Open Letter to Candidates

From West Winter Park Residents

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

Open Letter to Candidates

Editor’s Note

The following letter was sent to Commission candidates Weldon and Macejewski from three residents of West Winter Park. As of this writing, the residents have not received a response from either candidate.

February 15, 2016

Greetings Candidates Lambrine Macejewski & Pete Weldon,

We are writing this letter regarding the lack of concern and respect shown for the West side community referencing the debate held at the Winter Park Community Center. Candidates Lambrine & Weldon thought it was in THEIR best interest not to be engaged.  How shameful.  It was very disappointing to all the residents who took the time to come out and who may not have been able to attend any of the other debate locations due to work, conflicts, etc.

While reading these two candidates’ reasons for not attending, it is not and should not be acceptable to ALL Winter Park residents who showed up for A DEBATE to listen to All the candidates.

These candidates’ “No Show” displayed that the residents were not more important than what they perceive the Voice may or may not be guilty of.  All candidates were asked the same questions and given a chance to answer those questions. Certainly this would have given each resident the opportunity to hear each candidate’s response respectfully.

We read Lambrine’s open letter of why she did not attend as quoted below:

  “ I made the tough call to withdraw from the Winter Park Voice Candidate Forum after learning some of their unsavory information and activities. Please view my open letter to Anne Mooney of the WPV and also attached is her personal poll responses.  Again, I don’t mind that she has a bias. What I object to, as demonstrated in her last article defending my opponent, is their activist nature.  Winter Park Voice is acting more like a PAC not a paper.”

 “Upon hearing I pulled out of tonight’s forum, seat 4 candidate Pete Weldon, echoed our sentiment and said he would be withdrawing as well unless the Winter Park Voice to release all of their financiers in the name of transparency.”

As an alumnus of Rollins, I went to the Rollins Forum/Debate, and I’m so glad I did.  I clearly heard Lambrine say how she’s walked the communities and understands the needs of the people.  Weldon says he is taking an oath to protect ALL Winter Park residents.  Clearly these two candidates have personal interest in the West Side Accelerated Development. Clearly they have been asked to run to continue the City’s 2020 Vision to include the West Side community to be wiped out as is and become a Higher Density community.

Unfortunately, I ask the questions that have continuously been ignored:

 Will the current elected city officials continue to promote & allow gentrification of the West Side Community?

 Will the city officials continue to say there are not two Winter Parks?  Your agenda is to continue to exclude West Winter Park neighborhoods and community as being a unique part of the rich historical cultural that contributed in the city of Winter Park becoming incorporated as a town and later a city. West Winter Park should be preserved as a Single Family residential community allowing All residents affordable living.

Perhaps you can address these issues. The questions were asked but unfortunately never made it to you at the Community Center because of the No-Show. They were asked again at the Chamber, but never made it during the citizen input questions read by Patrick Chapin.

Best Regards,

Maria Bryant CEO/Director, Olivia’s Performing Arts Organization, “Where Dreams are nurtured and Visions Explored”

Martha Bryant Hall, Property Owner

Mary R. Daniels, Resident

Candidates Trade Punches at Library Debate

Moderator’s Pointed Questions Draw Spirited Responses

Candidates Trade Punches at Library Debate

The fourth and final public debate played to a packed house at the Winter Park Public Library. The moderator from the Orange County League of Women Voters asked pointed questions and candidates’ responses were lively and occasionally went beyond that. Once or twice, the debate heated up enough to draw audible sounds of dismay from the audience.

Candidates faced questions about their stance on the Library bond referendum, about the absence of two of the four candidates from the Feb. 10 debate at the Community Center and about the tenor of their campaign mailers and advertising.

To see video of the full debate, see below.


Video of the three earlier public debates is in the article directly below this one.

Candidates Debated the Issues

Well, Most of Them Did

Candidates Debated the Issues

Last week, a series of three public forums set a grueling schedule for candidates for Winter Park Commission seats #3 and #4.

