MIAMI LAKES (CBSMiami) — Miami Lakes has had only two mayors and between the two of them, they’ve held the office a total of four times.
Now they’re attempting a fifth, but this coming election, a third man is hoping to change that.
Both of Miami Lakes’ mayors want another shot at serving the people in their community.
“I want them to know, I’m not just their mayor. I’m their friend,” said current Mayor Michael Pizzi. “I’m their neighbor. I’m with them in church. I care deeply about them. I love them unconditionally, and my life is dedicated to serving them because they’re my friends.”
“I’ve always said, I don’t think running for Mayor changes a person,” said his challenger and former Mayor, Wayne Slaton. “I think running for mayor reveals what a person’s character really is,” he added referring to Pizzi.
In 2013, Pizzi was serving out his second term when he was forced to leave office that August after being indicted on charges of accepting illegal money and campaign funds during an undercover FBI investigation.
“I think people now can see perhaps the true character of the former mayor and maybe they have doubts,” said Slaton, who was the first mayor of Miami Lakes after it incorporated in 2000 and was re-elected to the position in a special election after Pizzi was removed from office.
“The last time we had a real election, in November of 2012, when 30,000 people voted, I defeated him by 70 percent of the vote,” Pizzi. “(Slaton) was elected in a special election where a couple of hundred people voted.”
Pizzi was acquitted of all charges in 2014 and he sued to be reinstated. In April 2015, Slaton was out, and Pizzi was back in.
Now, both men are going head to head in this upcoming election.
“I want Miami Lakes, when you hear the words, Miami Lakes, the community, people just automatically think that’s a great place to be and not think of controversy,” said Slaton.
Slaton wants that reputation back but, this time, it will not be just a two-man race.
Miami Lakes Councilman Manny Cid is also on the ballot. He said it’s time for new leadership.
“We’ve had two extremes. We’ve had a mayor who sat back and said whatever happens happens, and we had another mayor who would fight everybody,” said Cid.
Councilman Cid is co-founder and former president of the Hialeah-Miami Lakes Republican Club. He said his style of leadership is somewhere in the middle of the other two.
Although he hasn’t held the title of Miami Lakes Mayor yet, he believes he has something much more important that his two rivals lack.
“Not only am I raising a family here and I own a business here, and I spent seven years in the legislature, I would be the first mayor raised in this community,” said Cid. “So when folks talk about playing at the Optimus Park or refurbishing it, I actually did that. I still have scrapes on my legs from the times I would slide into second base.”
According to residents, one of the key issues they want a solution to is traffic.
“I want to reduce traffic congestion by 20 percent,” said Pizzi. “I have a plan to do it. I’m implementing it and like I’ve been doing for 20 years, I’m going to get it done.”
Slaton said they’ve been talking about synchronizing the traffic lights in all of Miami-Dade County for years and it’s about time they stop talking about it and take action.
“What I say they need to be doing right now is getting the police officers out there at the intersections helping to move the traffic along,” said Slaton, who added that they do it all the time at Dolphins games and it seems to help move the traffic in and out of the stadium very quickly.
Cid said both former mayors have had years to get the job done and points out that he sponsored South Florida’s first mobility ordinance, which holds developers responsible for mitigating traffic congestion when they build new properties, or they must pay a mobility fee.
“We’re actually already collecting close to $700,000 in the mobility fee, and we’re going to purchase the traffic lights in town, and we’re going to synchronize them in real-time based on the Bluetooth data on your phone or from your vehicle, “ said Cid.
To be elected mayor of Miami Lakes, a candidate must receive greater than 50% of the total ballots cast. If that doesn’t happen, a run-off election between just the top two will take place three weeks later on November 29th.