West Miami-Dade

Sweetwater residents have spoken. The incumbent mayor will keep his seat.

Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez won re-election Tuesday.
Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez won re-election Tuesday.

Sweetwater voters went to the polls Tuesday and decided incumbent mayor Orlando Lopez would lead the city.

The mayoral runoff saw about 2,499 residents cast ballots out of the 10,096 registered voters, amounting to a 25 percent turnout.

Lopez handily won. He received 1,345 votes, or about 54 percent of the total. His challenger, Jose Diaz, a former interim mayor, received 1,140 votes, or about 46 percent.

Lopez, 51, will remain as one of the few strong mayors in the county. A strong mayor is the administrator of the commission and does not have a vote, but can veto. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

The runoff results mirrored the city’s first election night on May 14, when Lopez was the top vote getter but failed to get at least 50 percent of the total in the three-person race. He received nearly 47 percent of the vote.

Diaz, 62, came in second with 29 percent of the vote, leading to the runoff between the two.

Jose Diaz, former interim mayor of Sweetwater, lost his bid to become mayor in Tuesday’s Sweetwater elections.

The third candidate, commissioner Idania Llanio, was eliminated after coming in third with 24 percent of the vote in the May 14 election.

This election season isn’t the first time Lopez and Diaz have battled for the mayoral position. When Lopez was first elected mayor in 2015, his opponent was then interim-mayor Diaz. Diaz, however, was disqualified from running by a judge because he did not resign from his role as commissioner to run for mayor.

Sweetwater, like many other South Florida cities, has had contentious, sometimes nasty election races through the years. This election season was no different. On May 21, Ricardo Rodriguez, 54, was arrested for claiming that he was shot at while campaigning for Diaz, news agencies reported.

Lopez was born in Miami Beach and has lived in Sweetwater for 17 years, according to a profile on the city’s website. He has run several businesses, including real estate investments.

Before being elected mayor, Lopez served as a Sweetwater city commissioner for 14 years. During his first term as mayor, Lopez has worked on several projects to beautify the city and economic development.

Among the projects: the 4th Street Commons, the second in a series of four potential student-housing building sites, and competing for a grant to beautify 109th Avenue.