Greg Seidel to Run for Commission

Commission Race Now Goes to Feb. 10 Primary

Greg Seidel to Run for Commission

Greg SeidelGregory S. Seidel, Vice President of the Balmoral Group, a Winter Park-based civil engineering firm, has announced his intention to seek election to Winter Park Commission Seat #1, which is being vacated by mayoral candidate Steven Leary. 

February 10 Primary

By throwing his hat into the ring, Seidel throws the commission race into a February 10, 2015 primary. The primary election will determine one of two things. If one of the three candidates for the commission seat – Gary Brewer, Willow Shambeck or Greg Seidel – wins more than 51 percent of the vote, that candidate becomes the new commissioner. If no candidate wins more than 51 percent of the primary vote, the two candidates with the most votes will vie for the commission seat in the March 10 election.

Winter Park City Clerk Cindy Bonham and Greg Seidel both verified to the Voice Seidel’s intention to run.

No Word on Voter Registration or Absentee Ballot Deadlines

The Orange County Board of Elections was closed Friday and so could not be reached for comment on the effect the February 10 primary will have on voter registration deadlines or the mailing of absentee ballots. The Voice will make this information available when business resumes on Monday, January 5.

Seidel: Strong Engineering Background

Seidel has more than 23 years of experience in engineering with a focus on stormwater management. His experience also includes stormwater management design for major and minor roadways, reservoir design, flood mapping, roadway project management, water distribution design and wastewater collection design.

Seidel earned his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and his Master of Science in Civil Engineering, Hydraulics and Hydrology from Lehigh University. He serves as chair of the Winter Park Utility Advisory Board.

Campaign Treasurer’s Reports can be found on the City of Winter Park website at

WP Election Slate Keeps Growing

Commercial Realtor to Oppose Brewer for Commission Seat #1

WP Election Slate Keeps Growing

Winter Park’s election may be four months away, but community interest in the two open seats is heating up.  Four eager candidates already have filed to run – more than a month before the official qualifying period even begins.


Shambeck to Oppose Brewer

In the latest filing, Willow Shambeck, president of Cursor Realty Commercial, a commercial real estate brokerage in Winter Park, on Nov. 10 declared her intention to run for the commission seat that will be vacated when Commissioner Steve Leary resigns to run for mayor. 

Commission Seat #1 is also being sought by former city commissioner and mayor Gary Brewer, an independent consultant and former president of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce.

Mackinnon vs. Leary for Mayor

Running against each other for mayor are Commissioner Steve Leary and long-time city resident Cynthia Mackinnon. Leary, who will resign his commission seat to run, is vice-president of Leary Management Group, which handles property management, sales and maintenance. Mackinnon is a retired 9th Judicial Circuit Court judge.

High Dollar Campaigns

This election promises to be a high dollar one. With their early filings, all four candidates have an early start on fundraising. Because she filed prior to October 31, Mackinnon alone had to declare her contributions in the first reporting period. The $77,100 she declared in her initial report exceeds the $65,200 that outgoing mayor Ken Bradley raised over his entire last campaign.

Candidates can submit their remaining qualifying paperwork beginning December 29 at noon. The final deadline to enter the race is noon of January 6, 2015.


Shambeck Announcement

Brewer Announcement

Brewer Treasury Filing

Leary – October Treasury Report

Mackinnon – October Treasury Report

WP Political Season Heats Up

Former Mayor to Run for Leary’s Commission Seat

WP Political Season Heats Up


Gary Brewer, who served as Winter Park commissioner and mayor during the 1980s and 90s, told the Voice today he intends to run again for the WP Commission.

Brewer said he plans to file next week for the seat being vacated by Steve Leary, who this week announced his run for WP Mayor.

Also today, former Florida Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Mackinnon followed up her recent campaign treasury filing with a candidacy announcement calling for “A new type of leader.”

Mackinnon pledged to “build consensus” among Winter Parkers, vowing to change the climate of governance that has sent the city “careening from one crisis of its own creation to another by promoting policies and projects that lack community support.”

Click the button below to see the full text of Mackinnon’s announcement.

Commissioner Leary declined a Voice request for a candidacy statement.

Mackinnon Announcement

Mackinnon Treasury Filing

Leary Treasury Filing

Leary to Run for WP Mayor

Leary Must Resign His Seat — Voters Will Elect New Commissioner

Leary to Run for WP Mayor


One week after Mayor Ken Bradley announced he would not seek a third term, city Commissioner Steven Leary filed his intention Monday to be Winter Park’s next mayor.

