Hialeah has two new City Council members after a runoff election Tuesday.
In Group VI, law school student Bryan Calvo defeated registered nurse and business owner Angelica Pacheco to succeed Paul Hernandez, who opted not to seek re-election to the seven-member Council.
And in Group VII, auto parts sales manager Luis Rodriguez beat banker Maylin Villalonga to take the seat of term-limited Council member Katharine Cue-Fuente.
Together, they’ll join Jesus Tundidor, Monica Perez, Jacqueline Garcia-Roves, Carl Zogby and Oscar De la Rosa on the City Council, though De la Rosa said he intended to resign to avoid the appearance of a conflicts of interest after his stepfather, Esteban “Steve” Bovo, was elected Hialeah Mayor in the General Election.
As of 7:46 p.m. with all precincts reporting, Calvo held 67.5% of the vote, with 5,671 ballots cast in his favor. Pacheco held 32.5% of the vote, represented by 2,730 ballots cast for her.
Rodriguez’s win was even more commanding, with 6,402 ballots cast for him, representing 76.5% of the vote. Villalonga’s 1,966 votes gave her the reciprocal percentage.
These numbers could change slightly, according to the office of Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections Christina White, which shows Election Day and vote-by-mail ballots as “partially reported.”
All election results are unofficial until certified by the county Canvassing Board.
As it stands, of 103,391 registered voters in Hialeah counted in 2019, just 8,461 — 8.2% — voted in the runoff.
Calvo and Pacheco emerged from a five-way race Nov. 2 with less than a percentage point separating them. Heading into a runoff, they left behind three other candidates: artist Ramiro Collazo-More, businessman Hector Abel Selin and Eddie Santiesteban, the preferred candidate of Bovo and state Rep. Alex Rizo.
A Hialeah native, Calvo is a third-year law student at Florida International University. And at 23, he’s more than a decade the junior of Pacheco, who owns several small businesses with her husband, Daniel Pacheco.
Calvo’s youth proved not to be a predictor of his fundraising prowess. He raised nearly $105,000 toward his Council bid, more than triple what Pacheco reported raising through Oct. 28.
Their contest drew additional attention last week after political blogger Elaine de Valle published reports detailing Pacheco’s criminal history, which includes charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, battery, criminal mischief, domestic abuse and child abuse.
With more than twice the number of votes as Villalonga in the General Election, Rodriguez was the favorite to win a runoff race. The two left behind four other candidates heading into a runoff: Milly Herrera, Mike Horgan, Abdel Jimenez and Christopher Monzon.
Rodriguez, 48, oversees commercial sales for Advanced Auto Parts. He grew up in Hialeah, according to the Miami Herald. He and Pacheco received endorsements from Miami-Dade Commissioner René García, who chairs the Miami-Dade Republican Party.
Villalonga, 38, has lived in Hialeah almost a quarter-century after immigrating from Cuba. As the Herald reported, she owes more than $20,000 in credit card debt but is working to negotiate a settlement.
Rodriguez reported raising more than $156,000 for his Council bid through Nov. 12. Villalonga raised just 2% of that — $3,050 — through the end of October.
Both expressed concerns about the city’s parks and the turnover rate in the Hialeah Police Department.
With more than 233,000 residents, Hialeah is the second-most populous city in Miami-Dade County and among the most populous cities in Florida.