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?

Jim Fitch Will Run for Mayor

Jim Fitch Will Run for Mayor

Jim Fitch announced this morning that he intends to challenge Steve Leary in the race for Mayor of Winter Park. Fitch submitted the necessary documents to the City Clerk at 10:00 this morning, and the paperwork was forwarded to the Orange County Supervisor of Elections for certification.

In a statement, Fitch said, “Today, I filed to run for Mayor of Winter Park. This has not been an easy decision for my wife and me. My campaign will be limited. My website, www.jimfitchformayor.com gives details.

“One purpose of my candidacy,” said Fitch, “is to gauge the level of voter dissatisfaction with the current Commission. I am offering the voters of Winter Park a choice.  They will decide.”

At 5:00 pm, Fitch was still waiting to hear from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections, but since the number of petitions he submitted exceeds the requirements, it is very likely he will qualify to run.

Fitch Campaign Kickoff Cancelled

Will He Still Run?

Fitch Campaign Kickoff Cancelled

The Jim Fitch for Mayor campaign announced last weekend that the Fitch for Mayor campaign kickoff party, which was to be held at the Winter Park Country Club this evening, has been cancelled.

Fitch told the Voice, “There were disagreements within the campaign organization that were irreconcilable.”

Timing is a consideration, and Fitch is in the process of deciding how to proceed. He is committed to Winter Park and looks forward to serving in some capacity in the future.

Jim Fitch to Run for Mayor

Will Leary Run for Re-Election?

Jim Fitch to Run for Mayor

No matter that the earliest date you can officially declare a run for office is more than a month off, Jim Fitch has announced he’s throwing his hat into the ring. Mr. Fitch will challenge incumbent Steve Leary in the 2018 mayoral election.

The Incumbent

Communications Director Clarissa Howard could neither confirm nor deny that Mayor Steve Leary will seek a second mayoral term, but sources confirm that Leary has picked up the documents he needs from the City to begin forming a campaign organization for a run in 2018.

First elected to the City Commission in 2011, Leary resigned his Commission seat in late 2014 to complete his successful 2015 run for mayor. Leary has been an active and visible mayor, and he has represented Winter Park in various regional organizations such as MetroPlan Orlando and the Florida League of Mayors. Leary has been a leader in the effort to build a library-event center in Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.

The Challenger

Jim Fitch, a Louisiana native, did his undergraduate work in mechanical engineering at LSU and later received an MBA in finance and real estate from Stanford University.

After a career in industry and real estate, Fitch moved to Haines City, FL in 2011, where he began a second career in public service. He served as a member of the Haines City Planning & Zoning Board, held a seat on the Board of Adjustments and chaired the Finance Advisory Board. Fitch and his wife Doriana moved to Winter Park in 2016.

Fitch says that he and his wife were drawn by the ‘city of homes’ character of Winter Park. His plans for the city, if he is elected, include formation of a Finance Advisory Board and an Architectural Review Board. He says he plans to adhere closely to the Comprehensive Plan adopted by the City in 2016.

“The people of this city devoted an enormous amount of time and effort to developing a Comprehensive Plan for how the city will look and how the city will grow,” said Fitch, “and I want to see Winter Park’s commitment to those ideals upheld.”

The Election – March 13, 2018

In Winter Park, the only 2018 election will be for mayor. The four Commissioners have either one or two years remaining in their terms. The candidate qualifying period begins at Noon on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 and ends Noon Tuesday, January 23, 2018. Election day is March 13, 2018. If a run-off election is necessary, it will be held April 10, 2018.

Three Ways to Vote

You can vote by mail, vote early or go to the polls on election day. The Orange County Supervisor of Elections website is http://ocfelections.com/votersguide.aspx#ways

To Request a Vote-by-Mail Ballot

1. Call 407-836-2070.
2. Request online.
3. Request fax or mail. Send your name, residential address, mailing address, date of birth, signature, and election(s) for which you are requesting a ballot to (407) 254-6598 or P.O. Box 562001, Orlando, FL 32856-2001.

For more municipal election information, contact the City Clerk’s office at 407-599-3277 or email cityclerk@cityofwinterpark.org.

Seidel, Leary Search for Common Ground

Did They Find Any?

Seidel, Leary Search for Common Ground

Mayor Steve Leary and Commissioner Greg Seidel met early the morning of November 29 to discuss where they stand on electrical undergrounding, a connectivity plan for city greenspace, traffic management and the possibility of forming an architectural review board.

The meeting was called by Commissioner Seidel, who sought commonality and support from Mayor Leary for more systematic planning on these issues. Seidel expressed his feeling that the City needs more detailed designs against which to measure its progress.

The discussion, which lasted approximately an hour and a half, was often detailed and technical. We have included video of the meeting in its entirety to enable readers to judge for themselves where and when Leary and Seidel were able to find common ground.

To Winter Park Citizens

To Winter Park Citizens


Our citizens have always held differing views on how Winter Park should grow and what we want our city to be. We enjoy the good fortune of being entitled to our own views and being able to express them freely. Because of this we will always have candidates that run on different platforms, supported by those who agree with them.

Charter Calls for Non-partisan Elections

It is not okay, however, that some candidates and their backers fail to honor our City Charter. Winter Park elections, by our Charter laws, are supposed to be non-partisan.

Partisanship Must Stop

For the past three elections, there have been those who have not honored these election laws. Candidates make excuses by saying they did not ask for the help, the money and the in-kind contributions, but by accepting the money from political parties and their affiliated PACs, they are condoning it.

The Winter Park voters have just shown their fellow citizens that they will not be bought by any political party, nor will the pressure from Realtor Groups take control of their City from them.

And though it is not illegal for a sitting Commissioner to support a candidate, it borders on unethical to do so and is certainly in poor taste. It would be nice to think we had Commissioners who knew better.

Let the candidates run and let the citizens vote. And let us all uphold our City Charter.

Seidel Keeps Seat #1

Charter Amendment Passes

Seidel Keeps Seat #1

Commissioner Greg Seidel retained his seat on the City Commission by a comfortable 257 vote margin. Orange County Supervisor of Elections results show Seidel garnered 2,514 votes to challenger Wes Naylor’s 2,257.

The amendment to the City Charter, which provides for a runoff election in case of a tie, passed with 70 percent of the vote.

Appreciation to Wes Naylor for his willingness to serve the City, and congratulations to Commissioner Greg Seidel.

Winter Park-Maitland Observer Pulls 'Misleading Mailer' Article

Winter Park-Maitland Observer Pulls ‘Misleading Mailer’ Article


The Winter Park-Maitland Observer has removed from their website an article, published the week of March 6, that was referenced in a Letter to the Editor of the Winter Park Voice yesterday.

In an email to Commission candidate Wes Naylor, the Observer’s new owner, editor and CEO, Matt Walsh, wrote: “After extended discussions with Executive Editor Mike Eng, and given the late hour, I requested the story regarding your mailer be removed from the Winter Park/Maitland Observer website.”