The makeup of the Miami Lakes town council was mostly decided during the November general election as voters reelected two council members and chose one newcomer, but the mayor’s race remains undecided and will be settled with a runoff election.
The two candidates are familiar to town residents, as Mayor Michael Pizzi, 53, is trying to keep his seat against Councilman Manny Cid, 33. Cid received about 46 percent of the vote in the Nov. 8 election while Pizzi got about 31 percent.
Pizzi said he thought the presidential election might have distracted voters at the polls and he looks forward to focusing solely on the town.
“I’m confident that when we focus on Miami Lakes and what I’ve accomplished as mayor, people are going to support me,” Pizzi said.
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The mayor has has been in the spotlight since 2013, when he was indicted on charges of accepting more than $6,000 in illegal money and campaign funds during an undercover FBI investigation. He was removed from office in August 2013 but was acquitted of all charges about a year later. He made his way back to the dais in April 2015.
His return, which came after lawsuits against Gov. Rick Scott and the town of Miami Lakes, has cost the city about $1 million in legal fees. The mayor and the town are also in the middle of a lawsuit over an additional $2.25 million owed to Pizzi’s legal team. Pizzi decided to delay action on the suit for six months and said he hopes to use some of the town’s $5 million insurance policy to take care of the costs.
He said he was encouraged by the support he received despite Cid receiving donations from “special interests” and raising about $21,000 more than Pizzi in campaign contributions. Pizzi also criticized attack ads against him that were mailed out by a Jensen Beach-based political action committee, Leadership for Florida’s Future.
Cid has previously denied those allegations and said that his donations came from supportive residents. His campaign has focused its message on his roots in the town, where he’s lived since he was 8, and building for future generations. He has served on the Town Council since 2012. Cid received an endorsement from former mayor Wayne Slaton, who finished third in the Nov. 8 election.
“My campaign represents the future and 70 percent of the town’s voters showed they want to move forward,” Cid said.
Early voting for the runoff election will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 19 and 20, at the Mary Collins Community Center, 15151 NW 82nd Ave. The runoff election day is Nov. 29.