Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose ‘Pepe’ Diaz undergoes surgery to remove tumor

Jose “Pepe” Diaz
Diaz is recovering and in stable condition.

Miami-Dade Commission Chair Jose “Pepe” Diaz has undergone surgery to remove a rare, noncancerous tumor near his brain, his office said. He is now recovering and in stable condition.

During a scheduled, nonemergency operation Thursday, surgeons at Jackson Memorial Hospital excised an acoustic neuroma, a benign and usually slow-growing tumor that develops on a cranial nerve connecting the inner ear to the brain, said Isidoro Lopez, Diaz’s chief of staff.

“The surgery was a success,” Lopez told Florida Politics, adding that Diaz is expected to be able to return to normal activity in about a week.

“During this time, the Office of Chairman Diaz asks that his family’s privacy is respected,” a press note from his office said.

Since his unanimous election to the chairmanship by fellow commissioners in November, Diaz, the highest-ranking member of the county’s 13-seat legislative body, has often asked others to speak up while presiding over the Commission because of problems hearing, a common symptom of the type of tumor he had removed.

His communications director, Olga Vega, said he has also had balance issues for the last “three or four years, maybe.” Acoustic neuroma, also called vestibular schwannoma, grows on the balance and hearing nerve. If unremoved, it can grow large enough to press against the brainstem and cerebellum to become life-threatening.

The surgery marked the second major health-related incident for Diaz in the last month.

On July 11, his office announced that he and Lopez had tested positive for COVID-19 after “experiencing flu-like symptoms earlier” that day.

Diaz had been helping local officials at the site of the Surfside condo collapse earlier that day.

Both men were vaccinated against the virus when they tested positive, according to a statement from his office, which said they would follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and isolate. The statement also noted people who had come in close contact with the two would be tested over the next two days.

A former member of the U.S. Marine Corps, Diaz served for three years as Mayor of the city of Sweetwater, a small city in western Miami-Dade that is also his longtime home, before winning his seat representing District 12 on the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners in 2002.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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