest 170th Street was the only agreement that the town could make at the time and that Hialeah got the better deal on the bridge; that city and county wanted it open to serve thousands of residents in new housing developments on the west side of Interstate 75.

He also commented on the Cid’s involvement in announcing the bridge opening during a radio show that was broadcast from the bridge.

He said that the council was surprised and confused and felt that Cid should have let them know beforehand.

Comesana said he would have voted to keep the bridge closed.

Both differed on safety and security with Dieguez. The incumbent supported Miami-Dade Police Maj. Javier Ruiz’s request for an additional $100,000 in his budget to enforce speeding laws and catch auto burglars, and he didn’t agree with hiring more cops due to the $160,000 salary cost per officer.

Comesana suggested LED lights could help to deter thefts.


Alvarez is returning to the dais, the 45-year-old charter high school principal getting another chance to, as he said in his campaign, leave Miami Lakes better than he found it.

Angelo Garcia, 60, a safety technician, was outspoken about Alvarez’s performance on the council and his absences from the dais, caused by travel with his job.

The pair had starkly different views on what would be best for the town’s future.

Garcia was against the Optimist Park plan. Alvarez was one of the park plan’s top supporters.

Voters agreed with Garcia on the park, but that was evidently not enough to unseat Alvarez.

Garcia called bond revenues “bling bling money” and said that millions of dollars were not needed to fix drainage issues in the 31-acre green space.

Alvarez disagreed and called the park’s repairs a quality-of-life issue. He said he was in favor of letting the voters decide if they wanted property taxes to rise and pay off the 30-year bonds, and they did not.

Alvarez did not vote on the agreement between the town, Hialeah and Miami-Dade County to open the Northwest 170th Street bridge. The board of the charter school he leads -- The City of Hialeah Educational Academy -- is comprised of Hialeah city council members.

Alvarez sought an opinion from the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust which found that he had a conflict so he abstained.

Garcia has said he would have voted to keep the bridge closed and vowed to fight to keep the Northwest 154th Street bridge closed.

The southern span could open if certain road improvements are made, including ramps on and off I-75 and the extension of Northwest 97th Avenue to meet the Turnpike.

As far as police funding, the rivals seemed to agree. Alvarez said he would have liked to have seen more officers hired but was content with the $100,000 increase for overtime. Garcia said he would have listened to the advice of police on the matter.