Miami Lakes voters picking among 5 Town Council candidates to fill remainder of Seat 6 term

Miami Lakes Town Hall Wiki Commons
Taxes, the town’s aging infrastructure, traffic congestion and property damage from nearby blast mining are among the top issues for candidates.

Five candidates are competing for a two-and-a-half-year term in Seat 6 of the Town Council of Miami Lakes, a municipality with some 31,000 residents in northwest Miami-Dade County.

They include social worker Hector Abad, former Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Town Manager Esther Colon, lawyer Bryan Morera, former Miami Lakes Vice Mayor Nelson Rodriguez and John Rogger, a public relations specialist for South Florida Autism Charter School.

The winner of the election Tuesday — or an April 30 runoff, if no candidate secures more than 50% of the vote Tuesday — will serve the remaining term of ex-Vice Mayor Carlos Alvarez through November 2026.

Alvarez resigned on Nov. 14, one year into his second four-year term, citing a need to focus more on his work as a charter school principal and President of the CIVICA school network.

Aside from hyperlocal outlets, there’s been little media attention on the race. A survey the Miami Laker conducted of the candidates found that taxes, the town’s aging infrastructure, traffic congestion, property damage from limestone blast mining and public safety are top issues this election cycle.

All candidates agreed the town should continue to outsource its policing needs to Miami-Dade County, which in November will elect its first Sheriff, and that Miami Lakes residents shouldn’t exclusively cover the cost of renovating Optimist Park.

Miami Lakes Council members and the Mayor are elected and serve at-large, meaning all town residents can vote for candidates seeking any elected office in a given election.

Hector Abad said he has “a calling” to serve his community. Image via Hector Abad.

A first-time candidate, Abad has lived in Miami Lakes since 2001 and works by day as a social worker with Miami-Dade Public Schools. When not on the job, he remains active in the community and has chaired the town’s Education Advisory Board and served on its Mental Health Task Force.

“I want to continue to serve and work for our community,” he said in a statement. “That’s why I have decided to run for Miami Lakes Town Council, because helping others and working to improve our community is more than a job for me; it’s a calling.”

Abad, 53, is running on a platform prioritizing traffic management, crime reduction, economically empowering small businesses and apportioning more of the town’s budget to upgrading local infrastructure.

Through April 4, the last date on which campaign finance reports are available for candidates, Abad raised $10,000 and spent $9,000. Most of his donations came from people.

He carries an endorsement from Council member Ray Garcia. His Instagram and Facebook pages also feature character-endorsing quotes from Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid, Vice Mayor Tony Fernandez and Council member Luis Collazo.

Esther Colon has ample experience in municipal government and Miami Lakes elections. Image via Miami Lakes/Esther Colon.

Colon, 70, is a veteran of local government management and a 30-year resident of Miami Lakes.

She is also a retired professor and has served in numerous volunteer capacities in her longtime hometown, including the Blasting Advisory, Cultural Affairs, Sheriff Ordinance Ad Hoc and Elderly Affairs committees.

If elected, she vows to work on addressing the town’s traffic problems, especially in school zones; upgrading local infrastructure with a focus on drainage, road projects and pedestrian projects; and making Miami Lakes’ government more fiscally accountable and accessible to residents.

“I am a qualified, professional, and ethical candidate who is ready to work as a proud public servant,” she said in a statement.

She raised $9,000 through April 4, of which half was from her bank account. The remainder overwhelmingly came through personal checks. She also spent $7,400.

If elected, Colon would be the only woman on the Town Council after the November election, based on the current list of November candidates. She has run for the Council twice before.

Bryan Morera is the race’s fundraising frontrunner. Image via Bryan Morera.

Morera, a business lawyer in private practice, is running as a first-time candidate at 32 years old.

Like his opponents, he wants to lower taxes, address blast mining problems and improve public safety. He also wants to dedicate more town resources to further beautifying Miami Lakes.

