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.
He fled with his family to Miami in 1959. Bolaños was 6.
The younger Bolaños studied in three primary public schools as his father, searching for work, moved the family around.
In his teenage years, Bolaños worked for tips at a gas station that employed his father.
After studying at what is now Miami Dade College, Bolaños earned a degree in political science at Florida International University. His rising professional career led him in 1999 to become Bellsouth’s regional director for the Hispanic market, a position he held until September 2006.
Bolaños was appointed to the school board in 2001, following the suspension of another school board member, and was elected in a subsequent special election in 2002. He ran unopposed in 2004 and resigned two years later to run for the Florida Senate.
He lost to Miami Sen. Alex Villalobos in the Republican primary.
Public records indicate that Bolaños had an income in 2011 of just over $84,000 and along with his wife has $600,000 in real estate assets: the house in which they live and two apartments they lease, all in Doral.
He works as director of the local branch of Peru’s Culinary Arts School at San Ignacio de Loyola University, which opened in Doral in 2008.
According to records, earns Bolaños $41,000 in that position.
Records also note that Bolaños earned $30,000 from consulting jobs for Leading Business Services, Inc., a corporation that his wife, Frances, started in 2006. However, this company was dissolved in September 2010.
Bolaños could not explain how that company could generate an income a year after being deactivated, saying only: “That company is deactivated and now my primary income is from San Ignacio.”
The institute was created in 2010 by former vice president of Peru, Raúl Diez Canseco.
Seven years before, Diez Canseco had been forced to resign from government amid a public scandal involving allegations he gave tax breaks to his father-in-law.
“In the end, he came out all right from that and now has a good reputation,” Bolaños said.
The rest of his income, just over $13,600, comes from consulting work for González and Sons Equipment, a Medley company that specializes in mechanical and civil engineering projects. After the Nov. 6 general election the company made a $500 contribution to one of the candidates heading to the run-off: Boria, who led the election with 41 percent of the vote versus Bolaños’ 29 percent.
“Businessmen sometimes support more than one candidate,” Bolaños said. Boria has said that he will return the check to González and Sons.