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 www.Lambrine.com/blog.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.”
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
Winter Park Voice Debate
Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Debate