Doral mayor strikes conciliatory tone in ‘State of the City’ speech

In his first ‘State of the City’ speech on Wednesday, Doral Mayor Luigi Boria extended an olive branch to the city manager, with whom he has had a series of public confrontations in recent months.

“It’s time to move on,” Boria said in his brief speech Dec. 4. “I know that Doral residents have not liked the recent discord.”

Despite being a growing city with a generous reserve fund, low unemployment rate and new projects in line, Doral has captured headlines lately due to the feud between Boria and the city manager he himself appointed, Joe Carollo.

But on Wednesday, Boria said that he is determined to promote a spirit of cooperation and asked Carollo to do the same.

“I wrote you a letter recently, Mr. Carollo, and the intent of that letter was to recognize the excellent job you have done and will continue to do,” Boria said, addressing his words directly to the manager in the first part of his speech. “We must turn the page and move on.”

The last 12 months have not been easy for Boria, a Venezuelan-born entrepreneur and Christian pastor who financed his own campaign in 2012.

Under Doral’s system of government, the mayor recommends the city manager to the City Council, which makes the final decision on whom to appoint. Once the manager is appointed, he is City Hall’s chief executive. Only the City Council, of which the mayor is chairman, can remove the city manager.

Boria has no allies on the City Council. He fell under public scrutiny in the summer after El Nuevo Herald revealed that he had given millions of dollars to his children for a real estate project in the city despite having previously assured that he was not linked to the project.

Yet the most painful blow to Boria has been the news in recent weeks that a group of Venezuelan entrepreneurs living in Doral are considering the possibility of launching a recall campaign against him because they are disappointed in his performance.

In the speech, Boria made reference to a series of polls, without giving any details, which show that residents “do not wish this dispute to continue.”

Carollo said he has always been willing to work with the mayor.

“We don’t have to be friends to act as professionals,” said Carollo, who acknowledged having received Boria’s recent letter asking for peace.

Dozens of residents, religious leaders and other public figures, attended the “State of the City” event, including former councilman Pete Cabrera, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year.

As part of his presentation, the mayor showed a video highlighting the city’s accomplishments during last year, from community fairs and park improvements to the expansion of Doral’s main streets.

After the speech, council members said they were pleased by the mayor’s words.

“Let’s hope the other side [Carollo] picks the olive branch because we need to move on for the sake of the city,” said Vice Mayor Christi Fraga. “They have to put aside their personal differences.”

Councilwoman Ana María Rodríguez said she was surprised and encouraged by the mayor’s words and that she hopes that the spirit of reconciliation remains at City Hall after the Christmas season.

“I hope the mayor’s words came from the heart and that his actions will follow those words,” she said.

Councilwoman Bettina Rodríguez Aguilera congratulated the mayor for his effort to find unity.

“Now he has to deliver because the city’s residents and businesses deserve better than what they’ve seen so far,” she said.

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