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