2 City Council incumbents try to fend off challenges in Hialeah election
Hialeah of Florida of United States flag waving

Hialeah of Florida of United States flag waving on the top
The races see 4-year terms up for grabs.

Hialeah voters Tuesday will decide whether to keep two City Council members in office for four more years or replace them with a pair of challengers.

One contest features a political newcomer hoping to unseat the seven-seat governing body’s highest-ranking member. The other is a rematch one year in the making.

In both cases, the incumbent holds a major funding advantage.

Hialeah Council members serve in an at large capacity, meaning they represent the entire city of more than 220,000 residents and not just a portion of it.

Two sitting members — Group 2 Councilperson Jesus Tundidor and Group 3 Councilperson Jacqueline Garcia-Roves, the panel’s Vice President — coasted into re-election earlier this year after no one filed to run against them.

Council Group 1

The race for Council Group 1 features incumbent Council President Monica Perez defending against Elias Montes de Oca, a first-time political candidate with an ambitious platform and not-so-pristine past.

Perez, 41, is an elementary school teacher who won her seat in 2019 with more than 58% of the vote.

Hialeah Council President Monica Perez outraised her challenger sevenfold. Image via Hialeah.

Her campaign website provides no new policy proposals but gives an overview of her priorities, which include improving youth services, neighborhood safety, programming for individuals with special needs, community planning and government transparency.

She raised nearly $84,000 through her campaign account to win re-election, with most of the funds coming from hundreds of businesses and residents from South Florida, many of which listed addresses outside of Hialeah. A sizable portion of her gains came from real estate companies and professionals.

Hialeah Republican Rep. Alex Rizo, a fellow education professional, gave Perez $500. Sweetwater Mayor Jose “Pepe” Diaz, the immediate past Chair of the Miami-Dade County Commission, donated $1,000.

Perez also received $1,000 apiece from Jorge and Julio Del Rey, the co-owners of Executive Fantasy Hotels, a chain of erotically themed motels that rent rooms at three-hour rates.

Montes de Oca, a 24-year-old assistant legal paraprofessional, raised about $12,000 through his campaign account. That includes about $2,000 worth of self-loans.

The remainder came almost exclusively through three-figure donations from Hialeah businesses and residents.

His priorities, if elected, would be to lower property taxes and utility costs, invest in affordable housing and traffic improvements, promote low-density residential development, refurbish Hialeah’s underground water and wastewater lines, mitigate flooding, expand services for elderly pedestrians, improve recycling provisions and make the city more hospitable to pedestrians and bicyclists.

Elias Montes de Oca is mounting his first run at public office the same year he earned his bachelor’s degree from Florida International University. Image Elias Montes de Oca.

Montes de Oca brings some baggage into the race. In 2018, he was the subject of a police complaint alleging he forged a check from a restaurant he worked for, adding $1,000 to the check’s value before depositing it into his bank account.

He was not arrested or charged, and the matter was dropped after he repaid the money, according to the Miami Herald.

The explanation Montes de Oca gave police was that he’d been paid money through a check from the restaurant by a “sugar daddy” in exchange for sending pornographic images of himself and engaging in explicit conversations.

He has at least 16 other files with the Hialeah Police Department, the Herald revealed, including one case alleging fraud and several for driving-related offenses, the most recent of which occurred this July for an expired vehicle tag.

Council Group 4

One year after 58% of Hialeah voters chose incumbent Council member Vivian Casáls-Muñoz to remain in office, she is again facing the person she defeated last year, nurse and small business owner Angelica Pacheco.

Casáls-Muñoz, 55, was first elected to the City Council in 2006. After years out of office, her peers appointed her in February 2022 to finish the term left vacant by Oscar De La Rosa, who resigned to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest after his stepfather, former Miami-Dade Commission Chair Esteban “Steve” Bovo, won the mayoralty.

That seat, and a four-year term in it, is again up for grabs Tuesday.

Vivian Casáls-Muñoz had aims to return to public office even before her City Council peers appointed her to the panel last year. Image via Hialeah.

Casáls-Muñoz runs a real estate title company in private life. She’s also one of several directors of the privately run Hialeah Hospital. Tundidor is another.

Prior to her appointment last year, she sought the seat representing House District 111. She dropped her candidacy for the local opportunity.

This year, she raised more than $103,000 to remain on the Council. Hialeah businesses and professionals, a large share of them from the real estate and construction industry, accounted for much of that sum.

But she also enjoyed ample financial support from fellow GOP politicians. Through Oct. 20, she received $1,000 contributions from the political committees of Diaz, Miami Sen. Alexis Calatayud, Miami Rep. Juan Porras and Miami-Dade Commissioners Juan Carlos “J.C.” Bermudez, Kevin Marino Cabrera and René García.

For Pacheco, 36, this is her third run at Hialeah office. She also ran in 2021, when she received the most votes of several candidates running in the city’s Primary but lost in a runoff against Council member Bryan Calvo.

Three-time Hialeah Council candidate Angelica Pacheco posing with a cardboard cutout of the man she hopes will return to the Oval Office in 2025. Image via Facebook.

She raised close to $12,500 this year through her campaign account, with donations coming from a variety of mostly Hialeah-based businesses, a handful of residents, $990 from her husband and an $850 self-loan.

Casáls-Muñoz and Pacheco also have some baggage. While serving as a City Council member in 2015, Casáls-Muñoz faced an accusation that she “sold her vote” by switching her position at the last minute to support a zoning change allowing the construction of a residential complex.

The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust found no probable cause she was guilty of any impropriety.

She was accused years earlier of fraud, as detailed by Political Cortadito, which also reported on Pacheco’s arrest in April 2004 on three charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one count of criminal damage and assault.

The person pressing charges against Pacheco, then named Angelica Caballero, was her mother. Pacheco told the Herald last month that the altercation was actually with her stepfather, who she said had locked her mother inside their home.

She pleaded nolo contendere and received six months of probation.

In 2011, Pacheco drew police attention for alleged child abuse. Pacheco said she’d only spanked her son, but an arrest report Political Cortadito obtained shows she was actually accused of striking the 5-year-old with a belt, leaving welts that a teacher later saw and reported.

The case was ultimately dismissed.


Editor’s note: This report has been updated to correctly name the owners of Executive Fantasy Hotels.

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.


  • Earl Pitts "World-Wide Political Influncer" American

    November 5, 2023 at 7:59 am

    Good mornting to all Hialeah voters,
    You may wonder what is a “World Wide Political Influncer” such as the famous Earl Pitts American’s intetest in little ‘Ole Hialeah?
    Well my fine upstanding citizens of beautiful Hialeah the old saying that “All Politics Is Local” is 100% true.
    So lets begin with what and who we know in our quest to move forward.
    You know the incumbants: so do a mental inventory of everyone seeking re-election. If there is any question whatsoever in your mind that any incumbants may be in any of the bulow catagories vote them out of office
    1.) Dook 4 Brains Leftists
    2.) Either outright public school groomers, drag queen story-time supporters, or living a public life of debauchry, homer-testicalism, drug use, or anything like the above perverse things
    Thank you good citizens of Hialeah,
    Earl Pitts American

    • Rick Whitaker

      November 5, 2023 at 7:39 pm



    November 7, 2023 at 4:39 pm

    Eally Good Job.

Comments are closed.


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