Candidates Debated the Issues

Well, Most of Them Did

Candidates Debated the Issues

Last week, a series of three public forums set a grueling schedule for candidates for Winter Park Commission seats #3 and #4.

On Tuesday, February 9, the four faced off at Bush Auditorium at Rollins. Hosted by Rollins Democracy Project and WPRK, this first debate drew such a large crowd that the event had to be moved at the last minute to a larger venue. To Rollins’s credit, the debate, moderated by former member of the Florida House of Representatives Dick Batchelor, began only three minutes behind schedule.

An early morning debate Friday, February 12, at the Welcome Center, sponsored by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and moderated by Chamber CEO Patrick Chapin, drew a similarly robust crowd.

Feb. 10 No-Shows

Unlike the other two events, however, the debate on Wednesday, February 10, was not a ‘face-off.’ Seat #3 candidate Lambrine Macejewski and candidate for Seat #4 Peter Weldon both pulled out at the last minute, leaving the stage to incumbents Carolyn Cooper and Tom McMacken. Nonetheless, there was a substantive discussion, sparked by probing questions from a large audience, and moderated by Orange County League of Women Voters co-President Michele Levy.

“Disappointing News” for Macejewski

In a letter to her supporters written at 4:34 p.m. on the day of the debate, addressed to “Dear Team Lambrine,” Macejewski wrote: “Disappointing News: I made the tough call to withdraw from the Winter Park Voice Candidate Forum after learning some of their unsavory information and activities. Please view my open letter to Anne Mooney of the WPV and also attached is her personal poll responses. Again, I don’t mind that she has a personal bias. What I object to, as demonstrated in her last article defending my opponent, is their activist nature. Winter Park Voice is acting more like a PAC not a paper.”

The “open letter” Macejewski refers to in this email was written February 9 at 2:16 p.m. You can see the entire text of the email (and the poll responses) by going to

Weldon Follows Suit

Following Macejewski’s lead, Candidate Peter Weldon wrote on February 9 at 4:09 p.m., “I will participate in the Wednesday debate if and only if you publicly disclose the names, addresses, payment dates, and dollar amounts received from all contributors to Winter Park Voice since inception. You can send that information to my email address . . . and to and”

Observer Reporter Tim Freed confirmed that Weldon has never asked for the Winter Park/Maitland Observer subscriber list.

Debates Taped Live

You can see the debates by clicking on the links below. The fourth debate, which is the final one open to the public, will take place Friday, February 19 at Noon at the Winter Park Public Library. The Voice will tape that debate and post it on this website.

In Closing — Editor’s Note:  The opinion poll in question was a live telephone poll. The pollster declined to divulge who had paid for the poll, saying he was unable to do that. He and his supervisor also refused to provide a transcript of the questions. If you are interested, you can now read the full text of those questions in the link embedded in Macejewski’s “open letter.”

Political opinion polling is taken to a new level when the candidate whose campaign paid for the poll can access the individual responses of any citizen who was contacted. The next logical step in this ‘data mining’ process might be the compilation of a “Frenemies List,” to identify respondents perceived by the candidate as friends or enemies. Such information might prove useful to any future campaign that hires the same political consultant who arranged this poll. It might not, however, be in the overall best interests of the small city that is Winter Park.


Rollins College Debate

Part 1

Part 2


Winter Park Voice Debate

Part 1

Part 2

Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Debate

Part 1

Part 2

  • author's avatar

    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

  • author's avatar

8 replies
  1. Silver Lining says:

    What a gift Lambrine and Pete gave Winter Park Voice and the incumbents! Can’t buy this kind of publicity. Will be even better if the candidates would have a “campaign flyer war” over the matter. One side claiming the other was “chicken” for not debating (perhaps with a photo of the empty seats). And the other blaming that darn “bias” news mag Winter Park Voice for their cold feet. Great way to draw attention to Winter Park Voice and get lots more new life long loyal readers!

  2. Beth Hall says:

    In determining the relative merits and intrinsic value of the Winter Park Voice one need look no further than the current article: “The $30 Million Question” about the referendum on the bond issue for the proposed library.

    The piece does not attempt to tell readers how to vote or how to feel about the referendum. The reader is left to determine his own stance. What has even greater relevance is that there are already 21 comments from members of the community- pro and con.

    The most telling thing is that The Voice is a forum where citizens feel free to speak their minds. Some do so anonymously, some do not. Personally, I value such an inclusive and open forum for the airing of viewpoints. Posts are moderated for profanity and the like- but not for point of view. (Compare and contrast Winter Park Perspective. Weldon cannot make the same claim.)