Leary, the mayor’s strongest ally on the board, will have at least one other challenger. Cynthia Mackinnon, formerly a judge in the Ninth Judicial Circuit, also has appointed a campaign treasurer and opened a bank account in the mayoral race.

Leary’s decision means city voters now will have two vacancies to fill in the March city election. In order to run for mayor, he must step down from his current seat. He must submit his resignation plans ten days before the qualifying period starts December 29, said City Clerk Cindy Bonham. The date he decides to make his resignation effective, however, has to occur before the mayoral term begins. 

Depending on what date Leary picks to resign, a temporary appointee might be needed to fill his seat until the March election. The mayor and the three other commissioners would make that appointment if necessary. 

Mr. Leary said Monday he has not yet decided how soon he will resign.

Commissioner Sprinkel Re-Elected

Tonight’s Vote Count: Sprinkel 2,549, Womble 1,571

Commissioner Sprinkel Re-Elected

3/11/14 — Winter Park City Clerk Cindy Bonham reminds citizens that these are “unofficial” results — adding that “Any provisional ballots that cannot be handled the night of the election will be made part of the official results at the time of certifying on Thursday, March 13.”

 March 6 Winter Park Library Debate (click image for video)
Exclusive One-On-One Candidate Interviews (click image for video)


Website (click image)

Why Sarah Sprinkel? (from campaign website)

“I have decided to run for reelection to the Winter Park City Commission-Seat 2 to continue my leadership in the Winter Park Commission. I have been a strong leader in the Winter Park community as commissioner for three years, and the last three years have been very rewarding for me and for Winter Park. As a city, we are financially sound, and I would like to continue to improve our services while not raising your taxes. I ran three years ago to create a more cohesive atmosphere with people and programs, and successfully achieved this vision. With your help, we can achieve this vision for another three years.”

Website (Click image)

Why Sandy Womble? (from campaign website)

“Sandy Womble is committed to putting community first. She is an independent thinker whose priorities are to make sound decisions for Winter Park. She believes in applying the rules fairly and being a disciplined steward of your tax dollars . . . Sandy is committed to maintaining Winter Park’s unique charm. She understands our community character is the end result of thoughtful regard of our homes and tree canopy. She brings fresh ideas and balance to the dais. As an independent thinker, her priority will be to make decisions representative of the community.”

Campaign Video

Campaign Mailers & Palm Cards
Campaign Mailers & Palm Cards

Sprinkel Platform
(provided to Voice by candidate/campaign)

Statement from Sarah Sprinkel
“I’ve learned over last 3 years serving as a city commissioner . . . that it’s not about me- it’s about our community and a collective us. While I may have strong ideas about a certain topic, the overall health of our city is always first.

My personal goal is to continue working with the city and the community to make information and goals more accessible so that the picture of our entire city is easy to understand, see, and evaluate. I want all we do to fit into a schema so that our success can be measured and noted.”

Statement from Campaign
Sarah stands on her record as Commissioner where she has studied each issue carefully, listened to citizen input, and made thoughtful decisions based on what she determined was in the best interest of the City. She supports: Holding the line on taxes; Dynamic business community; Sound fiscal management; Protecting the City-wide tree canopy; Preservation of the quality of life in Winter Park; and Strong citizen boards who study issues and make recommendations to Commission.

Womble Platform
(excerpted from campaign website)

Urban Design
Community Character
–I support good urban design that promotes both economic growth and management of our historic resources. **
–I support the view that Preservation & Growth are friends, NOT rivals. **
–I support conducting a public hearing of the Professional Historic Preservation Consultant’s findings and upgrading our historic preservation ordinances.
–I support our Comprehensive Development Plan that guides development within Winter Park and evens the playing field between developers.

**Bland Report Submitted to the City of Winter Park, November, 2013.

Park Avenue & City Wide Merchants
–I support the development of corridors leading into Winter Park in alliance with our independent businesses. (Fairbanks/Aloma, New England, Lee Road, Hwy 17-92, Denning and Morse Avenues).
–I support that independent storefronts and eateries are Winter Park’s unique trademark, especially along Park Avenue.