On Tuesday, February 9, the four faced off at Bush Auditorium at Rollins. Hosted by Rollins Democracy Project and WPRK, this first debate drew such a large crowd that the event had to be moved at the last minute to a larger venue. To Rollins’s credit, the debate, moderated by former member of the Florida House of Representatives Dick Batchelor, began only three minutes behind schedule.

An early morning debate Friday, February 12, at the Welcome Center, sponsored by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and moderated by Chamber CEO Patrick Chapin, drew a similarly robust crowd.

Feb. 10 No-Shows

Unlike the other two events, however, the debate on Wednesday, February 10, was not a ‘face-off.’ Seat #3 candidate Lambrine Macejewski and candidate for Seat #4 Peter Weldon both pulled out at the last minute, leaving the stage to incumbents Carolyn Cooper and Tom McMacken. Nonetheless, there was a substantive discussion, sparked by probing questions from a large audience, and moderated by Orange County League of Women Voters co-President Michele Levy.

“Disappointing News” for Macejewski

In a letter to her supporters written at 4:34 p.m. on the day of the debate, addressed to “Dear Team Lambrine,” Macejewski wrote: “Disappointing News: I made the tough call to withdraw from the Winter Park Voice Candidate Forum after learning some of their unsavory information and activities. Please view my open letter to Anne Mooney of the WPV and also attached is her personal poll responses. Again, I don’t mind that she has a personal bias. What I object to, as demonstrated in her last article defending my opponent, is their activist nature. Winter Park Voice is acting more like a PAC not a paper.”

The “open letter” Macejewski refers to in this email was written February 9 at 2:16 p.m. You can see the entire text of the email (and the poll responses) by going to

Weldon Follows Suit

Following Macejewski’s lead, Candidate Peter Weldon wrote on February 9 at 4:09 p.m., “I will participate in the Wednesday debate if and only if you publicly disclose the names, addresses, payment dates, and dollar amounts received from all contributors to Winter Park Voice since inception. You can send that information to my email address . . . and to and”

Observer Reporter Tim Freed confirmed that Weldon has never asked for the Winter Park/Maitland Observer subscriber list.

Debates Taped Live

You can see the debates by clicking on the links below. The fourth debate, which is the final one open to the public, will take place Friday, February 19 at Noon at the Winter Park Public Library. The Voice will tape that debate and post it on this website.

In Closing — Editor’s Note:  The opinion poll in question was a live telephone poll. The pollster declined to divulge who had paid for the poll, saying he was unable to do that. He and his supervisor also refused to provide a transcript of the questions. If you are interested, you can now read the full text of those questions in the link embedded in Macejewski’s “open letter.”

Political opinion polling is taken to a new level when the candidate whose campaign paid for the poll can access the individual responses of any citizen who was contacted. The next logical step in this ‘data mining’ process might be the compilation of a “Frenemies List,” to identify respondents perceived by the candidate as friends or enemies. Such information might prove useful to any future campaign that hires the same political consultant who arranged this poll. It might not, however, be in the overall best interests of the small city that is Winter Park.


Rollins College Debate

Part 1

Part 2


Winter Park Voice Debate

Part 1

Part 2

Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Debate

Part 1

Part 2

Have the Spin Doctors Spun Out of Control?

Election 2016

Have the Spin Doctors Spun Out of Control?


A flyer from Commission Candidate Lambrine Macejewski arrived in mailboxes yesterday, accusing her opponent, incumbent Carolyn Cooper, of having voted for a 500 percent pay raise for herself in 2010.

There’s More to the Story.

Winter Park Commissioners have been paid the princely sum of $200 a month since 1953, when $200 a month represented a living wage.  In 2009, a Citizens Committee tasked with reviewing the City Charter proposed a Charter revision, to be placed on the March 9, 2010 ballot, allowing the City Commission to establish compensation levels for service as a Winter Park City Commissioner.

Voters Approve Increase

Fifty-nine percent of Winter Park voters cast their votes in favor of the measure.

