WP Mayor Leary Re-Elected

Low Voter Turnout

WP Mayor Leary Re-Elected

March 13, incumbent Steve Leary won a second term as Winter Park Mayor in a race featuring one of the lowest voter turnouts in recent memory. Of the approximately 21,000 registered voters, 4,602 cast votes. The tally was 3,313 for Leary and 1,289 for his opponent Jim Fitch.

In the last mayoral election in 2015, 6,722 voters cast ballots. Steve Leary defeated Cynthia Mackinnon by a narrow 302 vote lead. In 2012, 7,504 voters turned out to re-elect Mayor Ken Bradley. The count in that election was Bradley 5,381 to Nancy Miles’s 2,123.

Perhaps this year’s low turnout is not surprising, since to call the campaigns ‘low key’ would be an understatement. Even with what he described as a “limited campaign,” Fitch still garnered 28.01 percent of the vote.

“I am gratified by the support received by my stealth campaign,” Fitch told the Voice, “and I would not rule out another run for office or an appointment to a City Board.”

Mayor Leary has not responded to requests for comment, as of this writing.

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Editors Note: The Voice has received the following letters. First is a response to a post on the Facebook page of “Jim Fitch for Mayor.” The second is a response to City Manager Randy Knight from FL Representative Bob Cortes.

To the Editor:

On March 7 at 2:40 pm, Pitt Warner posted to the Face Book page of “Jim Fitch for Mayor.” Although Warner subsequently removed his comment, I still believe it deserves an answer.

Pitt Warner wrote, “If the election cost the city a few thousand $, I’d say let’s indulge you. But $50,000 cost of an election is real money. I see no benefit to you, the city, different factions in WP. A total waste of energy and time.”

We have a Mayor who used a State of the City address to attempt to shame all those who would dare to criticize actions taken during his tenure or to question his priorities and agenda.

Now we see a vocal and ubiquitous supporter of the mayor suggesting that the elections process in Winter Park needs to be curtailed in some way because the $50,000 cost is too great and it is a waste of energy and time.

Is it just me or is there something not only offensive in Mr. Warner’s remarks at the candidate’s FB page, but some darker, more sinister element in the faction that feels emboldened by what they see as a lopsided victory for Leary on Tuesday?

I feel the comments by Pitt Warner are disrespectful, and I believe they seek to undermine the very foundation of the rules by which we live in a free society.

Is the idea that someone must achieve a certain percentage of the vote before they’re entitled to file to run? Is the idea that opposition to a popular mayor ought not be permitted?

Some residents in Winter Park might feel that the donation of $100,000 per year to DPAC is a waste of money. Which expenditure has the most value for the typical Winter Park resident?

Has this always been the political climate in this city? I am taken aback by it.

Thanks for your thoughts if you care to share them with me.

Beth Hall

In Response to the City Manager

Download Letter as PDF

Open Letter to Mayor Steve Leary

The Meaning of NO

Editor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.  

Open Letter to Mayor Steve Leary

By Sally Flynn, Guest Columnist

Sally Flynn and her family have been residents of Winter Park since 1961.

On Friday, February 22, Mayor Steve Leary delivered his “State of the City” address to a capacity audience at the Alfond Inn. The event was a luncheon in the Alfond dining room, and those present paid either $40 per plate, for Chamber members, or $80 per plate for non-members.

Toward the end of his address, our Mayor made the following statement.
“We must pay special attention to how we treat one another,” he said. “We cannot be a special place if we treat each other in a common way. . . . The NO people who stand against everything but have no plausible alternative for all that they oppose . . . you cannot build a community on NO. It holds no value, it holds no hope and it holds no promise.”

When I last checked, Winter Park was a democracy in which everyone has the right to oppose something with which they do not agree. Mr Leary, is your problem with those who say NO simply that they do not support your agenda?

I believe NO means: NO more density, NO more diversion of our tax dollars to developers, NO more variances from our Comprehensive Plan and NO more selling public property without consent of the tax payers.

Mr Leary, you too are one of the NO people. You have said, quite clearly, NO to a tree ordinance that has teeth. You have responded NO to citizens who gather petitions. You said NO to a Historic Preservation Ordinance, one that represented a year’s work and was approved by the Historic Preservation Board and passed by the Commission. That ordinance was barely three months old when Peter Weldon was elected. You and Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel joined ranks with Weldon to weaken the ordinance, discouraging any serious historic preservation effort citizens of this City might wish to undertake.

When the citizens you have characterized as the “NO People” said YES to expanding Martin Luther King Jr. Park, you said NO and sold adjoining property. You said NO again to parks expansion when you refused to include language in the Comprehensive Plan that would have provided for the acquisition of the Post Office property, if it became available, to augment Central Park.

So, Mr. Leary, there are two sides to NO.

The NO People say Yes to leaders who possess the ability to see all sides of a question. The NO People say yes to leadership that represents all citizens, not just those who agree them. The NO People say yes to compliance with the Comprehensive Plan and the stewardship and preservation of the character of our City.

It is deeply troubling that you have chosen to use the State of the City address to single out those who do not embrace your agenda. You label us the NO People while, in the same breath, urging us to “pay special attention to how we treat one another.”

How does such open disrespect for opposing views, expressed by the mayor in such a public way, foster genuine accord among our citizens?

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