Weaver Bests Weldon in Runoff

Wins Winter Park City Commission Seat 4

Weaver Bests Weldon in Runoff

Anne Mooney & Janet Hommel

In Winter Park’s first run-off election, voters sent incumbent Pete Weldon packing and handed Todd Weaver a comfortable 285-vote victory — a margin of 4.6 percent.

High Turn-out Despite Rain

Typically, run-off elections draw fewer voters, but voter enthusiasm generated by this runoff was high. Vote-by-Mail was greater than normal. As the last ballot was counted, more than 700 additional voters had cast ballots in the runoff. That’s an increase of 13 percent over the vote in the March 12 general election.

Did Republican Electioneering Steer Voters to the Polls?

The Winter Park City Charter mandates that Commission races be non-partisan, but since 2012, the Orange County Republican Executive Committee (OCREC) has ignored the Charter and played an active role in Winter Park elections. Here is one example of an OCREC mailer sent on the eve of the April 9 runoff.

Republican voters were subjected to a barrage of OCREC-sponsored mailers, emails and robo-calls. Weldon won big in the heavily Republican Precinct 1, where voter turnout was up 15 percent. OCREC electioneering seemed to have less impact elsewhere, however, and Weaver easily carried the other four precincts.

The Chandler Effect and Lee Road

Weaver also appears to have benefited from the endorsement of former candidate Barbara Chandler. Almost half of Ms. Chandler’s votes in the March 12 general election came from Precinct 4, which includes both the traditional West Side neighborhood and the Lee Road corridor. Weaver targeted the Lee Road neighborhoods with a message about controlling traffic and development and had his best results in Precinct 4.

Did the Run-Off Deliver a Message about the Canopy Project?

High voter turn-out and a clear win for Weaver may make the City sit up and take notice. The main plank in Weaver’s platform was that the Canopy Project has gone astray. He pointed out that the project – particularly the events center — is over budget and not delivering what the voters were promised – a bigger library. Weaver suggested we hit the pause button and re-evaluate the project in light of current cost projections and City leaders’ plans to use the Canopy events center to attract tourist dollars.

Chandler Endorses Weaver

Chandler Endorses Weaver

 

Former candidate Barbara Chandler today announced her endorsement of Todd Weaver for City Commission Seat #4 in the April 9 run-off election.

“I speak for myself as a former candidate, and I am honored to be joined in my endorsement by The Friends of West Winter Park,” said Chandler. “We were able to go back and look at the questions the community had posed, and we felt that Todd was more in line with the values we espouse. One of the things that drew us to him during the Forum and during a brief meeting this morning was his willingness to help establish some type of Neighborhood Council and also a Coop for minority-owned businesses.”

Weaver said he was pleased and honored to have the support of Chandler and the Friends of West Winter Park. “My goal is to help them bring together the West Side community and remove the roadblocks to a more robust participation in Winter Park City government.”

As of this writing, Commissioner Peter Weldon could not be reached for comment.

Weaver & Weldon Face Off at West Side Forum

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

Weaver & Weldon Face Off at West Side Forum

Guest Columnist Janet Hommel


Former Winter Park city commission candidate Barbara Chandler and The Friends of West Winter Park hosted a lively sharing of ideas on Tuesday, March 26 at the Winter Park Community Center. Commission candidates Todd Weaver and Peter Weldon were invited to engage directly with West Side families, elders, community leaders and small business owners in a moderated question-and-answer forum.

Chandler emphasized that this was not a debate, but an opportunity “for candidates to sit with our community . . . to learn what our issues and values are. We also want to make sure our community gives each candidate a chance to be heard.”

“Since election day March 12,” Chandler went on, “West Side Winter Parkers have been asked who we’ll be supporting in the run-off election April 9. Just like all Winter Parkers,” said Chandler, “we’ll be voting for the candidate who supports our values and community.”

Despite Chandler’s insistence that the forum was not a debate, the candidates wasted no time throwing jabs and punches. Most of the questions for the candidates dealt either with minority representation or issues specific to the West Side, such as the CRA.

Chandler’s frequent attempts to maintain decorum and her reminders to both candidates and audience to show proper respect fell victim to the emotion brought out by this hotly contested race.

Be sure to vote April 9!

April 9 Runoff for Commission Seat #4

April 9 Runoff for Commission Seat #4

Election night ended with a resounding ‘thunk.’ The two top vote-getters, Todd Weaver and Peter Weldon, will get do-overs in an April 9 runoff, since no candidate garnered more than 50 percent of the vote.