“Like many towns, we are facing some growing pains and face serious challenges that need to be addressed. Over the years, traffic has become more difficult to contend with at best, and a nightmare at worst; several of our tree canopies have been removed; and numerous interests have endeavored to treat taxpayer dollars like a blank check and to overdevelop our town,” he said.

“As your next Councilman, I will work with my colleagues to deliver long-term solutions to these and other issues to ensure that Miami Lakes remains a great place to live, work and play.”

Morera has attracted ample financial support and is the money front-runner in the race with more than $20,000 in donations and $13,500 in expenditures.

About 100 people contributed to Moreno’s campaign in two- to three-figure sums. He received a handful or so of business contributions, including from insurance and real estate companies.

A few political committees also chipped. Morera received $1,000 apiece from the government relations arm of the Miami Association of Realtors, the PC of Miami-Dade Commissioner René García and New Dade PAC, a PC that largely gives to conservative candidates and paid large sums last quarter to Groundswell Strategies, a Coral Gables-based consulting firm helmed by former Marco Rubio organizer Anthony Busatamante.

Of roughly $13,5000 Morera spent through April 4, more than $10,700 went to Groundswell Strategies.

His Facebook page says he received endorsements from García, Republican Rep. Tom Fabricio, School Board member Robert Alonso, Council members Luis Collazo, Josh Dieguez and Marilyn Ruano, and former Vice Mayor Frank Mingo.

He is a member of the Miami Lakes Chamber of Commerce and previously served on the town’s Blasting Advisory Board.

Nelson Rodriguez’s history of elected service in Miami Lakes dates back more than a decade. Image via Facebook/Nelson Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, 54, is a retired firefighter who now works in American Airlines’ baggage service department and teaches emergency medical services at Barry University. He was first elected to the Town Council in 2012. won re-election in 2016 and served as Vice Mayor for two years through 2020, when he unsuccessfully ran for the House.

His platform prioritizes cutting taxes, improving street maintenance and cutting down on roadway congestion.

“I am ready to work on Day One,” he said in a statement.

“I have a proven track record as a Council member. I understand the town operation and I am very familiar with the needs of our residents,” he told the Miami Laker. “After receiving many calls from neighbors and supporters, I have decided to run again. After the November 2024 election we will have five new Council members. I believe I can be a mentor to these new Council members, and I hope to bring unity back to this current Council.”

Rodriguez raised $3,000 this cycle, inclusive of a $1,000 self-loan and $1,000 from Law Order and Justice PC, the political committee of Lake County Sheriff Peyton Grinnell.

John Rogger hopes to make history and a major statement about inclusivity and achievement with a win Tuesday. Image via John Rogger.

Rogger, 37, is running to become one of the first — if not the first — people with autism to win elected office in Florida.

A first-time candidate, he has chaired the town’s Special Needs Advisory Board. When not at his day job, he hosts a morning show on The Cove radio, KRMS 98.7.

Rogger said he wants to broaden inclusivity initiatives and representation, fight to preserve Miami Lakes’ “small town charm” amid increasing development and improve local roads and traffic issues. He also hopes to make operations at Town Hall more transparent and finalize a local license plate reader project to help law enforcement.

“This is not only a fight for the betterment of our community, improvements for our town (and) decisions that matter to people,” said Rogger, who is the father of two boys on the autism spectrum. “It’s also my personal journey of breaking stereotypes, showcasing my dedication (and) proving that there are no limits to what can be achieved, which I hope is inspiring to others within the special needs community.”

He’s raised $6,600, including $700 from his bank account. The rest came mostly through personal checks, with just three corporate contributions. He also reported spending $7,300.

Rogger’s Instagram page features several quotes about him from Miami Lakes elected officials and community leaders, including Cid, Special Needs Advisory Committee Chair Vivian Levy, pastor Darius Wentz, Arts for Autism founder Audrey Amadeo.


If no candidate wins more than half the vote on Tuesday, Miami Lakes will hold a runoff between the two biggest vote-getters on April 30.

Of Miami Lakes’ nearly 31,000 residents, 20,004 are registered voters, according to the Miami-Dade Elections Department.

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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