Just one of the three Miami Lakes council members up for reelection this November will face a challenger.
Incumbent Councilman Ceasar Mestre will face off against Xiomara Pazos for the Seat 6 position on Nov. 4.
Councilman Tim Daubert (Seat 2) and Councilman Frank Mingo (Seat 4) were automatically reelected, as neither drew any opponents by the Aug. 6 filing deadline.
The council’s seven members, including the mayor, serve four-year terms.
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In addition to the Seat 6 race, the ballot will include three questions to voters:
▪ A non-binding straw ballot measure asking if Miami Lakes should continue to pursue an independent, town-wide ZIP Code from the United States Postal Service.
▪ A proposed charter amendment asking if each member of the Town Council, including the mayor, should have an equal number of appointments to town committees, and that appointments to committees should be subject to the approval of the council.
▪ A proposed charter amendment asking whether voters would like to amend the town’s charter to provide that annexation, consolidation or changes to the town’s boundaries will not be submitted by the town to the county, until such changes are approved by the town’s voters.
As he seeks a second term, Mestre, an attorney, says that his “experience and involvement” with the town sets him apart from his opponent.
“I’ve been involved since 2007, way before I was a council member,” Mestre said. “Every council member has come up through the committee system.”
Pazos isn’t making her first run for public office. In 2006, she lost a bid for the District 6 seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission, to Rebeca Sosa.
“I am not a politician,” said Pazos, a business owner. “I’d like to serve the town, I’d like to serve the residents with whatever they need.”
If elected, Pazos said, she would focus on code enforcement and enhancing communication between residents and town officials. She would also like to take on tasks such as extending the hours for the town’s bus service, the Miami Lakes Moover.
“Right now it [runs] in the morning and the afternoon; why not around lunchtime for two hours?” Pazos said, adding she believes extended hours for the bus system will encourage people to eat and shop at Miami Lakes businesses, and may reduce midday traffic.
Mestre cites public safety and maintenance of the town’s budget among his focuses. In addition, growing the town’s marketing strategy is a key issue, as is beautification, which he says not only attracts new businesses and residents but maintains “a certain standard” that current residents have come to expect.
“I am running for a second term because there are still things to do,” Mestre said. “I think my knowledge, experience and leadership on the council has to continue.”
During a candidate forum Wednesday afternoon, both candidates discussed their positions on various town topics such as development and capital improvements.
Mestre used the platform to highlight his accomplishments and future plans.
“I have a 4-year-old daughter and I want her to be able to experience the Miami Lakes that her sisters have experienced,” he said in his closing remarks. “You can’t say ‘I want to be in the process,’ when you don’t know the process, you don’t know the issues, you don’t know what’s going on.”
Pazos stressed that residents lack trust in their government and that she is a business person with no political ties or connections.
“I am a mom, I started my own businesses and made it successful with not much help,” she said in her closing remarks. “I will be the only female voice on the council, and I will be the voice of the people.”
Background checks of the candidates found the following:
▪ In 2005, Pazos and her company, Professional Medical Transportation, were jointly ordered to pay $65,660 to Union Planters Bank for an outstanding debt, according to court documents. Papers provided by Pazos show that the lawsuit was later settled for a reduced sum.
▪ The Florida Highway Patrol arrested Mestre in 2002 for driving under the influence and damaging property, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Mestre said the charges were later reduced to reckless driving.
As of Oct. 6, Pazos had raised about $3,166 for her campaign, while Mestre had raised about $46,800.
The entire Miami Lakes council has endorsed Mestre’s candidacy.
Early voting polls will be open between 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekend days, from Oct. 20 to Nov. 2 at the Mary Collins Community Center, 15150 NW 82nd Ave.
About the candidates
Education: Associate’s degree from Miami Dade College; bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and political science, St. Thomas University; law degree from the University of Miami.
Other: Incumbent Miami Lakes councilman; former Hialeah police officer, former chairman of Miami Lakes economic development committee; served as interim mayor following arrest of former mayor Michael Pizzi in 2013.
Occupation: Founder and CEO of Professional Medical Transportation, a Hialeah-based non-emergency transportation service
Education: Associate’s degrees from Miami Dade College.
Other: Former vice president of Serenity Pointe Homeowners Association in Miami Lakes.