Family Safety
Bike & Pedestrian Friendly City
–I support seeking out private, state and federal funding to grow our pedestrian walkways and bike lanes.
–I support partnering with citizen driven initiatives like the Cady Way bike lane improvement.
–I support the Sustainability Action Plan devised by City staff. It is our road map for future sustainable initiatives.

Central Florida Commuter Rail
–I support our regional partnership for the CFCR initiative.
–I support implementing the best equipment for public safety and quiet zones.

Greener Winter Park
–I support our diverse tree canopy and the promotion and planting of city orchards.
–I applaud the rebirth of Mead Gardens and I support building on their energy. Let’s implement community gardens throughout the city on unused city property. I’d like to explore using the Hannibal Land trust to purchase land for gardens. –I support the green roofs initiative.

Fleet Peeples Park
As many know, I was a defender of the dog park. A small group of us successfully fought to keep the park’s dog friendly status. This park is one of the finest in the country; a true community spirit exists here.

Comprehensive Plan
I respect our Comprehensive Plan and support sensible development inside our boundaries. We have plenty of unfinished projects and more to come. Being mindful of our comprehensive plan when making policy decisions on growth is paramount.

Campaign Finance Reform
I support opening the playing field for future candidates. Let’s encourage residents to run for office.

The costs to run a campaign are ridiculously out of control in Winter Park. Why should a candidate have to spend $50,000 for a campaign? I am interested in studying the feasibility of restricting business donations to broaden the public arena of decision-making. Corporations and banks aren’t people.

–I support Commissioner Bridges’ policy to list on the city website her private meetings. I think it’s a sound transparency policy and I intend to copy her.
–I support providing an easily accessible means for citizens to view proposed and passed city ordinances as well as commissioner votes on such ordinances.

Transportation & Downtown Parking
–I support another public/private partnership like the Park Place garage to offset parking.
–I support upholding the concurrency requirements for parking in our Comprehensive Plan.

Citizen Advisory Boards
Good Government
–I support Winter Park instating a Certified Local Government (CLG) status to enable us to compete successfully for limited funds available only to CLG cities. To achieve this status we must reinstate professional qualifications for certain boards.
–I support an application process that assures board membership of qualified electors and full-time residents of the city (unless there is a statute that requires otherwise) at the time of appointment and during their entire incumbency. –I support that all members of Boards making quasi–judicial decisions that bind the city sign a conflict of interest form.


From Budgets to Baseball: Candidates' Debate Covers It All in 60 minutes

From Budgets to Baseball: Candidates’ Debate Covers It All in 60 minutes


Click Image Below for Debate Video.
by Anne Mooney

Despite the dreary weather and with less than a week to go before next Tuesday’s decision on who will occupy Commission Seat #2, concerned Winter Park citizens filled the Public Library community room on Thursday to hear candidates Sarah Sprinkel and Sandy Womble hammer the planks into their respective platforms. After the candidates’ opening remarks, moderator Laura Turner presented questions from the audience and each candidate had 90 seconds in which to respond.

Although audience participation was robust and there was no shortage of 3 x 5 index cards being handed to Turner and her helpers, the questions seemed to center on the same six issues — historic preservation, tree maintenance, the city budget, civility at city hall, whether baseball is appropriate for Winter Park, and the quality of life as it is impacted by development, density and the resulting traffic.

Predictably, both candidates vowed they would not raise taxes and would be scrupulous about fiscal responsibility; there was no discussion of whether there are any Winter Park citizens who might be willing to pay a little more if it would make their lives more quiet and less congested.

There did seem to be some divergence on the subject of historic preservation. Asked about the recent consultant’s report about the Historic Preservation ordinance that is currently on the books, Sprinkel stated that she did not want to “take away [ people’s ] right to vote,” implying that a stronger historic preservation ordinance might restrict the rights of property owners. Womble, on the other hand, stated that she would like to see the ordinance strengthened and that she thought members of the Historic Preservation Advisory Board should all be Winter Park citizens.

Based on the performance at the library, it seemed each candidate would independently vote her conscience, each would protect the tree canopy, protect park land, foster citizen participation in city government and promote civility at City Hall. The question seems to be:  three years’ experience on the dais at City Hall, or a fresh perspective? The answer will reveal itself on Tuesday, March 11.