In November 2010, the Florida League of Cities provided a list of peer cities of similar size and with the same “strong City Manager, weak Commission” form of government as Winter Park. The average annual compensation for Commissioners in those cities was just under $19,000. The Commission decided on a $12,000 salary for Commissioners and $12,600 for the Mayor.

Cooper Motions Increase for Future Commissioners

In a letter to supporters, Cooper stated that she voted for the annual increase but made a motion that the increase not affect sitting Commissioners. She later moved that the increase go into effect when City employees received raises, and further that the increase be implemented gradually over three years. These motions all failed.

Pay Should Cover Cost of the Job

Cooper said her reason for supporting a pay increase for the Commission was to broaden the field of potential city leaders by offering at least enough compensation to cover the cost of doing the job.

Cooper acknowledged that the timing of the pay increase, coming when City staff salaries were frozen, was unfortunate. “That was a mistake,” she said. “I was a rookie commissioner then and today would be more thoughtful regarding timing.”

Make Public Office Accessible to Younger Residents

“But I believe (and still believe),” said Cooper, “that the raise is helpful to encourage more diversity on our commission. To do this job well takes commitment and time. We should at least cover the cost of childcare to make it easier for our younger residents to participate.”

Cooper’s intent was to pave the way for younger candidates . . . like her present opponent.

Macejewski Responds

Asked if she was aware Cooper had sought to have the pay increase take effect after sitting Commissioners had left office, Lambrine Macejewski responded. Her text message, in full, is as follows.

“Carolyn Cooper is trying to run from her record by confusing the voters. The fact remains that [Cooper] voted for a 500% pay raise at the same time there was a freeze on city salaries. The Charter referendum to which she is referring passed in the March 2010 election, when Carolyn Cooper was first elected. The Charter Referendum gave the Commission the “right” to increase their salaries, and that’s what Cooper did. She voted to implement her own pay raise. It’s as simple as that.”


Several citizens, including Peter Weldon, spoke in support of the pay raise but cautioned the Commissioners about the timing. The Commissioners ended up voting on the ordinance as it was presented, and it passed on a 3-2 vote.

Repealed in 2011

In March 2011, Mayor Ken Bradley moved to repeal ordinance granting the pay increase. The ordinance was repealed on a 3-2 vote.

Winter Park City Commissioners are still paid $200 a month.

Editor’s Note:  Bradley served as Winter Park Mayor from March 2009 to March 2015.

Candidate Communications Seat 4

Candidate Communications Seat 3

Election 2016

Campaign Season in Full Swing

Election 2016

election-2016Invitations to campaign fundraisers follow close on the heels of kickoff parties, with the holidays barely behind us. The race for Commission is ON. Lambrine Macejewski challenges Carolyn Cooper for Seat #3, and Peter Weldon will oppose Tom McMacken for Seat #4.

WP Voice Needs Your Help

We are requesting that when you receive an email or a flier from a candidate, please scan front and back and email it to the Voice at  We will eliminate any reference to your name, address or other identifying information before we publish.

The Voice will use this information to post a chronology of communications from each candidate. When you are forming your voting decisions, whether you are filling out your absentee ballot or going to the polls, it may be helpful to review each candidate’s position on the issues.

Phone Polls

If you receive a phone call about the candidates or the issues, please record it if you can. Remember, you should always get the consent of all parties before recording any telephone conversation or any in-person conversation that common sense tells you is private. We will post a link so others can listen. If you need assistance, email or call 407-671-2964. There will be someone to assist you.

Some voters report they have already received one political phone call, though when the pollster was asked the origin of the call, neither he nor his supervisor could provide that information. According to the Orange County Division of Elections, if the pollsters make fewer than 1,000 calls and the duration of the calls exceeds two minutes, the call is presumed to be a “political poll,” and no disclosure is required.

