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Florida mayor abruptly resigns, citing ongoing corruption

Matthew Pigatt of Opa-locka pledged transparency and reform when he was elected in 2016 in the midst of an FBI corruption probe.
Opa-locka Mayor Matthew Pigatt, 35, stood up after the commission's public comment period on Wednesday night and announced his resignation in a prepared speech.
Opa-locka Mayor Matthew Pigatt, 35, stood up after the commission's public comment period on Wednesday night and announced his resignation in a prepared speech. [ City of Opa-locka ]
Published Nov. 11, 2021

OPA-LOCKA — The mayor of a small South Florida city abruptly resigned from office during a commission meeting, saying he would “not be a figurehead for corruption.”

Opa-locka Mayor Matthew Pigatt, 35, stood up after the commission’s public comment period on Wednesday night and announced his resignation in a prepared speech. It was not on the agenda for the meeting.

Pigatt pledged transparency and reform when he was elected to a commission seat in 2016 in the midst of an FBI corruption probe. He made a similar promise in 2018 when he was elected mayor.

“Those who stand up for what is right do not last long in this system,” he said. “Everything will be shared when it will do the most good.”

Pigatt made references to continuing City Hall corruption, though he did not note any specifics.

He said he believed the city had made some steps in the right direction, including submitting overdue financial audits and a five-year recovery plan to the state.

“Despite all of these accomplishments, in this position of mayor I could not stop corruption,” he said. “The reformers within the government are outnumbered by those who want to compromise, maintain the status quo and promote themselves over the people.”

The Miami Herald reported that Pigatt had repeatedly had disagreements with City Manager John Pate, who was hired in 2019. They had accused each other of misconduct and abuse of power.

“There are, of course, some in this very room and some sitting on this dais who are breathing a sigh of relief, believing that I’m finally going away,” Pigatt said. “As always, they could not be more incorrect in their hopes and pride.”

He then collected his belongings and left the meeting. He later posted his resignation on his Instagram page.

Vice Mayor Veronica Williams, who was elected last year, will replace Pigatt as mayor until the term ends next November. Opa-locka is in Miami-Dade County.

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