Sprinkel Draws Opponent in Commission Race. Leary Wins New Term -- Unopposed

Special Alert for WPV Subscribers Only

Sprinkel Draws Opponent in Commission Race. Leary Wins New Term — Unopposed

Earlier today – as of the noon deadline for filing candidate qualifying papers – Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel learned for sure that she will face Sandy Womble in a race for City Commission seat 2.
The City’s municipal election for Commission seats 1 & 2 is scheduled for Tuesday, March 11. Winter Park Voice will cover the campaign in its entirety and follow this special alert with an expanded story that will include qualifying papers filed by Sprinkel, Womble and Leary.
Ms. Sprinkel formally announced her candidacy almost two months ago at her “Re-Election Announcement” event on November 19 at Palmano’s on Park Avenue. Tonight, at 5 p.m., her campaign held its “Re-Election Campaign Kick-Off” at the Kummer-Kilbourne House in Winter Park. 
Sandy Womble is a Winter Parker who has been active in causes as varied as Historic Preservation and development of the Fleet Peeples dog park.
Ms. Womble completed her qualifying paperwork today in the midst of gearing up her campaign to unseat Ms. Sprinkel. According to campaign associates, Ms. Womble has lived in Winter Park for over ten years.
Commissioner Steve Leary automatically qualifies for a second term by virtue of his unopposed status.
By today’s noon filing deadline, no prospective candidate had filed to challenge him for City Commission seat 1.


It's Over. Disqualified Candidate Withdraws

Ross Johnston Cancels Lawsuit Against City

It’s Over. Disqualified Candidate Withdraws

1/24/13 Story Update:
City Commissioner Steve Leary Criticizes Voice Coverage of His Involvement in Johnston Campaign. In an email received by the Voice late this afternoon, Commissioner Steve Leary took issue with our characterization of him as a “key supporter” of Ross Johnston’s candidacy.

Today’s email is Mr. Leary’s first contact with the Voice regarding the Johnston story — a response to the Voice’s “Request for Comment” sent to Mr. Leary prior to printing our 1/22 Story Update. Read the full text of Leary’s response in our Story Comments (CLICK HERE). After clicking, scroll down to find comment.

1/22/13 Story Update: Two weeks ago today, Ross Johnston arrived in the City Clerk’s office ten minutes before the filing deadline. He sat in the Clerk’s office filling out paperwork, but was unable to meet all filing requirements by the noon deadline.

When Johnston was subsequently disqualified to run for Carolyn Cooper’s Commission seat, he retained the Vose Law Firm to sue the city in a bid to qualify as a candidate.

Today, in a startling change of course — just one day before the Circuit Court would rule on the merits of Johnston’s lawsuit — the Vose law firm notified Judge Donald Grincewicz that Johnston was withdrawing his lawsuit against the city. Click button below to see Notice of Dismissal and other documents.

According to Johnston, in a statement released today, his decision to run for office “. . . had its start in an unexpected morning conversation on the playground at Saint Margaret Mary School.” Johnston’s statement did not reveal the other participants in his early morning conversation, but City Hall staffers confirm that the first call to City Hall on Johnston’s behalf that morning was made by Dan Bellows. Bellows is a developer whose Ravaudage development will soon be reviewed by the City Commission. Commissioner Steve Leary — another key supporter of Johnston — did not respond to the Voice’s request for comment today.

The Voice also requested comment from Allan Keen, a Johnston supporter who, like Leary, had signed Johnston’s candidacy petition. Mr. Keen declined comment. Dan Bellows did not respond to our request for comment.

Dismissal Documents

Why Did Johnston Withdraw?

In a statement to the Voice, Ross Johnston cites possible “damage” to the city as a prime reason he gave up his quest for Carolyn Cooper’s City Commission seat. “This morning after a great deal of thought and consideration, I have formally dropped my lawsuit against the City of Winter Park and suspended my campaign for City Commissioner. Though the process of the legal discovery actually increased my confidence in our case, it also became clear that winning the suit would result in collateral damage that would be painful to many and would not benefit the city in the long run.”

Cooper Responds

Commissioner Cooper issued a brief statement this morning. “I’m glad this has been resolved. I’m glad to get back to the business of the city.” Cooper also made herself available for an on-camera interview with the Voice. (See below.) Johnston has declined all WPV requests for an on-camera interview.

