Doral incumbents may be unchallenged; one potential candidate’s status unclear

07/24/2014 5:34 PM

07/25/2014 11:24 AM

Incumbents in this year’s election in Doral may go completely unchallenged.

Councilwoman Ana María Rodríguez was automatically reelected to Seat 4 this week after no one filed to run against her during the qualifying period, which ended Tuesday. For Seat 2, Councilwoman Bettina Rodríguez-Aguilera could have a challenger in former councilman Pete Cabrera, but issues with his campaign account at his bank could leave him out of the race.

In an email sent to City Attorney Dan Espino on Thursday afternoon, City Clerk Barbara Herrera asked for a legal opinion on Cabrera’s qualification status because Cabrera’s bank, Wells Fargo, closed his political campaign account because of “an error by [the] branch due to profile encoding error.”

The bank had closed his account on the same day he qualified, July 21 — the day before the end of of qualifying. Cabrera opened a new account and submitted three new checks to cover the qualifying fees.

“Because this occurred after the end of the qualifying period, and in an effort to ensure that I am complying with my responsibilities as the qualifying officer / Supervisor of Elections for the City, I met with you to further discuss this matter and whether it may have any effect on Mr. Cabrera’s qualification status,” Herrera wrote.

In an email Thursday, Espino said he is still preparing an opinion and did not wish to comment until it is delivered to the city.

The situation resembles a Miami Beach publicist’s fight to reinstate her candidacy in Florida House District 113 race. In that case, political newcomer Laura Rivero Levey submitted a check to the Department of State that bounced because of a bank error. By that time, qualifying had ended. Levey is suing Secretary of State Ken Detzner over the matter.

Herrera referenced the case in her request for an opinion.

“Is the matter previously described as it relates to Mr. Cabrera a disqualifying event?” she asked.

Cabrera said Thursday he had qualified with no issues.

“I qualified Monday, no disqualifying event has occurred nor have I been notified by the City of anything so I am uncertain of what you are referring to when you say ‘Undetermined Qualification Status,’ ’’ he said Thursday evening.

Council seats in Doral are elected by seat, where voters can choose one candidate for each seat.

In case a vote is needed, residents have until Oct. 6 to register to vote. Election day is Nov. 4.

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