A good sample of Doral community members
By: María Alejandra Pulgar @marialepulgar
DORAL, FL – Three residents are running for the Council seat that will be vacated by Vice Mayor Fraga this November. Their backgrounds are similar: they are family men who have for many years in their own fields devoted time and effort to serve the community and have a strong group of residents backing their candidacy. Since incorporation, this is one of the closest, more balanced races for a Doral Council seat.
Like every election, Doral Family Journal offers our readers the opportunity to meet Doral candidates for each seat in one place. This is the first of a 3-part series and we are starting with Seat #3.
Candidates received the same questions at the same time; were allowed to answer in the same period of time and with the same maximum of space. The questions versed on their motivations for running and their knowledge of Doral issues and government. We certainly appreciate they were very gracious following instructions and providing us with the answers timely. They are all great people with good intentions and the desire to serve. We hope this article allows the community to take a fair glance at their platforms, and make an informed decision coming November.
Who are the candidates?
Alberto Chávez was born in Nicaragua and immigrated to the United States with his family, who escaped persecution from the Sandinista regime, looking for a better life; has lived in the Doral area for more than 29 years.
Product of the Public School System of Miami-Dade County, sports and academics have been a fundamental part of his life, allowing him to earn a student-athlete scholarship to play football at Florida Atlantic University while studying Finance. He currently owns a financial services firm in the city.
He has two young sons with his wife Diana, and made Doral home since the very beginning of their marriage. The importance of education for Al prompted him to participate on the EESAC Board for John I. Smith K-8 Center and to start coaching football for young athletes in the City, where he has been a role model for families and their children. He served at the City of Doral Citizen’s Audit Advisory board and does volunteer work at several non-profit organizations.
Juan Carlos Esquivel
Juan Carlos Esquivel moved to the United States from his native Venezuela in 1977. Member of a tight-knit family, Esquivel has seen activism and community involvement from his Cuban immigrant father since very early in his life. He is a loving husband to his wife Nancy, has seven siblings, four children, and three grandchildren.
He is 54 years old and for more than 30 years has worked on logistics, creating jobs and generating economic activity not only in Doral but in others cities in the United States. He has brought his vast leadership experience in the private sector to serve as director of non-profit organizations, Ekklesia Miami and Mission Child, where he has worked on community advocacy, youth empowering, fostering civic values, and providing assistance to families and especially children affected by natural disasters.
Born in Venezuela, Puig has resided in Miami for 38 years, 20 of those in Doral. Oscar Puig has a lengthy story of public service. He is 53 years old and currently works as a successful real estate agent, serving as State Director of the Florida Association of Realtors.
With his wife Deidre and two children he made Doral home in the early years of decisions about incorporation and right away started participating on what would be the foundation of a new municipality. He has a deep knowledge of State, County and City government procedures and has served over the years at different boards of the City.
He was appointed to the First Doral Community Council as member of the organization One Doral. After that, he has participated as member of boards and committees within the City, such as the City of Doral Economic Advisory and Parks and Recreation Advisory Boards and the most recent Charter Review Committee.
On Current Doral Issues: “What have you identified as the main issue in Doral and what concrete actions would you propose to the Council to solve it once you are elected?”
Alberto Chávez: “If it were only that easy, to focus on one issue. I’ve made sure to address these concerns in my platform. I invite our constituents to please refer to my social media and website: www.alfordoral.com and @Alfordoral on Instagram & Facebook”.
Juan Carlos Esquivel: “There is a huge discontent from most of the residents. Our neighbors, the small and medium businesses have suffered the worse in this pandemic; they require a concrete aid solution to help them go through their economic issues. A lot of business have closed, now more than ever our Doral entrepreneurs need the support of their elected officials, after all, “Small businesses are the strongest base of our local economy”, I will start by reviewing our building, zoning permits, and code enforcement departments to avoid bureaucracy and simplify the process. Another big issue is the HOA, that for years have overpassed the boundaries of the state laws that in some cases want to have more power that the actual homeowner in their community. “This is one of my priorities”.
Oscar Puig: “Doral is an amazing city. In the few years since it was incorporated, the progress has been overwhelmingly positive. As a result of purposeful growth strategies and so many other factors, Doral continues to attract new residents and businesses”.
