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Will Hialeah Mayor Esteban Bovo run for a new office? His fundraising is in full swing

In a significant election year in Hialeah, when four seats on the City Council will be contested, politicians have already launched their fundraising campaigns — even one who does not appear on the ballot: Mayor Esteban Bovo, Jr.

According to public election records, during the month of April, Bovo raised $207,249.99 through his A Better Hialeah political action committee. In total, he’s raised around $430,000 into the committee since winning the mayor’s race in November of 2021.

Bovo isn’t up for reelection until 2025. But that bounty, which includes thousands in recent contributions from companies with city business, gives Bovo significant resources to put behind other candidates and causes ahead of the November election.

He also has the option to spend the money on himself, at a later date.

Hialeah City Mayor Esteban Bovo Jr. chats with City Council President Mónica Pérez (right) and City Council Member Jesús Tundidor during a tense council meeting to discuss a possible Hialeah’s annexation of part of Brownsville, a historic African-American neighborhood in Miami-Dade County, on Tuesday, April 25, 2023. Pedro Portal/pportal@miamiherald.com

Bovo’s April fundraising has encouraged speculation that he might try for a rematch against Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who defeated Bovo in 2020, when they were both county commissioners. Bovo’s office, though, says he’s simply getting an early start on fundraising for his reelection bid in three years.

“He has no plans to run for another position,” a spokesperson told el Nuevo Herald.

Companies contracted by Hialeah donate funds to the mayor

According to this year’s campaign fundraising records for A Better Hialeah committee, in April, 17 of the 61 donors are companies located in Hialeah or that have direct ties to the municipal government. Another 13 belong to the real estate industry.

One of the contributors is The Corradino Group, the same company hired on April 12, 2022 to report on the feasibility of incorporating the Brownsville industrial area into Hialeah’s municipal jurisdiction.

On April 30 of this year, the company donated $5,000 to Bovo’s campaign. Previously, on June 24, 2022, it donated $5,000 to his PAC.

137 mobiles homes surround are in the area that Hialeah is planning to annex from the industrial area of Brownsville’s neighborhood Verónica Egui Brito/vegui@elnuevoherald.com
137 mobiles homes surround are in the area that Hialeah is planning to annex from the industrial area of Brownsville’s neighborhood Verónica Egui Brito/vegui@elnuevoherald.com

The most recent contribution from The Corradino Group was made just two months after the mayor’s office asked council members to approve “Engineering and Architectural Professional Services” to perform an impact analysis for the potential annexation of the industrial area of Brownsville. The hiring of this company cost the City $23,500.

Additionally, three companies — Grove 3205 Investments LLC, Greenbid LLC and CG Summer Investments LP — have listed corporate addresses in the same headquarters as Terra Group, a developer that proposed to build a new Hialeah City Hall. They donated $3,333.33 each to Bovo’s PAC, for a total of $9,999.99.

Terra Group made an unsolicited proposal to the City of Hialeah offering to build a new 20-acre government headquarters on 55 vacant acres located at 900 East 56th St. In exchange, the developers are asking to lease the land on the remaining 35 acres, with a 99 year lease.

Among the other Bovo donors that have contracts with the city is Visualscape INC, a landscape maintenance company that donated $5,000 to Bovo’s PAC on April 17.

This landscaping company has just reactivated a contract with the city for an amount that exceeds $274,000.

Earlier fundraising efforts

Another big month for Bovo’s campaign finances was June 2022, when A Better Hialeah raised $165,550 from 49 donors.

In that period, several donors stand out. Among them is Factory Town Holding LLC, the company that has created the entertainment movement in the eastern part of the city, which could benefit from the expansion of Hialeah if it incorporates the Brownsville industrial zone.

Another company that contributed to the PAC was School Development HC Finance LLC, whose manager, Ignacio Zulueta, is the co-founder of the for-profit charter school management company Academica.

In addition, the PAC was supported by Florida East Coast Industries, the parent company of the high-speed train operator Brightline.

Each of these companies donated $5,000 to the political committee for Bovo, who in addition to being the mayor of Hialeah is the chairman of the governing board of Miami-Dade’s Transportation Planning Organization (TPO.)

Unlike some other South Florida cities, the City of Hialeah does not prohibit companies contracted by the municipality from supporting campaigns of elected officials.

In Miami Beach, for example, candidates for the offices of mayor or city commissioner, as well as their campaign committees, may not directly or indirectly solicit, accept, or deposit any campaign contribution from a vendor or real estate developer in the city.