The unofficial breakdown from Orange County shows Weaver leading the pack with 2,589 votes, or 47.9 percent, trailed by Weldon at 2,383, or 44.1 percent, and Barbara Chandler with 431 votes, or 7.98 percent. Because there were three candidates, for one to declare a decisive victory would have required he or she received more than 50 percent of the vote.

What Does That Mean for US, The Voters?

We get do-overs, too. According to the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office, anyone who has a request on file for a Vote by Mail ballot will automatically receive another Vote by Mail ballot – one with two choices this time.

Go to https://www.ocfelections.com/ and right in the center of the page you will find information about the Winter Park runoff election April 9. You can use this site to confirm your registration and ensure you will receive a Vote by Mail ballot if you want one.

Vote by Mail ballots will be mailed out March 18. The elections office was not sure whether all five Winter Park polling places would be open April 9. The Voice will update this information as we receive it.

The mood at last night’s post-election festivities was upbeat as campaigners vowed to keep waving their flags and placing yard signs.

Asked what her plans were going forward, Barbara Chandler said she had no specific plans, but expressed her gratitude to her community. “I was very proud that the community stepped up and proved themselves to be an asset to our city. We want to be taken seriously in the future and we plan to participate at this level and beyond,” said Chandler.

2019 Election Update

Vote by Mail Ballot Deadline; Canvassing Board Update; Rollins Debate Video

2019 Election Update

Request Your Vote by Mail Ballots by March 6

If you were expecting a Vote by Mail ballot and did not received it, the Orange County Supervisor of Elections (OCSOE) advises you to contact their office to request one.

Call 407-836-8683 or 407-836-2070. Or go online to https://ocfelections.com.

You have until March 6 to request a Vote by Mail ballot. If you prefer to vote at the polls March 12, click the above link to make sure your registration is in order and find your polling place.

Cooper, Sprinkel & Seidel Will Serve on March 12 Canvassing Board

In the City Attorney’s report at the Feb. 25 Commission meeting, City Attorney Kurt Ardaman revisited the issue of the canvassing board. “The issue has come up,” said Ardaman, “can a mayor or commissioner participate in a [campaign for] a city election, even though they are not the ones running, and still be on the canvassing board?”

Ardaman said, “I have spoken with [Orange County Supervisor of Elections] Bill Cowles – and, of course he deals with a County canvassing board, and we have a City canvassing board. They are two completely different animals.”

Ardaman explained that the Florida state statutes deal with County canvassing boards, but they do not deal with City canvassing boards. City canvassing boards are controlled by the City Charter. “Notwithstanding the participation of any mayor or commissioner in this election or campaign, they have the ability to participate. It might not be the right thing, or the wrong perspective,” said Ardaman, “but the law does not allow us to appoint anybody other than those who are provided by our Charter.”

After discussion, it was agreed that Commissioner Carolyn Cooper, Commissioner Greg Seidel and Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel will serve on the March 12 canvassing board. To view the conversation, click here.

Ballots Are Secret

Earlier conversations with City Clerk Cindy Bonham shed light on the vote certification process, which is the duty of the canvassing board.

The final vote tabulation is done at OCSOE. In addition to tabulating votes cast at the polls on election day, the Vote by Mail ballots also are tabulated by OCSOE. OCSOE compares the envelope signatures with those in their data base. Envelopes with signatures that do not match signatures in the data base are given to the City canvassing board to accept or reject.

Canvassing Process Open to the Public

On election night, after the polls close, results from each precinct are electronically transmitted to OCSOE office for tabulation. The three members of the City canvassing board go to OCSOE offices, where they will canvass votes that are in question. The process is open to the public. Any citizen is welcome to observe, but no one may interfere with the canvassing board.

When a questionable envelope is accepted by the canvassing board, it is given to OCSOE to include in the tabulation. Rejected envelopes are set aside unopened.

According to City Clerk Cindy Bonham, envelopes that are rejected are never opened by the canvassing board. So, while board members may be able to identify the voter, no one at the City ever knows how a voter votes.

According to Cindy Bonham, “OCSOE makes every effort to ensure every vote is counted correctly.”

In a small town such as Winter Park, even one vote can make the difference. Just ask Joe Terranova – Winter Park Mayor 1997 – 2000.