“I am a glass is half-full type of person, so I look at the city’s challenges as opportunities to strengthen relationships and bring people together to develop solutions. Whether it is the quality of life, traffic, the recycling facility, strengthening mass transit for easier and greater access to Doral, or business development opportunities, my approach is to surround myself with people who share my passion for Doral and who have the desire to help our City through its normal growing pains”.
“Building consensus and being a good listener have always helped me. Once elected, I plan to use these qualities to serve my constituents to the best of my abilities”.
On Independent Government: “How do you plan as an elected official to support and continue being vigilant of the preservation of Home Rule in Doral Government?”
Alberto Chávez: “At the moment, I am unaware of the need to be vigilant. I can assure you my position is one in which all rules will be followed”.
Juan Carlos Esquivel: “Our government is an administrative division of Miami-Dade as the Florida Constitution specifies within our designated territory, the residents of Doral empowered themselves to elect the Mayor and City Council to represent them. The job of an elected official is not an easy task, it requires commitment, hard work, and interaction with the residents to identify their needs, look after their safety and wellbeing. As an elected official I will be accessible, vigilant, and will work very hard for all the residents of my beautiful City of Doral”.
Oscar Puig: “As a former Charter Committee Board member, I recently participated in the revision of the Doral Charter (aka City constitution). The preservation of the Home Rule is key to our future and residents. The Home Rule gives the City of Doral the ability to establish and amend its charter and enact ordinances, codes, plans, and resolutions independently; Once elected, I would support continuing the committee reviews and maintaining a balanced and transparent City charter, giving our residents confidence in our governance”.
On Procedures to solve issues: “If given all decision power on an issue, what would be an ordinance you would pass immediately (within Constitution limits)?”
Alberto Chávez: “Without a doubt, it would be to completely pull the agenda of the recommendation to not have an election in our City the same year as our Nation’s GENERAL ELECTION, and the extension of our elected officials for an ADDITIONAL 18 months because of this suggested change. More voters come out during general elections, and what this suggestion does is minimize the participation of our residents to have the opportunity to have their voices heard.”
Juan Carlos Esquivel: “We have to address important issues like, the traffic, the cameras, the trolley, our park infrastructure, the abuse of the homeowners association, the abuse of power of the code inspectors in the approval process of permits and thousands of problems that affect our community. For the past 4 years the residents of Doral have seen an unbalance city government, to the extent that no matter what the issue, problem or solution may be, 4 out the 5 elected officials coincidentally are always in agreement. As an elected official if the final decision of an issue would rely on me, I will balance the arguments with my fellow council members and make the decision that will most benefit our city”.
Oscar Puig: “I believe small businesses are the backbone of our thriving city. In order for them to thrive, I would propose a review of the current permitting process with the goal of developing a more streamlined approach to obtaining permits in a faster and more efficient way. Additionally, I would study best practices by bringing together small business community in advertising and business development to find ways to help Doral’s small businesses grow”.
On Motivation and Community Service: “After you complete your tenure as elected official, what would you like to leave as legacy for Doral? “
Alberto Chávez: “After my tenure, I would like for my time and contribution in public office to be one where our constituents felt that their voices were truly heard and action was taken on their behalf. I want to be an inspiring figure to our younger residents and show them that one person can affect change”.
“Lastly, I will hope that my time in office and our Council’s contributions will be a time in which we have done our job to assure our residents that Doral continues to be the best place to call home in South Florida”.
Juan Carlos Esquivel: “I would love to leave a prosperous city, where each of our residents feels happy to belong to a community where they have all the tools to develop their lives. I want our residents to have quality of life, for their children to grow up in a calm environment where they feel they can achieve their dreams. That quality of life goes through making Doral a city of excellence, in education, in development, and in entertainment. I would love to provide a little more happiness for the people, now that happiness is a complement to a comprehensive environment that is the responsibility of the authorities that we choose as citizens and residents. I would love to contribute that the City of Doral will be the best city to live in the USA”.
Oscar Puig: “With so many needs and opportunities for the City of Doral, my legacy would fall way back in line in terms of priorities. I can tell you that I have always strived to be honest and to have dignity and integrity in everything I do and how I live my life. If I can make a difference by furthering the growth and quality of life for this great city, that would be a gift”.
Remember that voter registration for November 3rd general elections ends October 5th, Vote-by-mail ballot send deadline is October 1st and Early Voting will take place from October 24 – October 31.
Voting is your right and duty. Do not miss the opportunity to have your voice heard.