    I find it alarming that any candidate for city office would attempt to stifle, censor, intimidate, inhibit, or “expose” Anne Mooney – or any other citizen who visits, values, reads or writes on the WP Voice site. Such conduct does not embody our treasured American values including freedom of the press or freedom of speech.

    All citizens are at liberty to visit the WP Voice website or to elect NOT to visit it. Paying attention to the Voice is not mandatory; it is voluntary. The weight which one assigns to its content rests solely with the individual.

    As for the well co-ordinated boycott of the Community Center debate, the fact is that the debate was not actually conducted by Anne Mooney or the WP Voice. The Voice was merely the sponsor. Just as the library debate scheduled for this very Friday will be, it was moderated in its entirety by the League of Women Voters of Orange County.

    Questions from the audience were never seen by nor screened by Anne Mooney. They were all handed off directly to League volunteers and posed by the League moderator. Are the no show candidates suggesting that the League of Women Voters personnel were acting in concert with the WP Voice to slant the debate? Or were they just trying to put Anne Mooney “in her place”? If the candidates do not trust the League of Women Voters of Orange County to be fair in the conduct of any debate which The League moderates then they’d best be issuing press releases stating they will be no shows on Friday too.

    I am for more sources for information, not fewer. I believe the WP Voice is a valuable asset to the community. Let freedom ring!

    • Ed Sabori says:

      Beth, Let’s not shift the topic to the library referendum, nor is the issue that candidates want to stifle Ann Mooney/ WP Voice and others from providing their opinions. However, after reading Ann Mooney/WP Voice’s fierce defense of Commissioner Cooper in a previous editorial, as a candidate, I too would have wanted to feel more comfortable about unbiased coverage of the debate by its’ sponsor. Seems to me WP Voice failed in that respect. At least Pete Weldon makes no bones about who pays for his opinions and encourages all to find fault with his facts and his logic. As the old saying goes, “please don’t pee on my shoes and tell me it’s raining.” Finally, as much as I appreciate the League of Women Voters, many of the folks in attendance, including myself, felt they could have stepped up their game.

      • Beth Hall says:

        Ed, The post by me was from February 15th- a full 17 days ago. Hence, it referenced “The $30 Million Question” as the “current Voice” article because 17 days ago, it WAS ! I make no other reference to the bond issue, nor do I suggest anywhere how others ought to be voting on it. I also pointed out that so many people commented on the $30 Million Question because they were interested and the Voice gave them an OPEN forum in which to do so.

        The underlying POINT of my post , if you read it, was to point out what I consider to be the relative merits of the WP Voice. (Not to discuss the Library).

        My passing mention of Weldon is in reference to his blog where he feels free to omit /screen out any posts which contain FACTS he does not like and which do not suit his purpose. For this reason it has NO value to me.

        In marked contrast to Pete, The WP Voice does NOT do what Pete does ie screen out opposing facts.

        Opinion posts to the Voice are edited for profanity and similar- they are not ever omitted due to disagreement with their content. All opinions are permitted and for this reason I would go even further to state that all opinions are encouraged.

        BTW, the League of Women Voters moderated two (2) debates. You attended but one of these. A different League moderator was at the Community Center debate. She did a super job. Sorry you missed it !

        Visits to the WP Voice are optional, not mandatory. Those who do not like it or who find it objectionable have a choice- simply opt not read it.

        You says Pete “makes no bones about who pays for his opinions”. Is he for sale?

        • Ed Sabori says:

          Just give one example of Pete omitting opposing statement and I’ll apologize and shut up once I confirm with him.

          • Beth Hall says:

            If you will give me your e-mail address I will forward Pete’s e-mail from him as well as what he declined to print. It was during the last mayoral race and it had to do with something MacKinnon called Leary out on during a debate.
            I respected his right to censor content b/c it is his site but I never visited WP Perspective again.

  3. Martha Hall says:

    I attended the debate at The WP
    Community Center and to my surprise,
    I didn’t see the opponents for seat 3 & 4!
    How can the Candidates represent all of the
    people when they refuse to participate in
    the Candidate Debates? All residents and
    voter needed to hear the plans from all

  4. Beth Hall says:

    Pete also made it clear that it absolutely his intent to be “one sided” on his site. It’s his site and his “perspective”. That he wished for others to challenge that perspective. But I guess what I had to say was a little too “challenging” For WP Perspective.


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