Rollins Debate

The third and final candidate debate between Commissioner Peter Weldon and his challenger Todd Weaver was sponsored by Rollins’ Democracy Project. Only Weaver and Weldon were present for the debate. The third candidate, Barbara Chandler, was absent.

Chandler Joins Weaver, Weldon at Library Debate

Audience Questions Run the Gamut

Chandler Joins Weaver, Weldon at Library Debate

The capacity audience at the Winter Park Public Library got a chance to meet all three candidates for Commission Seat #4, as Barbara Chandler joined Todd Weaver and Peter Weldon for the first time in a debate open to the public.

The first few Moderator questions, posed by Carol Fogelsong of the Orange County League of Women Voters, covered traffic, congestion, parking, the library, the budget and development on major corridors such as Orange Avenue.

Audience Questions

The fun began with audience questions, which ranged from the poor condition of Lake Baldwin Park, a.k.a. the dog park, to allowing backyard chickens to a possible ban on plastic bags. There were lively exchanges on alternate modes of transportation and how to foster ethnic diversity in city government.

Watch the embedded videos to see each candidate’s views on these and other subjects.

Thanks to Three Candidates

The effort involved in campaigning for office and the devotion of time required to serve in office represent a significant level of commitment to our community. Commissioner Weldon, Mr. Weaver and Ms. Chandler deserve our appreciation for their willingness to serve.

Second of Three Public Debates

The Library debate was the second of three debates that are open to the public. The debate originally scheduled at the University Club February 27 was cancelled when Peter Weldon and Barbara Chandler declined the invitation to participate.

Third & Final Debate at Rollins Feb. 26

The remaining public debate will be at Rollins College Bush Auditorium, February 26, from 5:00 to 6:00 pm, with a reception until 6:30.

See Video of All Public Debates Here on WP Voice

The Winter Park Voice will post video of all public debates. Those who are unable to attend a debate can view the video to see which of the three candidates you will choose to represent you in Commission Seat #4.

Vote March 12

The three candidates on the March 12 ballot are Barbara Chandler, Todd Weaver and Peter Weldon.

To request your Vote by Mail ballot. Contact the Orange County Supervisor of Elections either online at https://ocfelections.com or call (407) 836-2070.

Sprinkel Steps Down from Canvassing Board

Cooper to Serve Instead

Sprinkel Steps Down from Canvassing Board

Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel announced her decision to step down from this year’s Canvassing Board for the March 12 election. Commissioner Sprinkel declined to comment on her decision.

According to Communications Director Clarissa Howard, Commissioner Carolyn Cooper will take Sprinkel’s place on the Canvassing Board. Commissioner Cooper was unavailable for comment as of this writing.

Who Certifies the Votes After City Election?

City Charter Differs from Florida Election Law

Who Certifies the Votes After City Election?

Among the three people who will certify the votes in the March 12 election is Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel, a very public supporter of the candidacy of Commissioner Peter Weldon. In her introductory speech at Weldon’s campaign kickoff party, Sprinkel stated, “It is not important that we re-elect Pete Weldon, it’s imperative that we re-elect Pete Weldon.”

The City Commission named Sprinkel, along with Commissioner Greg Seidel and City Clerk Cindy Bonham to the three-member Canvassing Board at its Feb. 11 meeting. The board will oversee the certification of the March 12 election and, if necessary, an April 9 runoff.

Canvassing Board Decisions Can Be Critical in Close Race

In a very close election, the Canvassing Board can determine the outcome. Think back to the 2000 presidential race and the ‘hanging chads,’ or the more recent Florida Senate race in which there were numerous recounts – all the result of Canvassing Board decisions.

Who Can Serve?

Commissioner Peter Weldon is ineligible to serve on the Cavassing Board, as he is a candidate with opposition. Mayor Steve Leary stated he was “out,” indicating he would not serve, but offering no explanation. According to the City Attorney and the City Manager, Commissioner Carolyn Cooper could have been appointed to the March 12 Canvassing Board, even though she is unavailable April 9, should there be a runoff, but Commissioners chose Sprinkel instead.

Although Florida Statutes disqualify from canvassing boards anyone who has campaigned for one of the candidates, those rules don’t apply to the city, said City Attorney Kurt Ardaman and City Clerk Cindy Bonham, who serves as Winter Park’s Supervisor of Elections. The city has its own rules, which are spelled out in its charter, they said.

