Doral 2018 elections off to an early start with familiar faces

Doral City Hall can be seen on the left behind a sculpture by Michele Oka Doner.
Doral City Hall can be seen on the left behind a sculpture by Michele Oka Doner. Miami Herald file

Sandra Ruiz, a former Doral councilwoman and 2016 mayoral candidate, will be back on the city’s ballot come November 2018.

Ruiz, who ran for mayor in November and lost to Juan Carlos Bermudez, filed to run for council Seat 4, currently held by Ana Maria Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, who terms out in November 2018, has filed to run for District 105 of the Florida House of Representatives, currently held by Carlos Trujillo. Trujillo has said he is under consideration for appointment as an ambassador for the Trump administration.

Digna Cabral, who ran and lost against councilwoman Christi Fraga in the 2016 election, and Belinda Leon, an education consultant, have also filed to run for Rodriguez’s seat.

“Because Carlos Trujillo is rumored to be named as an ambassador for the Trump administration, people are filing early,” Rodriguez told the Miami Herald. “And if that does happen, it could potentially create a vacancy, hence a domino effect in regards to a special election in the city of Doral, which would happen earlier than the scheduled date in November 2018.”

Ruiz first served on the council in 2003 until 2010. She was reelected in 2012, then ran for the mayor’s seat in 2016. She lost the race, placing third with only 20 percent of the vote. Ruiz was also a Democratic candidate for District 112 in the Florida House of Representatives in the November 2010 state legislative elections. She lost to current State Rep. Jeanette Nunez.

Ruiz was not available for comment.

Rodriguez was elected in 2010 for a four-year term and was subsequently reelected without opposition for a second four-year term in 2014. This will be her first time running for a seat in the Legislature.

“Since my term is ending in Doral and I can’t file for a third term, I’ve given it a lot of thought and have decided to pursue my desire to continue in public office,” Rodriguez said. “Hopefully I can raise the bar and be a good example for Miami-Dade County politics.”

Rodriguez is known in Doral for being an advocate for paid parental leave. After sponsoring the ordinance in April 2016, it passed unanimously a few months later and Doral became the first municipality in the county to offer the benefit to its employees. The city now offers four weeks of paid leave to men and women who have worked for the city for more than a year and who are expecting or adopting a child.

Rodriguez was the sole “no” vote in 2015 when the council voted to rename J.C. Bermudez Park — now Doral Central Park. She was also the lone “no” vote when the council voted to fire Doral’s longtime city clerk, Barbara Herrera in 2014.

Cabral, who’s lived in Doral for about 10 years, ran for office for the first time in 2016. She was defeated, receiving 25 percent of the vote. She’s currently a research analyst for the University of Miami.

“Right now I have great support and have more experience running for the second time. I decided to file early so I can be ready when the time comes. If a special election comes, great, but if not I’ll be ready for November 2018. I learned last time that the earlier you file, the greater opportunity the residents have to get to know you.”

Leon, who has been widowed for about a year and a half, said filing early meant having more time to raise money. It also would give her the opportunity to “be that role model.”

“After my husband passed away, I really felt that I needed to show my two daughters how they can be fearless in this world,” Leon said.

Monique O. Madan: 305-376-2108, @MoniqueOMadan