Rafael Pineyro challenges incumbent Claudia Mariaca
By: María Alejandra Pulgar
On this final installment of our “Meet the Candidates for Doral Council” series, Claudia Mariaca (incumbent Councilwoman) and Rafael Pineyro discussed with us their experience, knowledge of local government, and ideas for the future of the City of Doral as candidates for Seat 1 in the Council.
Informed citizens make adequate decisions that will certainly affect the direct future for the City. On this election cycle, due to the circumstances of the pandemic, local campaigns have lacked of the more personal component of home visits, which allows for candidates to closely interact with their constituents.
We invite our readers to revisit the previous installments with all the interviews and approach the candidates through their campaign pages and contact information, so you can decide and support those who are aligned with the vision you have for the City where we live. However, never lose sight that harmony and respect should prevail because, once elections are over, we all still will be neighbors.
CLAUDIA MARIACA (Incumbent Councilwoman Seat 1)
Incumbent Councilwoman Claudia Mariaca has lived in Doral for 15 years, with her husband and two children. She won her position in the Council with more than 56% of the votes on a runoff election, in December 2016. This time around, she is the only woman running for local office.
Her active community involvement with community organizations, her leadership, knowledge, and participation as representative for residents in front of the Council, discussing issues related to education and quality of life, her professional qualifications, and her personal values, resonated with the residents who supported her to achieve the Councilwoman position, where she has served for four years with pride and dedication.
The importance of community involvement
“I have the type of personality that gets involved but with respect. It all began years before I even considered running for office, it began with participation. We see too many candidates that show up only during the election cycle and they have done nothing to inform themselves and get educated on the process of what it takes to actually be seated on a Council seat.
“I started going to council meetings, voicing my concerns. I started talking to more and more residents that also had the same concerns that I did […] there were so many others who felt the same way but not everybody is willing to put themselves in this position.
“It is a tough position. To me it is a serious position. When you are running for office you are applying for a job, […] this is not something you do for money; you do this out of passion and commitment to your city.
“And that is what I have always had, and I am lucky enough that is what I get to dedicate my time to and I have a very supportive background with my family that allows me to do that. […] I believe that we can all make a better future and have a better quality of life if we work together as a community and the only way to achieve that is for each of us put our little grain of sand; I am putting my grain of sand by doing this on a daily basis. I am happy and I am proud of it.”
Experience in Local Government
“I am actually proud of being the only female candidate on the City of Doral ballot. […] the most important thing is that no matter what your gender is and no matter where you come from, we can all make a difference, and you are in a country and in a City that allows you to do that. We can all participate in our own level and this is what I want to do and I think I have been doing really well the past four years and hope the voters agree. “
Claudia Mariaca holds a Bachelor degree in Economics and Finance and is fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, which has allowed her to communicate and understand the needs of a broad portion Doral residents and business owners during her time in office. She has strong ties with parents and educators in the city, for her long-time involvement with PTSA’s at local public schools and her participation as member on different committees at the School Board.
She served as Vice Mayor in 2018 and as board member on the Miami-Dade County League of Cities and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) among other organizations. The main focus of her tenure as Councilwoman has been on supporting the City operation with efficiency, transparency, and financial responsibility, and championing projects and legislation to improve traffic safety, education and living conditions in the city; enhancing youth development, and expanding cultural programs.
“The ability to have a good financial structure is something we are seeing 100% with the COVID issue. […] that is what reserves are for. They are for an emergency. People ask, what Emergency? And living in Florida we think about hurricanes, but we are dealing with an emergency right now that is definitely longer than a hurricane and it is something that affects every single person that lives or works in the City of Doral. I believe we have done a really good job with our budget, in making sure our monies are applied in the right areas and we have a healthy reserve to deal with situations like this.
“As infrastructure, we’ve added parks; we passed a park bond that is going to lead us into the future of the ten year plan in terms of green space, so I believe we are moving in the right direction as well. We have added a few more street openings and we continue to look for other options to ease the traffic issue that has always been a problem in Doral.
Main issues to focus the next four years
“There is still a lot to do! Doral is one of the fastest growing cities in Florida, […]. We have to make sure the budget continues in the right direction and the tax dollars are being applied correctly. I want to make sure that the bond continues to be applied and overseen by a committee, to make sure all those projects are handed to the community on time and on budget if not under budget hopefully.
“There is still more work to do in making sure we improve the quality of life; that we find options for public transportation. […] There is a lot that needs to be improved with Miami-Dade County; I want to make sure that we work closely with them, that we are allowed to do a little more work independently, so projects do not take so long for the City of Doral to do.
