Business group planning opinion poll on Doral mayor

The representative of a group of business people and activists in Doral said Tuesday that they are close to selecting a company that will carry out a poll on the approval rates of Mayor Luigi Boria and his possible replacements.

Carlos Pereira, president of the Venezuelan-American Democratic Club, said that the company will be selected from among three Florida polling firms and that the cost, from $7,000 to $25,000, will be paid by the group.

“We are concerned about credibility, and want to know who will do it better,” said Pereira. “We’re interested in knowing the truth.”

Reports in November said that a group of business people was evaluating the possibility of launching a recall campaign against Boria, in case a public opinion poll showed a high level of disapproval for the Doral mayor.

Boria at the time said he would defend himself by all means possible and if necessary would spend $1 million “from his own pocket.” He also said that a political action committee to support him already had been established.

On Tuesday, Boria declined to comment on the issue.

Although two members of the group have said publicly that they would launch the recall campaign if Boria’s disapproval rate turns out to be high, Pereira said Tuesday that decision would depend on the person shown by the poll to be the preferred candidate to replace Boria as mayor.

“The mayor should be the person best qualified to occupy the post,” said Pereira. “Someone who can reconcile and work with all sectors to achieve the good management of the city … Someone who does not have conflicts of interests with the city and who has more of a sense of community service.”

Doral fell into a political crisis midway through 2013, after El Nuevo Herald revealed that Boria had financed half of a multi-million dollar real estate project pushed by his sons and another Doral businessman. During his mayoral campaign in November of 2012, Boria had denied any ties to his sons’ business.

Shortly afterward, Boria sparked a bitter clash with City Manager Joe Carollo, who had been one of the mayor’s strongest backers during that campaign.

Pereira said on Tuesday that his group also is interested in supporting candidacies for the City Council in the November elections. But the group only recently has started the search for potential candidates, he added.

Council members Ana Maria Rodriguez and Bettina Rodriguez-Aguilera, who have supported former mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez, are expected to seek re-election.

The two businessmen who were identified in November as members of the group behind the initiative are Tomas Romero, owner of an aeronautical company, and Henry Contreras, one of the principal investors in Hotel Aloft in western Doral.

Neither returned El Nuevo Herald phone calls Tuesday seeking comment on the latest developments.

Romero, a key organizer of the massive shuttle of Venezuelans to New Orleans to vote in that country’s presidential election in April of 2013, said in November that he joined the group because of a lack of leadership at the mayor’s office.

Shortly after that initiative became public, Contreras met with Boria at The Wise Computer, the computer equipment company that Boria owns in Doral. They were photographed during the meeting, and the photo was published on the social networks.

Pereira said at the time that Contreras had met with Boria without consulting other members of the group, made up of investors from different countries, including Venezuela, Colombia Cuba and Argentina.

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