Jose "Pepe" Diaz
Mayor Jose “Pepe” Diaz has unequivocally served the Sweetwater community longer than any leader in the City’s history. A Sweetwater resident since 1968, Mayor’s Diaz history with the City begins as an auxiliary police officer in 1984, a position upon which he embarked shortly after being honorably discharged from the US Marine Corps. In 1986, Diaz began his career in public service as Chairman of the City of Sweetwater Police Retirement Trust Fund Board. For the next seven years, he served on the City of Sweetwater Commission for two terms from 1993 until 2001. He was elected Mayor of Sweetwater in May of 2001.
Upon entering office as Mayor, Diaz faced several back-to-back catastrophic storms that were historically unprecedented and that ultimately resulted in catastrophic losses of property and infrastructure to the City of Sweetwater. These Floods were egregious to the extent that residents utilized canoes to travel throughout the City. During each storm, Mayor Diaz personally aided those affected the most, such as the seniors in the community, by helping them evacuate from their flooded homes, and organizing several relief efforts. He spent countless hours lobbying in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., speaking to former President Bill Clinton himself to acquire the funds necessary for a Comprehensive Street Drainage Master Plan, which through a phased approach would address flooding issues in the city. Throughout the ensuing years, as a mayor and as a County Commissioner, Diaz worked with local and state emergency management teams to prevent future flooding. Former Governor Jeb Bush appointed Diaz to the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, where he advised on proposed regulations that could adversely affect West Miami-Dade’s water levels. In the present, and dozens of pump stations later; major flooding is an issue of the past in Sweetwater — and a best practice to other municipalities seeking to resolve flooding issues.
Throughout his tenure, he committed himself to being an engaged public servant, which garnered him the Hispanic Leadership Award. In addition, he spearheaded the "Seniors Never Alone" program, which ensures that enrolled seniors receive a call at least twice a week so they wouldn't feel alone and help support them emotionally which is operated by the Switchboard of Miami, Inc. Mayor Diaz was a strong advocate for the safety of our children by creating the "child safety zone," prohibiting registered sex offenders from loitering in places typically frequented by children. He also advocated for harsher penalties for those convicted of human and sex trafficking, particularly involving minors. Also, he supported the Safe Harbor Act, which provides safe houses and treatments for young trafficking victims.
From 2002 - 2023, Mayor Diaz served as County Commissioner for District 12, which includes the cities of Doral, Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens, Medley, Sweetwater, Virginia Gardens, and a large portion of unincorporated Miami-Dade County. He was first elected as commissioner in September 2002. He also served as the Vice-Chairman of the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners from 2009-2010. Commissioner Diaz also served in various capacities on on practically in every County committee of the County Commission throughout his tenure. As a proud and die-hard member of the Marine Corps, Mayor Diaz proudly chaired the Military Affairs Board.
When three severe hurricanes struck the County, Diaz sprung into action to immediately offer assistance by organizing relief efforts, collecting supplies, and procuring funding. He also championed community engagement by hosting hundreds of free events for families across our county.
On the international level, while commissioner, Diaz served as Chairman of the International Trade Consortium Board, advocating for trade and forging partnerships with other nations. In March 2010, Commissioner Diaz was appointed by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to serve on the Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee on Trade (IGPAC) and was reappointed twice. In this capacity, Diaz is one of several committee members chosen to advise, consult with, and make recommendations to the U.S. Trade Representative and the president’s administration from the perspective of local governments. He also served as Chairman of the Jay Malina International Trade Consortium (ITC) until January 2006. During his tenure, Diaz was instrumental in making profitable connections for businesses on behalf of Miami-Dade County with the Caribbean and Latin America. In addition, he toured several Asian cities in 2005 (Tianjin, Hong Kong, and Shanghai), met with government officials and business organizations to promote trade partnerships, and participated in a ceremony to mark a joint venture between Florida International University and Tianjin University of Commerce. Diaz secured a cooperative agreement for the County with Tianjin’s Municipal People’s Government.