Cooper and McMacken to Be Sworn in March 25

Clarissa Howard, Director of City of Winter Park Communications Department, told the Voice that “The Official Oath of Office ceremony date for both Commissioner Cooper and McMacken has been set to Monday, March 25, 2013 at 3:30 p.m. . . There is no further legal or Commission action the city needs to take prior to the swearing in.” Ms. Howard added that no other comment would be forthcoming from city staff. City Attorneys Katie Reischmann and Larry Brown also declined comment.

Click for Video

Read & Input Comments

1/16/13 Story Update:

In Monday’s City Commission meeting, City Attorney Larry Brown answered questions from Mayor Bradley, Commissioner Cooper and city residents regarding Ross Johnston’s lawsuit against the City Clerk.

In response to Commissioner Cooper’s queries concerning her legal status as a candidate, Attorney Brown agreed with Mayor Bradley’s contention that the City Attorney cannot provide legal advice to Commissioner Cooper. He confirmed that Cooper must retain her own attorney and pay her own legal costs to determine the status of her campaign. Cooper responded that as a commissioner who is paid “$118.00 a month . . . It’s very difficult to hire a $500.00 an hour lawyer to tell me . . . whether I’m allowed to campaign.” Cooper asserted that, “My reading of the law leads me to believe that I am no longer an unopposed candidate – that through the law, I am actually an opposed candidate, which would mean I can continue to collect campaign funds and could continue to campaign . . .”

Though the City Attorney was unwilling to comment on the commissioner’s interpretation of election law, he did discuss questions concerning the city’s position in the matter – including whether the court is likely to reschedule the city’s election if Johnston’s lawsuit succeeds and he is placed on the ballot.

City Manager Randy Knight acknowledged that January 25 is the “. . . deadline for getting ballots printed in time for the March election” – implying that any ruling in Johnston’s favor after that time will force the city to delay the election. Attorney Brown replied that in matters like this, courts are “incredibly mindful of the need to act quickly . . . to make a decision so that the ballots can be printed.”

See the video clip below for more on Monday’s exchange between Attorney Brown and the City Commission.

Note: In Monday’s commission meeting, the City Attorney also revealed that a preliminary Circuit Court hearing of this case would be held on Wednesday, January 16 (today). Winter Park Voice attended the hearing and will publish video clips of today’s events in our next update.

1/11/13 Story: The attorney for would-be Commission candidate Ross Johnston filed a Writ of Mandamus with the 9th Circuit Court on Thursday. Attorney Becky Vose is asking the court to compel the City of Winter Park to reverse its disqualification of Ross Johnston and place him on the ballot.

Johnston and his attorney are alleging that the City Clerk , though “polite and helpful” nevertheless “insisted on compliance with matters not dictated by statute, charter or ordinance, thereby wasting considerable time, and directly causing the qualification process to be incomplete before 12:00 noon.”

In the court filing, Johnston’s attorney claims that the City Clerk mistakenly believed that payment of an “election assessment” fee was required by law to be paid only from a campaign treasurer’s account causing the Clerk to improperly refuse Johnston’s personal check. Johnston claims that he and his associates were thereby forced to spend time making different payment arrangements which delayed Johnston’s filing of required papers. The Writ states that Johnston entered Winter Park City Hall “. . . on or about 11:50 a.m.” to begin the qualifying process in the City Clerk’s office.

What Deadline?! Johnston Attorney Vose Says City Got it Wrong

Johnston also contends that both the City Attorney and City Clerk wrongly interpreted Florida law by requiring candidates to submit voter petitions, swear an oath and file a financial disclosure statement by the noon statutory deadline. Johnston’s attorney, Becky Vose, states that “only the first of the {4} numbered sections imposes a mandatory timeframe. The other three do not have such a time restriction.” Vose maintains that the single item out of the four that does have a mandatory timeframe is the Candidate Application, which, Vose claims, was submitted to the City Clerk before noon.

Potential Snag for Johnston: No Timestamp on Crucial Document

One potential snag for Johnston is the lack of a timestamp on his Candidate Application – a form his attorney acknowledges was due by the noon deadline. Johnston’s attorney claims that the un-timestamped Candidate Application was filled out before the required deadline. Vose maintains that Johnston filled out the unstamped Candidate Application before he filled out the Campaign Treasurer form – which was timestamped at 11:58 a.m. According to Vose, Johnston was following City Clerk instructions when he filled out the Treasurer form after the Candidate Application stating that “The City Clerk thereafter told Johnston that he was required to file a form designating a campaign treasurer before qualifying.”

