A natural entrepreneur, Orlando Lopez, grew up around his family business. Working at the family business from a young age, Lopez gained a keen understanding of budgets and finances. He went on to run several successful businesses, including the most recent real estate investments. In 1999, Lopez moved to Sweetwater and, shortly after, became involved in the community. His passion for public service led him to run for city commissioner in 2001. After serving 14 years, he was elected Mayor of Sweetwater on May 12, 2015. His willingness to continue making Sweetwater an evolving City lead him to run for office in 2019. Lopez was re-elected Mayor of the City of Sweetwater on May 28 ,2019.
Under the City's strong Mayor form of government, Lopez serves as the City Manager, overseeing all of the City's Departments and Finances. As a successful businessman, investor, and former member of the Sweetwater City Commission, Lopez brings a wealth of business and institutional knowledge. As a forward-thinking, modern-day Mayor, Lopez is dedicated to aligning all city efforts to the University City vision and to modernize the deployment of municipal services.
Since taking office, 4th Street Commons, the second in a series of four potential student-housing buildings sites, opened its doors, providing luxury condo housing to more than 600 FIU (Florida International University) students. The City has also broken ground on a pedestrian sky bridge that will cross over from 109th avenue in Sweetwater directly into FIU with added green space on the city side. This comes as part of a Tiger Grant award in partnership with FIU, that will provide safety for the students crossing SW 8th street and be a state-of-the-art landmark for our City.
Continuing with this vision, the City is now competing for a Tiger II grant to beautify and convert 109 Avenue into the historic and downtown area of Sweetwater. This new area will be transformed into a pedestrian-friendly area, including a lush tree canopy of Live Oak and Silver Buttonwoods, received as part of a Million Trees Miami grant awarded the City in the summer of 2016. This canopy will provide shade and continue to expand the City's walkability ratio.
In addition, Mayor Lopez's vision for modernization includes expanding the City's transportation services, with additional circulators and trolleys. Through a partnership with the Transportation Management Authority, students and residents will have access to a software application through which they can access the estimated arrival time, further facilitating their capacity to commute within the City and to the University.
Mayor Lopez has also encouraged and helped foster the development of a 63-acre parcel of land slated to break ground for construction in approximately three years, between 12th and 14th street along 107th -111th avenues. The project, in its entirety, is slated to bring four hotels, office space, entertainment areas, and 40,000 square feet of commercial area to the City of Sweetwater.
Mayor Lopez has also focused the efforts of his administration on transparency, accountability, and shedding light on the City's historically flawed budgetary practices. As part of his dedication to transparency, he has reached out to State and Federal Agencies to ensure best practices are standard throughout all city departments.
Mayor Lopez was born in Miami Beach, Florida. He is the son of Cuban immigrants. He grew up mostly in Westchester and graduated from Belen Jesuit Preparatory School. He later attended Miami-Dade Community College. He enjoys spending time in the Florida Keys surrounded by family and friends. He has been a resident of Sweetwater for 17 years and continues to live at the same address with his wife Belkys, step-daughter Abby and his dog Luna.