Sprinkel Responds

Asked about her thoughts on participating in the Canvassing Board, Commissioner Sprinkel replied, “I was trained with the League of Women Voters to work on elections. . . . The residents and voters of Winter Park have no reason to question my honesty. I am a great proponent of the democratic process, and do not question the democratic process.”

How Does State Define ‘Active Participant’ in a Campaign?

Florida statutes governing the selection of State and County Canvassing Boards disqualify any Canvassing Board member “. . .who is also an active participant in the campaign or candidacy of any candidate with opposition in the election being canvassed.”

“Active participation” is described as, “Being a member of an election or re-election committee for a candidate, public endorsement with or without financial support of a candidate; holding campaign signs, wearing a campaign tee-shirt, or other public display of support for a candidate; signing an endorsement card for a candidate; attending a candidate’s campaign fundraiser. . . .”

Municipalities Exempt from State & County Laws

The Florida Statute does not require municipalities to follow suit. The Winter Park City Charter is silent on the issue of a Canvassing Board member’s “active participation” and does not disqualify members for actively supporting a candidate.

Winter Park City Charter

According to the Winter Park City Charter, “No commissioner or mayor shall participate in the canvassing of the returns of an election for which said commissioner or mayor is a candidate or subject to recall. For any disqualified city commissioner or mayor, the city clerk shall act as the alternate canvassing board member.”

WP Supervises Its Own Elections – Orange County is a Contractor

Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles said that while his office acts as a contractor to the City of Winter Park for the March 12 election, it does not supervise the election. As a contractor to Winter Park, Orange County rents the voting machines to the City, works with the City to design the ballot, and mails out, collects and tabulates Vote by Mail ballots.

The Winter Park City Clerk acts as the Supervisor of Elections for the City, and she works with the City Attorney to determine the duties and composition of the City’s Canvassing Board.

Vote March 12

Three candidates are on the ballot in the March 12 election: Weldon, who is running for his second term, Todd Weaver, who served on County and City Lakes and Waterways Boards, and Barbara Chandler, Manager of the Hannibal Square Heritage Center.

Weldon, Weaver Face Off at WP Chamber

Chandler Did Not Participate

Weldon, Weaver Face Off at WP Chamber

 

Commissioner Peter Weldon faced off against Todd Weaver, one of his challengers for Commission Seat #4, before an overflow audience at the Winter Park Chamber this morning. The third candidate for Seat #4, Barbara Chandler, did not participate in the Chamber debate.

Transportation a Key Issue

A good part of the discussion revolved around transportation, traffic and infrastructure. While automobile traffic was certainly an issue, alternative modes of transportation and the need for connectivity also figured prominently. The candidates discussed at length the opportunities for capital improvement and additions to City infrastructure.

Canopy Project & Mixed Use Development Discussed

The candidates offered their views on the state of the Canopy project and on the pros and cons of mixed use development on gateway corridors. One question about the possibility of a medical marijuana dispensary in Winter Park elicited confessions from both candidates that, in the past, they had indeed inhaled.

Thanks to Both Candidates

The tenor of the debate was cordial and lively. Both candidates seemed well-informed and thoroughly engaged in the community. Campaigning for office, and the devotion of time required to serve in office, represent a significant level of commitment. Both of these gentlemen deserve our appreciation for their willingness to serve this community.

First of Four Public Debates

This morning’s debate was the first of four debates that are open to the public. The remaining three are as follows.

Winter Park Public Library — February 20 at Noon
Rollins College — February 26, time TBA
University Club – February 27 at 6:30 pm
The Mayflower and Westminster Towers will host private debates, which only residents may attend.

Video of All Public Debates Here on the WP Voice

The Winter Park Voice will post video of all four public debates. Those who cannot attend a debate in person can view the video to see which of these candidates you will choose to represent you in Commission Seat #4.

Vote March 12.

VOTING HAS STARTED!

Get Your Vote by Mail Ballot – There’s Still Time

VOTING HAS STARTED!

Voting in the March 12, 2019 election has begun. Vote by Mail ballots are being sent out this week. There will be no early voting at the library for this election.

It’s easy to get your Vote by Mail ballot. Contact the Orange County Supervisor of Elections either online at https://ocfelections.com or call (407) 836-2070.

There is only ONE race on the ballot – Winter Park Commission Seat #4.

The ballot looks like this.

When we all vote, everybody wins!