West Miami-Dade

Former Mayor Gloria Bango lives in Kendall and votes in Sweetwater

In 1997: Nicaragua's Vice President Enrique Bolanos receives the key to the city of Sweetwater from Mayor Gloria Bango.
In 1997: Nicaragua's Vice President Enrique Bolanos receives the key to the city of Sweetwater from Mayor Gloria Bango. El Nuevo Herald File

Gloria Bango, mayor of Sweetwater between 1994 and 1999, moved out of Sweetwater in 2010 but for years continued to be — and still is —a registered voter in that city.

Starting in 2010 and until 2014, Bango voted in the general elections through absentee ballots mailed from 11206 SW First St. According to Miami-Dade’s Office of Property Appraisals documents, Bango has been that property’s proprietor since 1972 but as of 2000 she’s been renting it to Commissioner Jose Guerra and his family.

According to court records which el Nuevo Herald accessed, Bango sold the property to Guerra and his wife on April 6 of this year.

Carolina Lopez, spokesperson for the Miami-Dade elections department, said that it’s the responsibility of each voter to update the information on their voter’s registration each time they acquire a new home address. On Wednesday afternoon, Lopez referred questions about the legality of Bango’s actions to the state attorney’s office.

According to information available on Florida’s Division of Elections website, the law states that a person can only vote at the school corresponding to the address of the place where they live.

On Wednesday, Bango confirmed via telephone that she had not lived in that address since 2010. A few hours later, Guerra told a Univision 23 reporter that Bango had always kept a room within the household.

Documents obtained by el Nuevo Herald show that in 2013 Bango changed the address on her driver’s license to 8965 SW 120 St., in the Kendall area. El Nuevo Herald knocked on the door of that house on Wednesday morning and no one answered.

A few minutes later Bango said by telephone that she had moved to her son’s house in 2010. Later, her son said by telephone that his mother wouldn’t make any more comments for this article.

Guerra, who is seeking reelection next May 12th, refused to speak to an el Nuevo Herald reporter but told a Univision 23 reporter that he’s rented the house on SW First Street since 2000 and that he and Bango are good friends.

According to official records from the property appraiser’s office, the house is 2,000 square feet and has three rooms and two bathrooms.

Bango, 71, and Guerra, 58, as well as two other people are registered voters at that address: Guerra’s wife, Elizabeth P. Guerra, 50, Adrian Manuel Guerra, 31, Rafael Bango, 36, and Erick Raul Bocanegra, 29.

It’s unclear how Bango obtained the absentee ballots which arrived at the Sweetwater address but documents obtained by el Nuevo Herald show that she voted by mail in the general elections in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

It’s also unclear why Bango didn’t update her voter’s registration when she moved from Sweetwater. Records show that she could have received an annual homestead exemption until last year. It’s illegal for the owner of a property to receive an extension when he doesn’t live in his primary residence.

A elections department spokeswoman said the office will try to determine what Bango’s correct address is.

“We’re going to initiate a procedure which follows state laws to indentify the actual address of the elector,” Carolina Lopez said.

Private investigator Joe Carrillo said that he discovered the discrepancy in Guerra’s residence when he researched absentee ballots in Sweetwater and that he thought it was suspicious.

“I ask myself, how many people can live in that house? Mr. Guerra has a family and we know that because there’s several registered voters with the Guerra last name in that address,” Carillo said. “There’s something irregular here, and I think it needs to be investigated because it’s fishy.”

El Nuevo Herald photographer Roberto Koltun contributed to this report.

Follow Brenda Medina on Twitter: @BrendaMedinar

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