Hialeah’s political atmosphere began to heat up as the city received a registration for the first candidate to challenge the president of the present city council, Isis Garcia Martinez, in November’s elections.
John Salvador Molloy, whose work involves the custody of immigrants, registered for city council candidacy on Feb. 10, setting his sights on the seat Garcia Martinez currently holds.
“It’s time to have new blood on the council, a person who has their own way of thinking,” said Molloy in an interview with el Nuevo Herald. “In Isis’ case, what she contributes to the position is already known: She’s very close to City of Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez. She’s a person who has a lot of charisma and knows how to speak eloquently, but unfortunately, she is told what she has to do.”
The seats of three other council members are also being challenged in November’s elections: those of Lourdes Lozano, Vivian Casals Muñoz and José Caragol.
Garcia Martinez welcomed Molloy’s candidacy, remembering him as an unsuccessful City Council candidate who ran in 1997. She indicated that Molloy is also remembered for being a relative of former council member and current businessman Herman Echevarria and added that Molloy is a foreign figure within local political circles and has not participated or attended municipal sessions in several years.
“The beautiful thing about this country is that anyone can run and voice whatever it is that they want,” said Garcia Martinez, who served her first term as a councilwoman between 1991 and 1995, and ran once again in 2007 earning the spot she currently holds.
Molloy, who is 42 years old, registered for his candidacy with $1,500 paid out of pocket, according to a municipal registry in which he is identified as an agent who works in the Broward Transitional Detention Center, a privately run establishment in Pompano Beach in which undocumented immigrants are retained.
Molloy listed a series of what he believed were questionable incidents involving Hialeah’s public servants and defined himself as being in opposition to Mayor Hernandez’s government.
“When I was young child, I was taught that before speaking ill of a person, it’s better to stay quiet… but I don’t agree with the majority of the decisions made by Hernandez in Hialeah,” said Molloy. “Hialeah is worse now that it’s been in many years.”
Among other criticisms noted by Molloy was the million-dollar water treatment facility that despite having been inaugurated in November 2013, has not yet began to operate. He also said that Hialeah faced a deficit in the number of police officers on the force, something he says puts the security of Hialeah’s citizens at risk.
When asked about those topics, Hernandez said that he would not answer to allegations made by a person who is suddenly seeking to attract public attention.
“Now is when all the ghosts, all the lost people, all those crazies who want their 15 minutes of fame within the time frame of the elections, start to come out, and that makes me laugh,” Hernandez said. “I’m not going to start responding to any of these crazies, to any of these people who don’t participate in local politics for years… My job is to find a way to make my municipal government more efficient.”
In regards to the allegation of a reduction of police officers, Hernandez recognized that there are vacant positions in the city’s police department but emphasized that they uphold the same assigned budget. Carl Zogby, City of Hialeah Police Department spokesman, said that the department currently employs 283 working police officers.
Molloy said that Hialeah Police has morphed into a school of sorts for officers who serve in the department for a few years and later seek work in other departments.
If Molloy nabs a seat on the City Council, he said one of his priorities will include working to achieve municipal transparency. He plans to televise City Council sessions through government-run Channel 77, a local channel whose operations are in full swing.
“Council members shouldn’t be ashamed of transparency or fear the diffusion of any decisions they make on the council,” Molloy said. “Unfortunately, there’s a council which does everything the Mayor says… Many times, council members don’t vote based on their own criteria and instead vote in a way that favors the mayor, and that’s something that the public has to know.”
Follow Enrique Flor on Twitter @kikeflor