Mayor & Council



Mayor Spencer Deno comes from a pioneer family of the Village. He is also the youngest elected Mayor in Virginia Gardens and one of the youngest in Miami-Dade County. Spencer Deno IV, a native son, and the 2nd Mayor to be born and raised in the Village. He was born to Marilyn and Spencer Deno III July 7, 1973 and was raised in the Village of Virginia Gardens with his siblings Tanya, Carl & Chris. Mayor Deno has lived in the Village for over 30 years. Mayor Deno’s maternal grandparents Carl & Florene Groh, pioneer residents of Miami Springs, lived in Miami Springs for over 50 years and were the first couple to be married in Blessed Trinity Catholic Church in Virginia Gardens. His paternal grandparents, Fred and Nancy Deno Jr., were pioneer residents and lived in Virginia Gardens for over 50 years. His parents Spencer and Marilyn Deno have been living in Virginia Gardens for over 35 years. His mother Marilyn was elected Council President in 1991 and served a four-year term. His father, Spencer III is co-athletic director for the Village and is dedicated to helping the youth in sports activities. Mayor Deno has been married to his wife Sandra for nineteen years and they have two children-Alyssa, age 17 and Spencer V, age 16. Mayor Deno attended Miami Springs Elementary and Middle school and graduated from Miami Springs Senior High School. He attended Tennessee Wesleyan College on a soccer scholarship and also attended Miami Dade-Community College. He Graduated from Barry University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration. He has been working for the United States Postal Service for the past eighteen years and is a Plant Safety Specialist . Mayor Deno served as co-athletic director for the Village in 1993-95. He was the youngest elected council member of the Village when he was council president in 1997 and was re-elected council president in 2001. Spencer Deno IV has proven his leadership within the community not only as a council member for six years and currently as Mayor but also with hands-on involvement with all parts of the Village. He has been actively within the youth activities for over twenty years.

You may contact Mayor Deno in writing at:
The Village of Virginia Gardens
6498 N.W. 38th Terrace
Virginia Gardens, FL 33166
or by e-mail at:


Ms. Conover has been a resident of this community for over 50 years. She attended Blessed Trinity Catholic School and then continued on and graduated from Immaculata LaSalle High School in 1980. She obtained her certification as a Paralegal and worked in the legal field for 10 years. She later returned to Florida International University to finish her Bachelor’s in education, a Master’s in Educational Media and certification in Educational Leadership. Ms. Conover has been employed with the Miami-Dade County Public School system for the past 24 years.

Ms. Conover feels Virginia Gardens is a wonderful place to live and raise children. She has 2 children, Victoria, 18 and Nicholas, 14 and they are all members of Blessed Trinity Catholic Church.

She has been an active voice in the community concerning the flooding, along with helping to secure funds from South Florida Water Management for the flood mitigation project. She helped petition and spoke at various zoning and council meetings against the operation of assisted living facilities in our neighborhood and is currently the council president and liaison to the Police Department. She has been on the council for the past 12 years and her goal is to provide responsible leadership and serve this community fairly with integrity and accountability.


Councilman Steven Petterson was born in San Mateo, California and was raised in Los Angeles California and Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. After graduating from North Hills High School in Pittsburgh he matriculated from California University of Pennsylvania in 1972, with a B.S. in Secondary Education.

Mr. Petterson subsequently relocated back to Los Angeles where he attended Loyola Marymount University and concurrently began his career in the air cargo industry. Employed in the cargo department of Scandinavian Airlines System he spent 19 years at LAX work for SAS as well as Gateway Freight Services.

He relocated to Winter Park Florida in 1989 and was employed a regional director for Air General Inc covering the cities of Atlanta, Orlando and Tampa. During this time he was a board member of his community association his first experience with governing bodies and was also elected as President of the Orlando Air Cargo Association.

In 1994 he moved to Virginia Gardens and was hired as the General Manager of Advance Cargo Services at Miami International Airport. He has been an instructor at Miami Dade Community College. During the period 1998 to 2004 Mr. Petterson served as a guide at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens where he introduced thousands of persons from various parts of the world to this wonder of culture and architecture in our own backyard. His hobbies include art, architecture, stamp collecting and travel.

After serving as a member of the planning and zoning board he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the village council and was re-elected in 2001.

