With the final filing date still two months away, Commissioner Juan C. Zapata has drawn Felix M. Lorenzo as his sole opponent to date in a bid for reelection to the District 11 seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission.
The seats of three of five commissioners who represent districts that cover Kendall are open for reelection: District 9 Commissioner Dennis Moss is running against two filed challengers: Earl Beaver, a restaurateur, and Rubin Young, who also is running against Harvey Ruvin for County Clerk.
Through mid-April, District 9 Commissioner Xavier Suarez remained unopposed for reelection for his seat. With Mayor Carlos Gimenez, County Clerk Harvey Ruvin and seven of the county’s 13 commission seats up for election, 2016 has the potential to be particularly busy for political aspirants on the county level.
Lorenzo, 75, a former pharmaceutical salesman, said he decided to oppose Zapata after attending several Municipal Advisory Committee meetings.
“I found no need to create new municipalities out of these unincorporated areas,” Lorenzo said.
Lorenzo objects to going “against the area’s historical identity by changing the name to West End North and West End South, designations that Zapata initiated to better focus economic and social identities for two unincorporated West Kendall areas north and south of SW 88th Street (Kendall Drive).
Lorenzo said he also would work hard to stop installation of red light cameras in the county, which he calls “another hidden tax,” and halt increasing county indebtedness. He also said he will “fight to allocate transportation tax money exclusively for transportation uses to serve transportation needs of today while preparing for tomorrow.”
A native of Cuba who migrated to the U.S. from Spain, Lorenzo graduated from Pierce College in Los Angeles, CA. He retired in 2015 as a pharmaceutical representative after 25 years with the same company. Married with two children, and five grandchildren, he holds an active real estate broker license and is seeking political office for the first time.
During his inaugural term, Zapata, 49, created a new “West End” image for a substantial area of West Kendall that he said will provide a new identity for the area of more than a quarter million residents largely west of SW 137th Avenue between SW Eighth and SW 152nd streets.
Zapata who holds a degree in Finance and International Business from FIU will seek his second four-year term as District 11 commissioner following election to the post on Nov. 6, 2012.
A resident of West Kendall since 1977, he began a career of public service with his election in 1996 to a community council which he chaired for two terms.
He later became the first Colombian-American elected to the Florida State House of Representatives in 2002, serving four consecutive two-year terms. He also chaired the Municipal Advisory Committee that developed West Kendall’s first study on incorporation, served on the Miami-Dade Commission on Human Rights, and most recently, has chaired the Jackson Hospital Governance Taskforce. Currently, he also chairs the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund.
Candidates have until noon on June 27 to file for county commission seats with the primary scheduled for contested positions Aug. 30. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the total primary vote, the top two candidates will have a runoff during the 2016 General Election scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 8.