“I believe there is still a lot that we can do in promoting HOA reform in Tallahassee, that is something we have really pushed in the past 2 years and there is still work that needs to be done there, […] we need to make sure we have representation that will take this to Tallahassee and continue to remind them we need reform. Obviously there is always going to be work here. It is something I am passionate about and I hope I can continue doing it for another four years.”
Rafael Pineyro has been training to work in Public Service since college. He holds a BA in Public Administration and a Master in Psychology. He worked for Miami-Dade County Parks and Recreations Department, the Williamson County Court System, and in May 2015 was hired as Chief of Staff for the City of Doral, a position where he worked for Mayor Boria and later for Mayor Bermudez. In 2017, Pineyro resigned the position to run for office as established in the Doral Charter.
Initially, he registered as candidate for Doral’s Seat 4, but later withdrew that candidacy to challenge José “Pepe” Diaz on his reelection campaign for Miami-Dade County Commissioner.
This time around, Pineyro decided to run for Councilman on Seat 1, with a platform that looks forward to “Develop new ideas to make Doral a city of progress and opportunity”. He looks forward to being a voice for positive change in the community and to “create and build partnerships for the future”.
Pineyro lives in Doral with his wife and his young son. He is very close to his broad family, especially his grandparents, who also live in Doral and inspire him to promote if elected, the enhancement of programs for seniors in the community.
Three goals for the community
“When you decide to live in a community it is because that community really represents who you are and what you want to be in the future, […] when we speak about my vision, what would be my goals as your next councilmember, number one we really need to bring the community together, especially during these hard times, because we are in the middle of a crisis.
“We need to provide a direct assistance to our small business owners and our residents as well, […]. We count on the resources and all the tools to provide assistance to our business owners and residents. We have a program that we are still working on that is called “Doral after the Pandemic” that will provide short term and long term solutions directly to our small business owners and to our residents
“Two, for me something that is very important is going back to the basics to the community. We need to provide educational, cultural, and recreational activities to our residents, not only our children but our senior citizens. That is what really matters in a community, what really makes a real difference in everybody’s life. […] I think it is about time the City provides an after school program as a City, not with a private vendor. […] There are families with more than one child that cannot afford the fees now. We would do partnerships where we can work on providing scholarships for that program with that provider.[…] But when I speak about new programs, […] if we have the facilities and staff and resources why do not start implementing those programs for the residents as a municipality?
“Number three one of the main goals is to expedite, reform, review our permitting and licensing process. It has been a problem I believe for the all the years since we have been incorporated. When I worked in the city, it was a complain, and after I left it was the same complain heard in the streets. If we do not take a look at what other municipalities have done in order to expedite the process for any type of business in the city to open, I think we are going to actually create more barriers and people are going to start looking at other cities to open instead of Doral.
“We need a more practical approach”
“When I ran as County Commissioner I believed back then and I still believe, we need to take a more practical approach towards our local issues. At that position, I was looking to create a bigger impact in how to better and quicker serve our residents in Miami Dade County, including Doral which is part of the district.
“Why run for Council: Because I am going back to my basics, to my community. Why as a councilmember instead of Mayor? At some point I was considering doing it […] I worked as Chief of Staff for the previous Mayor and for the current Mayor. I believe in politics you have to be all the time thankful and humble about your decisions. I wouldn’t go against the person that I worked with, we might have different political views about how to do things but as an individual, the way I have been raised and my family values, as an individual I wouldn’t do it.
“On the Council seat, […] I would be that voice on the dais that speaks up what residents are complaining about and how we can make productive changes now and looking into the future. […] I will be an independent voice to say what we need to change or review or to keep looking into the future.
“There is nothing wrong on recognizing issues or problems and I believe that is something that we are missing from the current City Council. […] we need to recognize that we have problems and we need to fix those problems.
The future of Doral
“I would love to see a city where technology plays a factor, where we have a mobility, transportation, connectivity plan in place, […] where we offer a reliable, modern technologically transportation system, connected with the county’s […] we need to go with a vision that can connect all main streets in our city with the Miami-Dade County transportation system.
“In ten years I would like to see our Convention Center infrastructure in the City, more green spaces taken into consideration in our future projects. I do not want to see more mix of industrial and residential or new developments. […] I envision a city still safe for our children, with one of the best school systems that we can have, […] a city that becomes attractive to new industries, where our next generations can stay, work and study here, instead of going to other cities because they cannot afford to be here.
“I envision that this becomes a city where everything is connected, where unity places a factor. I believe we are missing that component of unity as residents.