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Saturday, December 2, 2023

2019 Sweetwater, FL Elections: Candidates Preview

  • Updated 4/26/2019 with contact information for candidates (publicly available).

Sweetwater, FL – In just over a month, Sweetwater residents will vote in elections for Mayor and three seats in the commission. Candidates include newcomers as well as Sweetwater political veterans. It’s been four years since the last mayoral election in Sweetwater, and it’s been the most eventful four years in perhaps in the history of Sweetwater. This election is expected to have a stronger turnout than in 2015.

Out of the 11 candidates, 2 have never run for office in Sweetwater, 5 have run in recent elections but lost, and two have run consecutively for over 15 years and never been defeated in a Sweetwater election. One of the 11 candidates, Jose Mejia, is awaiting trial in a Miami Dade County jail from an arrest relating to felony cocaine-trafficking charges in November of 2018. Another candidate, Jose M. Diaz, was recently exposed for being arrested in an incident during the year 2000 involving a stolen toothbrush.

The 2019 candidates you’ll see on the ballot are as follows:

Sweetwater Mayor’s Seat

Orlando Lopez (Incumbent)

Orlando Lopez, previously served as commissioner since 2001, elected as Mayor in 2015 after a hotly contested political race that culminated in the disqualification of Jose M. Diaz, Lopez’s main political opponent, from the race by a circuit court judge. Lopez has had unique challenges during his first mayoral term which include legal disputes with the city commission and most notably coordinating a response to the 2018 FIU Bridge collapse disaster.

Contact Orlando Lopez

  • Facebook profile: https://www.facebook.com/mayororlando.lopez.1
  • Email: orlandolopez@bellsouth.net
  • Phone: (305) 389-3200

Major Accomplishments While in Office

  • Saved the City from the mounting debt left by interim mayor Jose Diaz (the city was on the brink of bankruptcy), paid off almost 3 million in debt that he left behind, hired a former FBI agent as the finance director (who investigated financial crimes in municipalities and large corporations, also created a position of purchasing agent to scrutinize all purchases in the city)
  • Retrained all police officers during the process of State Accreditation, doubled the police force from 25 to 46 full-time police officers – purchased 18 new police vehicles to replace the dilapidated and aging fleet, raining ALPR (Automated Licence Plate Recognition) vehicles to catch stolen vehicles
  • Repaired 43 blocks of roads and over 700 linear feet of sidewalks during the first year of an ongoing capital improvement program. This effort will eventually fix all city roads in need of repair and damaged sidewalks throughout the next few years.
  • Increased food distributions available to residents from once a week to twice a week.
  • Comprehensive restoration of the city’s largest parks through a variety of improvements including shaded and padded playing surfaces, and new LED lighting.
  • The development of three new mixed-use office/commercial buildings that will increase the city’s revenues through expanding the city’s tax base and the attraction of new commerce and jobs.

Jose M. Diaz

Jose M. Diaz is seeking to come back to Sweetwater politics. Diaz served as interim mayor from 2013 until 2015, before a bitter political defeat in 2015 to Orlando Lopez.

In 2017, his son Joniel Diaz beat Saul Diaz for Group 3 commissioner. Commissioner Joniel Diaz currently serves as the commission president.

Contact Jose M. Diaz

Idania Llanio

idania llanio sweetwater fl

Commissioner Idania Llanio has quickly risen to political prominence in Sweetwater, starting as a political unknown in the Planning and Zoning committee in 2014, to being elected in the commission in 2015, and now running for mayor in 2019.

Commissioner Llanio is easily one of the most ambitious political figures on the commission.

Contact Idania Llanio

Sweetwater Commissioner Group 5

Group 5 will decide which candidate will serve as the first-term commissioner.  First-term commissioners help provide a fresh mindset to the commission and have more eagerness to serve.

Isidro Ruiz

Contact Isidro Ruiz

Jose Martí

Contact Jose Marti

Sweetwater Group 6

Group 6 features one of the longest active politicians in Sweetwater, Prisca Barreto, versus one of the few candidates from the 2015 and 2017 elections, Saul Diaz.

Prisca Barreto

Contact Prisca Barreto

Saul Diaz

Contact Saul Diaz

Sweetwater Commissioner Group 7

Group 7 is a contest between the political establishment and new blood in Sweetwater. Manuel Duasso, a 90+ year old commissioner prone to embarrassing outbursts in almost every commission meeting, is seeking reelection against former commissioner Isolina Maroño, mother of the ex Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Maroño. Also running is political newcomer Sofia Lacayo, one of the first Nicaraguan-American candidates to run in Sweetwater since Debora Centeno in 2015.

Isolina Maroño

Contact Isolina Maroño

Manuel Duasso

Contact Manuel Duasso

  • Phone: (305) 609-4108

Sofia Lacayo

Contact Sophia Lacayo

Jose Mejia (Still in jail for felony cocaine charges)


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