Sweetwater residents have until Friday to apply for a vacant City Commission seart.
The commission is accepting resumes until Friday at City Hall, 500 SW 109th Ave.
The commission has 90 days from the creation of the vacancy to fill it.
The seat was left vacant after Jose Diaz was sworn in as mayor on Aug. 12. Diaz replaced Manny Maroño, who was arrested by the FBI on bribery charges and suspended by Gov. Rick Scott last month. Jose Bergouignan Jr. became Vice-Mayor.
Maroño is accused with lobbyist Jorge Forte of accepting about $60,000 in bribes from FBI undercover agents who posed as representatives of a Chicago-based company specialized in obtaining federal subsidies for small municipalities. The FBI created the fake company, Sunshine Universal, as bait to catch corrupt mayors, according to federal documents.
Also arrested for receiving bribes were former Miami Lakes mayor Michael Pizzi, lobbyist Richard Candía and Forte.
On Sept. 9, commissioners were expected to appoint someone to the seat, but voted to postpone action. Commissioner Manuel Duasso was absent.
To qualify, residents must have lived in the city for two years and be a registered voter. There also will be a background check conducted. Bergouignan suggested the background check because of the recent turmoil the city has faced. The commission agreed with him. He said it is a great way of displaying transparency.
“It’s being implanted because of extra precaution and accusations of people in the media saying we are being totally unfair,” he said.
City Clerk Marie O. "Val" Schmidt said there have been six resumes submitted as of Monday.
“There is no requirement in the charter for a background check of candidates,” she wrote in an email. “The candidate must submit a notarized affidavit swearing that he or she possesses the necessary requirements for the position.”
Former candidate Deborah Centeno said in a past meeting Sweetwater should host an election instead of appointing a commissioner. But the city charter calls for appointment by commissioners. Bergouignan added that the commission is just following the rules and that an election would be costly.
“That’s what the city charter requires to begin with,” he said. “We’ve all been elected. We’ve been here a long time and participated in a lot of things not just being a commissioner.”
In the September 9 meeting, Centeno said the public “had lost the commission’s trust” and should leave it to the residents as for electing a commissioner. But Bergouignan said he thinks otherwise.
“Various people have ran before and what they do is they get angry or they think it’s their turn,” he said. “If the person meets the qualification or the things am looking for and of the city then am all for it.”
Bergouignan said he has had some phone calls and text messages asking to be considered for the job. He also added that he had two people in mind, but wouldn’t reveal their names because he felt it wasn’t right.
“I don’t think that’s appropriate,” he said. “That leads to bias.”
Other commissioners have also kept mum on endorsing anyone, except Commissioner Prisca Barreto who has gone on the record supporting former commissioner Cecillia Holtz-Alonso.
Although Sweetwater has been making headlines for the wrong reasons, Bergouignan said there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
“It’s tough,” he said. “We want to see where the chips fall. People judge and don’t know what they are talking about. I am always positive. I always look at it as it’s going to be better no matter what it is.”
A date has not been set for a meeting where commissioners would appoint someone to the vacant seat.