BY RODOLFO ROMAN
SPECIAL TO THE MIAMI HERALD
Voters in this tiny Northeast Miami-Dade village must choose a mayor and two council members.
Three Village Council seats — including the mayor’s — are at state in El Portal’s Nov. 2 election.
Early voting already has begun.
Incumbents Mayor Joyce A. Davis, Vice Mayor Harold E. Mathis Jr. and Linda Marcus all face challengers. Councilwoman Claudia V. Cubillos won Seat 2 after her opponent, former Mayor Anna Ward, dropped out of the race.
Seat 3 will be determined in a separate election 30 to 90 days after Nov. 2. Only one person, Omarr C. Nickerson, filed to run for that seat, but he didn’t qualify because he was not registered to vote in the village, according to the village clerk.
The village’s population is 2,479 according to the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.
Each voter gets to cast a ballot for mayor, Seat 1 and Seat 4.
Council members are paid $2,000 a year.
For the mayoral seat, Davis will face current council member Daisy Black, who served as mayor in the late 1990s.
Davis vows to balance the village budget, provide services for seniors and children, and avoid a tax increase.
“I have a proven track and numerous results to prove that during my administration, El Portal had flourished in spite of the economic downturn that the entire country is experiencing,” she said. “I will continue with the progressive leadership as I have employed for the previous 2 years.”
Her opponent said she will bring experience if she were elected to the Mayoral position.
“I think there is a lack of training and cooperation in the council,” she said. “I have the experience there.”
Black was elected to the council in 2008. She also wants to be cautious of the village’s finances and wants to bring back a part-time code enforcement officer, a position that was eliminated a year ago. Currently, police officers take care of code enforcement duties.
Both candidates agree that state and federal grants could help pay for community services.
For Seat 1, Mathis, will face off against political novice Marcus Parramore, 22.
Although he is a fresh face to the political arena, Parramore is not a stranger to El Portal. He has lived in the village for over 15 year, except for college. If elected, he hopes to bring transparency between the council and the community adding that residents aren’t aware of their elected officials.
“In order to move forward it’s vital to establish a clear connection between the leadership and residents,” he wrote in an e-mail. “I want to do that by creating an informative, festive, reader-friendly newsletter that will reach everyone in El Portal.”
Parramore has been active in the community by serving food for the homeless among many efforts. He also plans to bring focus on economic development and community empowerment.
Mathis plans to dedicate his efforts on fiscal growth and community services and enhancements. During his term, he said he has reached out to major electronic companies to help El Portal’s green initiative.
“I have, with the assistance of the village administrative offices, contacted Blackberry and Apple to enlist as a test city to obtain the blackberry playbook and/or the Apple iPad to make the Village more electronic in its day to day operation and a truly `paperless village,’ for the most part,” he wrote in an e-mail.
For Seat 4, longtime Councilwoman Marcus, 43, faces political rookie, Sadri Manrique Medina, 32.
Marcus’ political platform focuses on fiscal growth, infrastructure maintenance and stewardship of multi-zoned areas along with the quality of life issues for villagers.
She would like the village to buy the Rader Memorial United Methodist Church site located at 205 NE 87th St.
“I have worked with three managers on this issue and I believe we are closer to a working proposition,” she wrote in an e-mail. “I have often wished for a city hall or community center flexible enough to fill a variety of uses and yet is not a fiscal drain.”
Her opponent wants to emphasize on building a stronger code enforcement committee and protect the core services for village families and retirees.
“I want to create a transparency between the village council and the people,” said Medina, who moved into the village about two years ago. “We want to create a closer bond.”
Medina, who recently got married at Village Hall, was born in Honduras and credits his family for getting involved with politics. Moving to the village has been a dream come true.
“I am here to stay. I am embedded to the community,” he said. “I’ll have an open door policy. I wanted to live in El Portal over 13 years ago.”