Frank Bolaños says the first thing he will do if elected mayor of Doral will be to stand in front of Ronald Reagan High with the chief of police to deliver a stern message to the community: his commitment to protect the students from drugs.
Bolaños, 59 and a former chairman of the Miami-Dade School Board, says he would make funding of drug-prevention programs a priority for Doral’s schools, including in Reagan High — which despite earning an “A” ranking for academics was the subject of parental outcry over news reports that drugs were sold and used in the suburban neighborhood around the school.
In June, a student who had been recently expelled from the school was found dead together with another young man, both presumably intoxicated, in a swamp near the city.
“I want to be the education mayor,” Bolaños told El Nuevo Herald on Wednesday after a tour through schools and neighborhoods.
Bolaños faces businessman and minister Luigi Boria in the Tuesday runoff that will decide the next mayor of Doral — a relatively young city that has had only one mayor since is incorporation less than a decade ago.
Although he faces a well-funded opponent who led the general election with 41 percent of the vote, Bolaños points out that he has the endorsement of Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez, whose administration has sought to turn the once non-descript collection of northwest Miami-Dade neighborhoods into a city proper, complete with a bevy of new parks, downtown district and a multi-million dollar city hall.
“My campaign is relatively poor compared to Boria’s,” said Bolaños, who took 29 percent of the general vote Nov. 6 and whose campaign has raised nearly $160,000 compared to Boria’s, $494,000 — with all but $105,000 was self-financed by the wealthy entrepreneur. “But mine has the support of Mayor Bermúdez, who recognizes that I am a person with principles and values.”
Bermúdez has said that he decided to support Bolaños because “he is the more capable candidate” and is committed to continue the progress made in the last nine years.
Bolaños was surprised he did not nab the endorsement of one-time rival Pete Cabrera, a former councilman who came in third in the general election.
Cabrera recently endorsed Boria — although Bolaños said Cabrera had promise to endorse him.
“He had promised me on three occasions that he would endorse me,” said Bolaños, who said that they had both agreed that if one of them was out of the race, the other would throw his support for the remaining candidate in the runoff.
Bolaños said he lost Cabrera’s endorsement because he wouldn’t promise to fire the city manager and chief of police, who have had well-publicized rifts with Cabrera in the past — a notion both Cabrera and Boria have scoffed at.
“All that is a lie,” said Cabrera, who said while he did discuss endorsements with Bolaños, he did not make any concrete promises. “No firings of anybody were ever asked.”
The Bolaños family is no stranger to politics.
His father, Javier Héctor Bolaños Pacheco, was once the leader of a Cuban workers movement who criticized the Castro revolution in its early days.