“Seminal” Florida Supreme Court Ruling Important to Case?

The Writ filed by Becky Vose runs to almost thirty pages. Vose devotes many pages to case law and her rebuttal of the Winter Park City Attorney’s Opinion. In her Case Law analysis, Vose frequently quotes – and appears to lean heavily on – a Florida Supreme Court case (Siegendorf v. Stone) in which the court found that “{l}iteral and ‘total compliance’ with statutory language which reaches hypersensitive levels and which strains the quality of justice is not required to fairly and substantially meet the statutory requirements to qualify as a candidate for public office.” Vose criticizes the City Attorney for “not even mention{ing} the seminal case by the Florida Supreme Court on the subject of candidate qualification for office.”

Vose Attacks City Attorney Opinion. Questions Motives.

In the “City Attorney’s Opinion” section of the Writ, Vose excoriates the City Attorney’s Office, claiming it “grossly misstates” city code regarding which documents must be completed by the noon deadline. Vose further claims that the City Attorney has made a “legally absurd statement” supporting the proposition that “the City Clerk can unilaterally impose additional candidate qualification criteria that are contrary to state law . . .”

Vose goes so far as to allege that the City Attorney’s opinion is politically-motivated, “an apparent attempt to please the incumbent city commissioner . . .”

Johnston’s Attorney Hedges Her Bet: Late or Not, Put Johnston on the Ballot

Whether or not Becky Vose’s combative indignation is mostly righteous or merely tactical, it is clear that she’s hoping the court will look beyond timestamps and deadlines — as noted in the very first sentence of her Case Law Analysis: “There are no Florida cases whatsoever that hold (or even imply) that someone who timely begins the qualification process, and completes it in within a reasonable timeframe is disqualified because the application was “late”.

Vose concludes her filing by requesting the court to command the City Clerk to place Ross Johnston’s name on the ballot for Commission Seat 3 and to reschedule a “special election to take place five weeks from the date of an order granting the writ . . .”

Please note: The arguments and citations in this case are too numerous and detailed to be fully explored in a news story. WPVs reporting on these legal documents is a brief account highlighting some aspects of the case. We urge readers who want a fuller understanding of the case to view the sampling of documents available on our website (see buttons below) and to search the public record online and at City Hall.

Writ of Mandamus    Writ Exhibits    Johnston Candidate Filing    City Attorney Opinion

The Voice contacted the key participants in this story asking for comment. None replied by press time except the following:

Ross Johnston told the Voice that “While I have the highest respect for Randy Knight and all of city staff, there is a difference of opinion in regards to the qualifying process. I believe our election laws are written to encourage participation not discourage it. The citizens of Winter Park deserve a choice.”

City Manager, Randy Knight’s office issued a statement that “The only comment the city will make on this petition is that we are reviewing the documentation and will respond at the appropriate time.”

Asst. City Attorney Katie Reischmann declined to comment citing ongoing litigation.

Related Story >> City Commission Election Canceled?! Last-Minute Cooper Challenger Disqualified. Decision to be Appealed.

Winter Park Voice will continue to update this story as it develops.

City Commission Election Canceled?!

Last-Minute Cooper Challenger Disqualified. Decision to be Appealed

City Commission Election Canceled?!

Time ran out yesterday for would-be candidates planning to run against Commissioners Cooper or McMacken. Cooper and McMacken – holders of Commission seats 3 and 4 respectively – are up for re-election in March of 2013. Prior to Tuesday, neither Commissioner had any opposition. The deadline for opposing candidates to file was Tuesday, January 8 – no later than noon.

Just before noon on Tuesday, Ross Johnston, a Winter Park entrepreneur/consultant, sat with City Clerk Cindy Bonham and began the process of filing the necessary papers to challenge Commissioner Cooper for Commission seat 3. According to the City Clerk and other sources at City Hall, Mr. Johnston filed some papers just prior to the noon deadline, but many necessary papers, including required petitions from city residents were filed after noon.

City Says Required Petitions & Other Documents Submitted Late

WPV has obtained digital copies of Johnston’s filing. A review of the petitions does not show time stamps on the petitions, some of which were signed by prominent Winter Parkers including WP Commissioner Steven Leary, Daniel Bellows and Allan Keen. However, despite the lack of apparent time-stamping on some documents, the city maintains that some petitions and other documents were submitted 15, 30, 40 minutes late or later.