Mr. Petterson’s goals include keeping Virginia Gardens a well-run, fiscally responsible, small town oriented place to live and to that goal has supported the annexation of adjacent areas that will ensure our property taxes remain some of the lowest in the county while our public services remain some of the finest in the county


Ms. Taylor-Martinez is originally from North Carolina, the only child of Kenneth Luther Leatherman and Ora Elizabeth (Hoyle) Leatherman, moving to the Miami Springs-Virginia Gardens area in 1968. Ms. Taylor-Martinez attended Miami Springs Junior High School, and was graduated from Miami Springs Senior High School in 1972. Ms. Taylor-Martinez has been a resident of the Village of Virginia Gardens since 1978. Ms. Taylor-Martinez is married to Hector Martinez, a physical education teacher for Miami-Dade County Public Schools who also teaches at Miami Springs Middle School. In addition, Hector retired from the United States Naval Reserves as a 1st Class Petty Officer after 22 and ½ years.

Ms. Taylor-Martinez has an Associates of Arts Degree from Miami-Dade Community College, a Bachelors of Science with Distinction Degree from Nova University, a Master’s Degree in Computer Technology from Barry University and certification in Guidance and Counseling also from Barry University at the Educational Specialist level. Ms. Taylor-Martinez has worked for the Miami-Dade County Public School System since 1978 and is currently the 7th Grade Counselor at Miami Springs Middle School. Ms. Taylor-Martinez began public service to the Village of Virginia Gardens with the Beautification Committee in 1989, and was later elected as Chairperson to fill this vacancy. The mission of the Beautification Committee has always been to keep our streets tree lined and beautiful. Ms. Taylor-Martinez resigned from the Committee in 1995 in order to run for public office for the position of Council Member, which is still held. In addition, Ms. Taylor-Martinez has also served as Council President for two terms.

The items that Ms. Taylor-Martinez has worked on, were the safe pools ordinance; applying for a grant for the Senior Citizens program; move to increase voter registration; getting residents to register with the Police Department prior to hurricanes if they have special needs; adequate drainage for the Village; annexation; Safe Parks Grant; and basically any other item or items that have come before the Village Council.

In all, Ms. Taylor-Martinez has proudly served the residents of the Village of Virginia Gardens since 1989.


Most important in my life, as I am sure that it is in yours, is my family. My wife Esther, 37 years my better half, my children Jerry, Kristi, Matthew and Christian, their wives and husbands, Tim, Deanna, Mariana and Gabriela and my four grandchildren, Jerry, Evan, Christian and Isabella. Without them, I am a ship without a rudder. On the personal side, I was born on November 14, 1942 and educated in New York City culminating at Fordham University where I graduated with a degree in Inter-American Relations. Commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force and schooled in signal intelligence, worked with the National Security Agency and specialized in the Middle East problem. Upon leaving the military with the rank of Captain, entered the business world and spent most of my career in the self employed world. This period ended with a 20 year span as an owner of a water well drilling company in Ecuador, South America. At 57 years of age I changed careers and went from a world of machines to a world of human relations. I worked for The Florida Department of Children and Families as a seniorcase manager with Judge Cohen in Drug Court and for you as your councilman. Presently, with the approval of the Mayor and the City Council I represent the Village of Virginia Gardens at The County, State and National levels of the Florida League of Cities. I also am an active member of the Dade Miami Boards which treat Criminal and Juvenile Problems in our County. In summation, I have been truly blessed and wouldn’t change my life here in Virginia Gardens for anything in the world.


Councilman Jorge Arce was born in Havana, Cuba, and came to the United States in 1962 at the age of 14 under the Pedro Pan airlift program to a foster home. Later that year he was joined by his parents and they were relocated to Michigan where he attended school. He went on to work for General Motors while also working part time as a translator for the Ingham County court system. In 1966 he married Barbara, and had two daughters Lisa and Tina, after 10 years of marriage they divorced.

In 1978 Jorge married Rosa and they had 3 daughters, Solangel, Shanin and Daniela. After massive layoffs in 1986 at several General Motors plants in the area, he decided to move his family to Miami for a new start.

He was employed at Armellini Express Lines for 18 year as a safety and driver recruiting manager then went on to work for Winn-Dixie distribution center as a dispatch supervisor and after 2 years he decided to retired.

He has been a resident of Virginia Gardens for the past 24 years and an active member of his community ,He currently represent the Village of Virginia Gardens at the Noise Abatement Advisory Board at Miami International Airport and also a member of the Miami Lakes Technical School Advisory Board CDL division.