This poll solicited Winter Park voters’ opinions of Congressman John Mica, Mayor Steve Leary, candidates Peter Weldon and Lambrine Macejewski, and Commissioners Tom McMacken and Carolyn Cooper. The pollster then asked closely worded questions about issues such as the Historic Preservation ordinance, the Dog Park and development in Winter Park, which could have been a reference to the Carlisle.

Attend a Candidate Forum

In addition to campaign coverage in local media, there will be four candidate forums where you can see the candidates square off in person.

Tuesday, February 9, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.

Sun Trust Auditorium, Crummer Hall, 1000 Holt Ave.

Hosted by Rollins College Democracy Project and WPRK


Wednesday, February 10, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.

Winter Park Community Center, 721 W. New England Ave.

Hosted by Winter Park Voice


Friday, February 12, 8:00 – 9:00 a.m.

Winter Park Welcome Center, 151 W. Lyman Ave.

Hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce


Friday, February 19, Noon – 1:00 p.m.

Winter Park Public Library, 460 E. New England Ave.

Hosted by the Winter Park Public Library

Absentee Ballots

To request or check the status of your absentee ballot, visit  or call the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office: 407-836-2070.

Most Important: VOTE on March 15, 2016.

Four Candidates Vie for Two Commission Seats

Cooper and McMacken Seek Re-election

Four Candidates Vie for Two Commission Seats


As of the qualifying deadline on December 18, four candidates have declared their intentions to run for Commission Seats #3 and #4 in the March 15, 2016 election.

Commissioner Carolyn Cooper will seek a third term in Seat #3. Challenging Cooper is restaurateur Lambrine Macejewski.

Commissioner Tom McMacken will run for re-election to Seat #4, opposed by Peter Weldon.

Introductory information about each candidate is below. In the New Year, the Voice will publish more detailed information about the candidates’ platforms and the issues each finds important.

Three Candidate Forums in February

Winter Park residents will have the opportunity to see the candidates square off in a series of three Candidate Forums in February 2016.

  • Wednesday, Feb. 10, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. – Community Center – Hosted by the Winter Park Voice
  • Friday, Feb. 12, 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. – Welcome Center – Hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce
  • Friday, Feb. 19, 12:00 Noon – 1:00 p.m. – Winter Park Public Library – Hosted by the Winter Park Public Library


Candidates for Commission Seat #3


Commissioner Carolyn Cooper

headshot-carolynCarolyn and Ned Cooper have lived in Winter Park for over 20 years and raised 3 of their 5 children here. Carolyn was elected to the City Commission in 2010 and re-elected in 2013.

Through her service on the Florida League of Cities (FLC) Tri-County Board of Directors, Carolyn advocates in Tallahassee on behalf of Florida’s 400+ cities.  She understands first hand that many of Winter Park’s challenges can be resolved by building coalitions at the state level.  The FLC named Carolyn the 2015 FLC Home Rule Hero for her advocacy during the 2015 legislative session.

Carolyn has a strong background in finance and budgeting.  She has a Masters in Systems Management from the University of Southern California, worked as a Department of Defense Financial Manager and has professional training in Florida municipal budgeting.  She has drawn on this background to build city reserves and maintain services while never voting to raise taxes.

Carolyn honed her management skills as a member of the Space Shuttle Ground Support negotiating team and later as Director of Contracts for Martin Marietta Data Systems.  This experience, coupled with her understanding of land use gained from her service on the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Comprehensive Plan Task Force, positions her to effectively represent citizens’ interests as the City considers how best to grow into the future.

Winter Park Magazine named Carolyn one of Winter Park’s 25 most influential people in 2015 noting,  “. . .nobody controls Carolyn … she only cares about the citizens of Winter Park.”

Candidate Lambrine Macejewski

headshot-lambrineMost people know Lambrine Macejewski (Lam-bree-knee Muh-chess-ski) as one of the co-owners of Cocina 214, the award-winning Tex-Mex restaurant just off Park Avenue.

