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Sweetwater Police Officer Named New City Commissioner

SWEETWATER (CBSMiami) -- The City of Sweetwater has a new commissioner.

Catalino Rodriguez was appointed in the wake of the recent shake up at city hall.

Rodriguez, who until Monday night was an officer with the Sweetwater Police Department, was chosen to fill the seat left vacant when Jose M. Diaz assumed the position of mayor after former Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño was suspended following an FBI investigation and his arrest in August.

Maroño is accused of accepting bribes.

Rodriguez, 68, was sworn in as his wife looked on with pride.

"I want to implement new ways of improving services to this community," Rodriguez told CBS 4's Lauren Pastrana. "There are things I believe need to be changed."

He said he'd like to work on public transportation in the city.

Rodriguez was nominated for the position by Commissioner Orlando Lopez, despite the fact he didn't submit to a background check or turn in a resume like the other hopefuls, many of whom spoke at Monday's meeting.

"I know Catalino, he's an an excellent person," Mayor Jose M. Diaz said. "But I think that it was not equitable the way in which he was nominated."

Rodriguez handed over his letter of resignation to Police Chief Roberto Fulgueira immediately after his new gig was made official.

"I'm too old. I'll be 69 this month," Rodriguez said. "Believe me, my days as a police officer are done."

While the selection process was in line with the city's charter, some would have preferred a special election.

Resident Deborah Centeno presented 220 signatures to the commission asking for a special election and vowed to start a recall petition.

"Unfortunately we can't trust in the actual commission" Centeno said in a planned press conference before the meeting.

Mayor Diaz said he is looking into hiring consultants to take a closer look at city, including the police department.

Rodriguez said he knows going in, he'll have his work cut out for him.

"After almost 30 years of service as a police officer, I've seen many things, not that were wrong, but that weren't right," he said.

In addition to filling the commission seat vacancy, the board selected Orlando Lopez as the Vice President of the Commission.


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