Lago bought the home in 2011 for $405,000, property records show. He said he has been repairing mold and electrical problems that were discovered upon inspection. He, his wife and 11/2-year-old daughter have been living with his wife’s parents at their home on Alhambra Circle. Prior to their San Amaro purchase, the Lagos had been living in a condo on Edgewater Drive in Coral Gables.
“Why did he try to establish an address at a home that was vacant?” Hancock said in an e-mail.
Hancock said Friday he is finalizing a lawsuit contending that Lago improperly filed paperwork with the city clerk when he registered to run for office last March. A candidate has to live in the city a year before the election date and show proof of residency to qualify, which often includes submitting a utility bill. Lago provided his garbage collection bill from the city, listing his San Amaro address.
“For qualifying, Lago provided proof of residency for a house that has been demonstrably not his residence for a qualifying period. It is a vacant house,’’ Hancock said.
Lago says he is the owner of the house.
Hancock and others also have noted that Lago applied for the homestead exemption on the San Amaro property, even though he wasn’t living there. Lago said he intended to move into the home immediately but discovered the mold problem was deeper than realized, requiring more costly and lengthy repairs.
“I live three blocks away from my home, which is under construction. I said that in both debates,” Lago said. “I’m not going to do a negative campaign.”
The Miami-Dade County Office of the Property Appraiser would not discuss the matter on Friday, citing the upcoming election.
Lago, meanwhile, is frustrated by the campaign’s negative tone.
“We’re not concentrating on what’s important — pension reform, Streetscape, delivering a senior center, quality of life,’’ Lago said. “Put out your platform to residents, explain yourself, tell them what your vision for the city is, and let them decide.”
The negative tone has spilled over to the Group 3 race. Five people are running for the seat held by Anderson: Jackson Rip Holmes, Pat Keon, P.J. Mitchell, Norman “Tony’’ Newell and Mary Young.
Mitchell has contended that Newell may not have lived in the city for at least a year prior to the election, noting that he had registered to vote in Coral Gables in January, four months before the election.
Newell had been registered to vote in South Miami. He said he maintained that registration because he and his parents would go to the polls together and vote.
“When I was going to run I realized I had to register in the Gables — reluctantly — because my parents are getting up there in years and if I had it my way, I’d vote where I grew up. It was tradition, we took it seriously, something I like to do. They vote absentee now so that tradition went by the wayside,” Newell said.
Newell said he provided documentation to the city and the county showing he has resided in the Gables since 2008. The Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust concluded that Newell had successfully proved he resided at the address listed on his qualifiying papers, an apartment on Merrick Way.
Despite the conflict between Mitchell and Newell, Keon said she feels the campaign for the Group 3 seat has been more collegial than the other races, particularly the mayor’s.
“The mayor’s race is combative,’’ she said. “We’ll see who that helps and who that hurts.”
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