As a citizen volunteer, Lambrine has participated in the Park Avenue Merchants Association (PAMA), serving one term as president and currently as vice president. The other city and community boards on which she serves include Keep Winter Park Beautiful and Sustainable, the Winter Park History Museum and the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. Lambrine founded the “Running of the Chihuahuas” to benefit Winter Park Lost Pets, and she is a Girl Scout Troop Co-Leader.

In 2015, Winter Park Magazine named Lambrine “The Entrepreneur,” one of the Winter Park’s 25 Most Influential People.

Lambrine grew up in Dallas, Texas, where her father was co-owner and chef of 4 restaurants. She was raised in their family business and worked part-time throughout high school and college.

She graduated from Texas Woman’s University with a B.B.A. in accounting and went on to work for Electronic Data Systems (EDS). She then worked for Level 3 Communications, 360networks and finally left to start her own consulting firm, which specialized in performance management, business process improvement and integrations.

With the inception of Cocina 214, Lambrine was able to go back to her roots in the restaurant business. She lives in Winter Park with her husband Ronnie, daughter Rachel and their family pet Oliver.

Candidates for Commission Seat #4


Commissioner Tom McMacken

headshot-tomTom McMacken brings over 30 years of experience as a landscape architect, creating parks and communities, and six years of service as City Commissioner.

McMacken is running for a third term on the Winter Park City Commission. Known for frequently casting the swing vote, McMacken listens to citizens and strives to hear all sides of an issue before reaching a decision.

In 2014, Tom was named Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year. He remains a member of the Chamber, as well as American Society of Landscape Architects, First United Methodist Church of Winter Park, the Orange County Community Action Board, the Friends of Casa Feliz, and the Winter Park History Museum.

He participated in planning the Park Avenue streetscape, the Winter Park Village and The Park at Orwin Manor.

McMacken has served on a City board or commission since 1998. Before becoming a City Commissioner, he chaired each of the four boards on which he served for at least one term, including the Planning & Zoning Commission.

In addition to Planning & Zoning, McMacken served on the Historic Preservation Commission, the Tree Preservation Board and the Public Art Advisory Board.

Tom, his wife, Ann, and their daughter, Emily, have lived in Winter Park for nearly three decades.

Candidate Peter Weldon

headshot-peterPeter and Fran Weldon have lived in Winter Park since 1989. Their children were born at Winter Park Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Park.

Peter Weldon earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Miami in 1971 and a Master of Business Administration from Duke University in 1974.

After careers for both Weldons at Johnson & Johnson, they relocated to Winter Park when Peter was recruited to run a venture capital backed startup. After leaving the startup he became a Chartered Financial Analyst and investment advisor. He retired in 2013.

The Weldons have been actively involved in the community for 25 years. Fran has been neighborhood watch coordinator. They have supported many civic organizations, including the Winter Park Library, Live Oak Fund, Polasek Museum Capen House restoration, Feed the Need Winter Park and Art in the Park. Peter Weldon served on the United Way agency review panels and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Orlando Science Center.

Pete Weldon began writing in 2008 to share views on decision making and political processes at city hall. His intent was to help make better decisions by putting policy arguments in context with relevant facts.

Pete Weldon has served on Winter Park city boards since 2008. Currently he serves on the Tree Preservation Board and the Planning and Zoning Board. His management and investment experience is grounded in a patient, long term view, based on careful study and prudent risk taking, in context with the facts. If elected, he would bring this same focus on long term value creation to his role on the City Commission.

Political Attacks Anger Winter Park

Political Attacks Anger Winter Park

Like many other citizens of our city, I am outraged at Steve Leary’s conduct and his personal attack on his opponent — calling her a racist and taking out of context her use of the historically correct term “Negro Town.” I cannot sit back and say nothing about the way Leary’s campaign has turned this mayoral race into a disgrace.


