Manuel "Manny" Maroño began his public service career by becoming the youngest person elected to the City of Sweetwater commission at the age of 23. Since 1995, Maroño served as a city commissioner as well as the city commission president. He was elected mayor in 2003.
In his third mayoral term, Maroño successfully led a supported effort to annex nearly two-square-miles of commercial and industrial areas north of Sweetwater that include Dolphin Mall. The annexation tripled the city’s revenue, providing residents with more services and allowed the police department to expand to over 100 police officers.
With three universities within Sweetwater’s boundaries and Florida International University and a Miami Dade College campus just outside the city’s boundaries, Maroño is fulfilling his vision of creating a University City.
Sweetwater officials are slated to participate in ground breaking ceremony for a 15-story student and faculty apartment building this year located in the northeast corner of 109th Avenue and SW Seventh Street - directly across one of FIU’s main entrances.
Maroño led the initiative to change the zoning in this area to mixed-use residential to cultivate the University City vision and to beautify blighted and underused areas within the city.
At the forefront of positive change for the city he was born and raised in, Maroño passed a first-its-kind ordinance banning the sale of synthetic marijuana and synthetic cocaine in Sweetwater. At least five counties and several municipalities passed similar legislation after Maroño launched an educational campaign about the dangers of synthetic drugs via several local and national media outlets.
A synthetic drug symposium for parents, educators and law enforcement hosted by FIU and sponsored by Baptist Hospital will take place in April. It will be webcasted live and used by other municipalities nationwide as an educational tool.
During his first and second mayoral terms, Maroño secured over $10 million for stormwater drainage improvements that have been so successful that FEMA removed two areas in the city from the high-risk zone category, saving some residents thousands of dollars in flood insurance.
Maroño’s public service experience and tenacity in pushing forward projects that are transforming Sweetwater into a foreword thinking community will serve as the foundation for his position as the Florida League of Cities president.
Maroño helps raise funds for non-profits that include D’Amor Foundation for Autism, Love is Respect and Anthony’s Light. He has dedicated a police car to breast cancer research and another to autism awareness.
His civic activities include serving as a key advisor for state legislation on taser guns, establishing sister cities in Latin America and being an advocate for sexually abused children through his extensive work with Kristy House.
Maroño led the initiative to ban sexual predators from living within 2500 feet of a school or gathering place for children in Sweetwater. State Attorney General Pam Bondi has thanked him for helping her understand how widespread human trafficking is in Florida and being the catalyst for legislation aimed at stopping human-trafficking.