Voters in El Portal are going to the polls Nov. 8 to fill one village council seat.
Newcomer Vimari Roman hopes to unseat incumbent councilperson Aubrey Brunson Sr., a retired law enforcement officer who has served on the council for one term.
Three incumbents — the mayor, the vice mayor and the councilperson for the village’s Seat 4 — automatically won after no one filed to run against them. A fourth incumbent, current councilwoman Roxanne Isaacs, decided not to run for re-election, freeing up her seat for newcomer Werner Dreher.
In the race for Seat 2, Roman, 39, said she would bring her experience as the chair of the mayor’s task force and as a business owner to the council.
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Roman became the head of the mayor’s task force in December 2014 and helped plan community events, including the El Portal art fair and a monthly food truck night. She has worked in sales and marketing for Miami hotels and currently runs a business that plans meetings and events for corporations.
If elected to the council, Roman said she plans to work to alleviate traffic problems in El Portal, where she says drivers passing through frequently speed in residential neighborhoods.
“I’m committed to the community, and I’m definitely dedicated to the progress of this community, which is why I’m running,” Roman said.
Brunson, 53, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Brunson was elected in 2014 and has lived in the village for over 25 years.
Both Roman and Brunson have faced personal financial management issues, according to public records. Roman filed for bankruptcy in 2009, and liens have been placed on property owned by Brunson because of unpaid bills.
Dreher, 41, the newcomer replacing Isaacs on the council, is an industrial and systems engineer who works for MasterCard. He said he plans to focus on the village’s plan to install drainage tunnels and on addressing the speeding problem.
Mayor Claudia Cubillos was first elected as mayor in 2014 but had previously served on the village council since 2008. She owns Ms. Claudia’s Village Academy preschool in El Portal and has lived in the village for nine years.
Vice Mayor Omarr C. Nickerson was first elected to the council in 2008. Nickerson is a lecturer and also works with struggling high schools in Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
Councilperson Harold Mathis will continue to hold Seat 4. Mathis joined the council for the first time in 2005 and served as vice mayor from 2008 to 2012. After a two-year absence, he returned to the council in 2014.
El Portal is a small community with close to 3,000 residents just north of Little Haiti. All seats in El Portal carry two-year terms.