Voters in four Miami-Dade municipalities went to the polls Tuesday to elect a mayor.
It was a good day for incumbents, who appeared to hold on to their mayoral seats in Miami Lakes and El Portal. Mayors Michael Pizzi and Daisy Black appeared poised to serve another term in the town of Miami Lakes and the village of El Portal, respectively.
In Doral and Medley, the mayor’s seats were left open for new challengers to snatch up. Doral’s race appears headed for a runoff election, while Roberto Martell snagged the mayor’s post in Medley.
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Although Pizzi has alienated some residents in the North Dade town of Miami Lakes, more residents appear to love him than hate him.
On Tuesday, he seemed headed toward a second term as mayor of the town of 29,000. In early voting and absentee results, he easily beat challenger Wayne Slaton, who served as Miami Lakes’ first mayor when the town incorporated in 2000. Pizzi garnered 70 percent of the early and absentee vote.
On Tuesday, Pizzi addressed his supporters from atop a chair at The Billiard Club. He pumped his fist in the air while a crowd of about 30 supporters chanted his name. They broke out in a round of Happy Birthday — the mayor turned 50 years old on Election Day.
“The people of Miami Lakes have spoken, and they like what we’re doing. It’s a great day for democracy because the people heard the critics, but we still eked out a victory,” he said.
Among Pizzi’s accomplishments touted, and criticized, on the campaign trail: building a new town hall by issuing $7.3 million of debt.
The race was a no-holds-barred affair. Glossy mailers from an unregistered Electioneering Communication Organization highlighted Pizzi’s achievements while taking aim at Slaton’s leadership while mayor. In the first week of early voting, volunteers for both campaigns filed police reports alleging battery and harassment.
Black will hang on to the seat she won in 2010. On Tuesday, the 64-year-old garnered 56 percent of the early and absentee vote.
Former Mayor Joyce Davis and newcomer Teresa Sanchez had also hoped to land the job.
On the campaign trail, Black said she wanted to help bring property values up by improving the village’s roads and wanted to encourage community involvement.
Black, retired from the Miami Police Department, had served as mayor in the late 1990s and as a council member from 2008-2010.
In Doral, a runoff election seemed likely to determine who will become Doral’s second mayor since the city’s 2003 incorporation. None of the three candidates managed to pull a majority of the vote with the early and absentee vote.
Likely to be going head-to-head in a Nov. 27 election: Councilman Luigi Boria, who resigned from his seat to run for mayor; and Frank Bolaños, a former chairman of the Miami-Dade County School Board. Boria captured 39 percent of the early and absentee votes, while Bolaños won 32 percent.
“I will keep working hard to let the people know I am the best candidate,” Boria said.
Councilman Pete Cabrera, who was term-limited out of his post, did not get the necessary votes to be in the runoff.
The winner of the runoff will become the mayor of a city of more than 46,000 residents.
Outgoing Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez was term-limited out of office after serving in the post from the time the city was incorporated.
In the mostly industrial town of Medley, council members Martell, 51, a state general contractor, and Gerardo Silva Jr., a small business owner, gave up their seats to run for mayor. Outgoing Mayor Ramon Rodriguez chose retirement in north Georgia over a reelection bid.
Martell seemed to handily win the race, with 88 percent of the early and absentee vote. The position pays $180,000 a year.
Medley, a town of 500 residents, has a strong-mayor form of government. That means the mayor serves as the chief executive and is responsible for the day-to-day functioning of the town.
Martell has lived in the town for six years and promised on the campaign trail to improve public services, infrastructure and help businesses grow.
“The first thing I plan to do is sit down with all the department chiefs to explain how I want to lead the town,” said Martell, after hearing that he was the preliminary winner. “I plan to be out front solving problems.”