It is one thing to have different views on what is right for the City of Winter Park — rampant development vs. careful managed growth; transparency in government vs. keeping residents out of the “know.” The list of differences goes on.
Leary is spreading his vitriol using all available means. Peter Weldon has become little more than a mouthpiece for Leary. The Republican Party propaganda machine has poured in thousands of dollars into funding Leary’s mailers and ads. Leary’s attempt to debase his opponent’s character with unfounded lies cannot and should not be tolerated in silence. I am not the only citizen of this town who is personally outraged by the Leary campaign.


I’m Not the Only One

Randy Noles, editor of Winter Park magazine, wrote, “Ms. Mackinnon’s use of this phrase, in the context of a historical discussion, is accurate. Any effort to make more out of this is just willfully misleading and an insult to Ms. Mackinnon and to the intelligence of Winter Park voters.”

Dr. Gary Barker wrote, “Steve Leary needs to address this now or lose any credibility he has. It’s one thing to argue about trees, traffic or Trader Joe’s, but to wrongly attack someone’s personal honor and values is unacceptable in this or any election. Do what’s right, Steve Leary, and publicly withdraw your accusations and apologize to Cynthia Mackinnon.

How can any decent citizen ever offer their candidacy for city office knowing they are likely to be personally attacked for offering you, the voter, a choice?

If this is the kind of person who could be our next Mayor, how shameful for the City of Winter Park. Consider carefully when you choose on March 10th.


Special Election 2015 Section in The Voice

To see full candidate profiles, interviews, filings, positions on various issues and other stories as they are published, click on the “Election 2015” button in the upper right portion of your screen when you are viewing the website. Or click this button >  

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

Leary Resigns to Run for Mayor

Generous Donors for the Holidays

Leary Resigns to Run for Mayor

On December 17, Steven J. Leary announced his resignation from the Winter Park City Commission, effective March 15, 2015, which he was required to do to launch his mayoral campaign. Leary will continue to serve as Commissioner, Seat #1, until March 15. If he is elected, Leary will assume his post as mayor at that time. If he loses the mayoral election, Leary will officially resign from the Commission. 

Brewer vs. Shambeck for Leary’s Commission Seat

Either way, as it stands now, Leary’s current seat on the Commission will be filled either by former Mayor and Commissioner Gary Brewer or by his opponent, political newcomer Willow Shambeck – to date, the only two who have declared their intentions to run for this seat.


But There’s Still Time

According to Lucy Melendez of the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office, candidate qualifying begins December 29, 2014 and lasts until January 6, 2015. During that time, additional candidates may file to run either for Commission Seat #1, currently held by Leary, or for the mayoral race.

More Candidates Means February 10 Primary

Three or more candidates for any seat would result in a primary election, to be held on February 10, 2015. If any one of the three opposing candidates in the primary receives 51 percent or more of the votes, that candidate wins the election then and there. If no one receives 51 percent in the February primary, the two candidates with the highest vote counts run against each other in the March 10, 2015, election. 


February 10 Primary Changes Voters’ Schedule

A primary would significantly change the dates for voters as well as for candidates. A chart of events is below. Please note: in the event of a February 10 primary, Voter Registration would close January 12, 2015.

2015 Election Schedule — Mayor and Commission Seat #1

Mayoral Donors Generous

The latest Campaign Treasurer’s Report Summaries show that political support has been robust throughout the holidays. Leary’s contributions totaled $21,700 as of an amended December 5, 2014, report. Of that amount, five of the most recent donations came from controversial Ravaudage developer Daniel Bellows and his partner, attorney Robert Saltsman. 

Mackinnon Outstrips Leary

Leary’s opponent, retired Judge Cynthia Mackinnon, has so far raised in excess of $95,000. Her donations come from a somewhat broader base of Winter Park residents. That said, Mackinnon’s campaign began its efforts earlier. Leary’s campaign is expected to ramp up once the holidays are over.

Commission Donors Lag

In contrast, Brewer recently reported donations totaling $7,700 and Shambeck reported a total of $4,000 in contributions. These are early days, however, and things are sure to heat up in the new year.

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