In an interview with the Voice, Johnston admits that his plans were paced by a “Last-minute agreement” among supporters that enabled him to move forward with his filing.

According to the City Clerk, the city was first alerted to Johnston’s interest in filing when they received a call about an hour before the noon deadline. In an interview with the Voice, City Manager Randy Knight confirmed that the 11 AM caller was local developer Dan Bellows, inquiring about candidate filing specifics. 15 minutes later, a representative for Johnston picked up the city’s “Election Candidate Package.” Ms. Bonham told the Voice that Johnston himself appeared at City Hall just before noon and sat in her office filling out paperwork.

Johnston: My Application Submitted Timely — Calls City Attorney Decision “Possibly Political”

During the Voice’s initial interview with Johnston Tuesday afternoon, he expressed concern that his submission may be disqualified by city election rules, but vowed to “Exercise every option” to move his candidacy forward. At the same time, city officials were consulting with the City Attorney’s office asking for an opinion on the validity of Johnston’s filing. This morning, less than 24 hours after Johnston’s filing, the City Attorney’s office issued a written opinion concluding that “No facts have been submitted to show extraordinary circumstances in Mr. Johnston’s case. It does not appear that Mr. Johnston was in the office with completed papers at noon. In fact, it is clear that Mr. Johnston was still submitting petitions close to 1:00 p.m. Because the complete package was close to an hour late, and there are not any special circumstances, it appears that the Clerk should notify Mr. Johnston that his application package was incomplete at the end of the qualifying period.”

The opinion also cites City Code that appears to prohibit filings after the noon deadline, ”Section 42-7(a) provides that in order to qualify, the potential candidate must do four things by noon on January 8th: 1) file an application; 2) have the application endorsed by not less than 25 registered voters; 3) swear to an oath set forth in the code, which substantially tracks the one required by Fla. Stat. 99.021; and 4) file a financial disclosure statement, also required by Fla. Stat. 99.061(5). Section 42-7(b) provides that it is each candidate’s duty to comply with the code, but that the Clerk is to notify each candidate of any “defect or deficiency” in the application. The candidate can make “corrections or additions” any time before the end of the qualification term “but not thereafter”. In summary, the end of the qualification term is January 8th at noon. No additions to the qualifying packets noted by the Clerk are to be made after noon on January 8th.”

The City Attorney’s office did not reply to WPVs request for comment as of press time.

Johnston Hires Attorney Becky Vose. Appeal Moves to Circuit Court.

Earlier today, Mr. Johnston informed the Voice that he has retained attorney Becky Vose to represent him. Ms. Vose is an experienced city attorney with a wide-ranging practice who has represented numerous Central Florida cities, as well as real estate developers, including Dan Bellows and the Sydgan Corporation.

Ms. Vose told the Voice that she is currently preparing a Writ of Mandamus and will file it with the Circuit Court within the next 24 hours. Ms. Vose is seeking to compel the City of Winter Park to qualify Johnston for the City Commission race and place him on the March, 2013 ballot. Vose stated she believes that the City Attorney’s office has “misquoted one ordinance” as applying to this case – which Vose believes does not apply — and is ignoring case law that allows candidate qualification if filing paperwork is in process (though not complete) prior to a statutory deadline.

Appeal Scrambles Cooper Campaign Plans. McMacken Home Free.

Tom McMacken will face no opposition in this year’s Commission race – effectively ending his “campaign” for Commission Seat 4. Commissioner Cooper’s path is not so simple. She is placed in a difficult position – not knowing whether she will have a challenger in the race. In a statement to the Voice, Commissioner Cooper affirms that “Last night, the City Manager called to confirm that no candidate has qualified to oppose me. I am proud to continue to represent the citizens of Winter Park . . .”

Ms. Cooper’s statement also noted that her “campaign kick off gathering” which had been scheduled for January 10, will now be replaced with a “celebration” scheduled at the same time and place.

According City Manager Randy Knight, an election that is uncontested as of the candidate filing deadline will be canceled, per city/election rules. Unopposed candidates are then able to be sworn in within a few weeks. However, an appeal puts that process on hold. City officials we spoke with are uncertain about whether the timing of the election will be affected if Johnston’s appeal succeeds at some point in the next few weeks.

Winter Park Voice will continue to update this story as it develops.

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