His career as a County Commissioner culminated with the distinction of serving as Board of County Commissioners Chairman — a designation to which he was appointed unanimously by his fellow County Commissioners — in the year of 2021–22.
As a County Commissioner, Diaz’s career was marked by distinctions and superlatives. Amongst his transformational initiatives and projects that positively changed Sweetwater, Miami-Dade County, and the entire South Florida region for the better were:
- As a member of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee, he strongly advocated for the USS Gridley, which became the first Navy warship to be commissioned in Miami on February 10, 2007.
- He also organized Miami-Dade’s historic Golden Veterans Parade and 50th Anniversary Commemoration on Nov. 8, 2013 to give Vietnam veterans the long-overdue proper homecoming they deserved.
- He sponsored the notable legislation “Project Green Light” to honor the Veterans in which every county building will be lit up GREEN from November 7th to the 13th to show support.
- In 2010, he sponsored and successfully secured an annexation that expanded the City of Sweetwater by nearly 1.5 miles of land to the North of the City containing the Dolphin Mall along with hundreds of commercial, industrial and office properties.
- In December 2021, Diaz also sponsored and approved the annexation of nearly two square miles west of the Dolphin Mall area. This led to greater diversification of Sweetwater’s economy.
- Under his leadership as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Miami-Dade County Sports Commission, the Sports Commission created a local bid committee to support Miami as a host city for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and also coordinated a massive block party on Brickell Avenue to support bringing the FIFA World Cup to the United States.
- Mayor Diaz was honored by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau with the 2013 Miami Magnet Award for his leadership in bringing the WWE WrestleMania XXVIII to Miami-Dade County in April 2012. The event generated $102.7 million in economic impact for Miami –Dade County.
- He played a major role in bringing two Super Bowls to our county, as well as the Formula One racing series, which has an annual economic effect of $349 million and provides over $100 million in salaries and compensation to more than 3,000 locals.
- He spearheaded the design and delivery of the Park-and-Ride facility next to the Dolphin Mall, within Sweetwater city limits, that gives residence access to every part of Miami-dade County by way of bus rapid transit, and the Miami International Airport MIC.
- In 2022, Diaz presented a resolution last year as Chairman of the Miami-Dade County Board of Commission a resolution, declaring the Friday before National Police Week every year as Law Enforcement Appreciation Day in Miami-Dade County to honor our officers and recognize their significant contributions to our society's protection.
Despite serving on the Board of County Commissioners, Mayor Diaz never left Sweetwater. Throughout his tenure as Commissioner, Mayor Diaz appropriated over $20 million of mileage to the City in services ranging from millions of dollars in CDBG funding for continuous phases of drainage improvements, park renovations, yearly appropriations for senior services to COVID relief efforts during the pandemic. The Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners voted to approve Sweetwater’s Western annexation application, which Mayor Diaz sponsored as a commissioner on December 1, 2021, to expand the City’s boundaries. The newly-annexed area extends the City’s municipal boundaries two miles west, stretching out to NW 25th Street, NW 107th Avenue, NW 12th Street, and NW 137th Avenue. It is a primarily commercial area comprising several Fortune 500 companies such as Amazon, GOYA, and Telemundo. This annexation will spread the cost of services and infrastructure needs in the community and allow the City to reduce its mileage, thereby lessening the tax burden on working-class residents.
Now Diaz has returned home to finish what he started in the City of Sweetwater. On May 9, 2023, Jose “Pepe” Diaz was elected Mayor unopposed.
Mayor Jose "Pepe" Diaz was born in Pinar del Rio, Cuba. He arrived in Miami with his family in the '60s, seeking asylum from the Castro Dictatorship and has lived in Sweetwater since 1968. Mayor Diaz is a devoted family man, married to Maria Diaz for over 30 years, and has three daughters, Monique, Krystal, and Celine, who were all born and raised in the City of Sweetwater. Not only is he a husband and a father but also a grandfather of two with another one on the way.