Michael Pizzi wants to continue his run as mayor of Miami Lakes — interrupted in 2013 by a criminal indictment — and made that decision official this week just in time for the qualifying deadline for the town’s elections.
Pizzi, who has served two terms as mayor and on the Town Council since Miami Lakes was incorporated in 2000, 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.
Pizzi said he was inspired to run for a third term after residents encouraged him to file. He said he made the town’s noon Aug. 3 deadline by about five minutes. The election is Nov. 8.
“I feel like I’ve accomplished most of the town’s goals but I feel that there’s still more work that needs to be done,” Pizzi said.
Pizzi will face former mayor Wayne Slaton and current Councilman Manny Cid. Pizzi defeated Slaton in the November 2012 election, receiving about 68 percent of the vote.
Councilman Caesar Mestre, who served as acting mayor in 2013 after Pizzi was removed, had filed preliminary paperwork but later withdrew from the race.
Slaton was the town’s first mayor, serving until 2008. He was also elected in October 2013 to complete Pizzi’s term. After Pizzi was reinstated in 2015, Slaton did not appeal the decision. He said he’s running because he’s gotten a different viewpoint on the council after being away for about a year.
“When you step back, you get a better perspective of not only what your government does but how it operates with the people,” Slaton said.
Cid has served on the Town Council, in seat 5, since 2012 and filed for the mayoral seat in January.
“Our campaign is so focused on the future of this town, we know that we’ve got to take our message to the next generation of Miami Lakers,” Cid said.
The Nov. 8 election will also feature races for council seats 1, 3 and 5. In seat 1, Councilman Nelson Rodriguez is competing against Xiomara Pazos and Alex Dehghani. The seat 3 race is between Councilman Tony Lama and Elizabeth Delgado. Three people are in the running to fill Cid’s Seat 5: Luis Collazo, Esther Colon and Nayib Hassan.
Residents have until Oct. 11 to register for the election.