Once again, Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez had a split decision with his chosen candidates, with one winning and the other losing Tuesday night, similar to the results two weeks prior.
Jackie Garcia-Roves beat Milly Herrera, winning 54 percent of the vote. But Jesus Tundidor won with 65.6 percent, thwarting Luis Gonzalez’s attempt to return to the council he served on from 2005 to 2017.
Neither Garcia-Roves nor Gonzalez responded to requests for comment.
Tundidor’s main campaign themes were water, waste services and public safety.
“The water fees have increased 200 percent in the last 10 years and that has been during the time frame that the current mayor has been in office and the same time my opponent was on the city council as well,” said Tundidor.
He added that the current trash contract is too expensive.
“We’ve privatized our waste department and now we subcontract. The current contract we have with that private company isn’t working out for the city. It’s only benefitting the private company and not the residents of Hialeah.”
He said he was thankful that voters in the city believed in him.
“I’m very grateful and appreciative of all the residents and their support. In believing in me, confiding in me and electing me to be their city councilman. I wouldn’t be able to do it without any of them,” Tundidor said. “I really do hope that they continue to see me as the same person who knocked on their door initially and I hope that I can continue being the person they voted for.”
On Nov. 5, voters ousted Hernandez pick and incumbent Councilwoman Lourdes Gonzalez in favor of teacher Monica Perez for Group I, but elected his choice, Oscar De La Rosa, for the Group IV seat. Because no one received more than 50 percent of the votes in the remaining two races, the top two candidates from those contests went to a runoff.
In the Group III race, Herrera campaigned for better zoning plans, lower auto insurance and public safety, but lost to Garcia-Roves by 822 votes or 46 percent of the total vote.
“I will continue as a community activist. There is a movement in Hialeah to take back our city and we will continue,” she said.
Rene Garcia, a former Florida state senator who also served four terms in the Florida House of Representatives, said the city needed a change in leadership. He said he was supporting Tundidor and Garcia-Roves.
“Hialeah is a great city with hardworking people and hardworking families. Where we are in Hialeah right now, we don’t deserve it,” he said.
Garcia said the city’s recreational facilities kept him off the streets. He says the parks should have extended hours and more community events. He also criticized the waste contracts.
“They privatized the garbage. Which is fine, privatization is good when it works, when people get something in return,” he said.
He added that morale in the police department is low.
“We see a lot of our good officers have left; a lot of our senior officers have left. They’ve left to departments like Doral, Sunny Isles, Miami Beach and Coral Gables,” he said. “Listen we have a lot of good officers, there’s no doubt. But a lot of the experience and talent that was there has fled and the same thing is happening with our firefighters.”
The mayor, though not personally up for election, has been at the forefront of recent news in Hialeah, not only because of his endorsements but also due to a nascent recall campaign filed against him.
Fernando Godo, who failed to make the runoff for Group II, and Eduardo Macaya, who filed to make the runoff in Group III, filed paperwork to remove Hernandez from office last week. Proponents need at least 5,000 signatures to put the issue to voters.
Julio Martinez, a former Hialeah mayor, said Hernandez had to go.
“I’ve been here for 58 years and Hialeah has never been worse. We’ve had many mayors, but this is the worst I’ve seen,” he said. “He has reduced fire, reduced our police and sold our solid waste department.”
Martinez, now the president of the Hialeah Republican Club, said Godo is a friend and one of the candidates the club sponsored. Although Godo didn’t win, Martinez said the election was, overall, a success because his group helped defeat a number of measures that would have given the council significantly more power.
“We also endorsed going against the five amendments and they all lost,” he said. “So, we won big time. We beat five amendments which would have turned Hialeah into a dictatorship.”