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.
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.
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.
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.
Go Green on February 28 – 6:00 pm — WP Farmers Market
Grab your Valentine and get ready to party!
Farmers Market — February 28 at 6:00 pm
Come celebrate the establishment of the Winter Park Land Trust with friends, food and music. Find out how you can be part of the mission of creating, enhancing and connecting our urban parks and green space for everyone’s benefit and enjoyment.
What is a Land Trust?
A land trust is a private non-profit organization whose purpose is to conserve land in perpetuity. It enhances the character of the community by providing open green space for recreation, education, the protection of water and air quality, wildlife habitat, and agriculture.
Land trusts ensure lasting stewardship of conserved lands and waters by working with government to create long-term plans looking out over several generations. Land trusts connect the planning process to the public through membership in the organization. There are more than 1,200 land trusts across the U.S., ranging from all volunteer community-based organizations to large staffed land conservation non-profits with statewide or national territories.
Why Does Winter Park Need a Land Trust?
The 2015 – 2016 Winter Park Visioning Process revealed that expanding and connecting urban parks and green space is one of Winter Park citizens’ most important community values.
A community land trust plays an important role providing additional local open space, and it can supplement the ability of city government to provide and maintain green space.
Land trusts in the United States are long-lived, because they are able to transcend the everyday operational responsibilities and the changes in personnel faced by local governments. They exist solely to support a permanent framework of parks and green space in cities and towns.
Vision and Mission Driven
“The mission of the Winter Park Land Trust is to plan, finance and manage the acquisition of land and interests in land to be used for the creation, expansion, improvement, and connecting of parkland and green space within and adjacent to the City of Winter Park.
Our vision is that the Land Trust will help to ensure that Winter Park and surrounding communities will be an area with sufficient parks and open space, where the footprint of existing parks will be increased, and wherever possible, parks and green spaces will be connected in order to balance and reduce the adverse impacts of increasing development and population density. Attractive green space will then always be an important asset and characteristic of the Winter Park area.”
By joining The Winter Park Land Trust, you can help with the process of permanent land acquisition for urban parks and greenspace in Winter Park. You can become a member now by going to the website address above – and come to the kickoff party to learn all about it!
The Winter Park Land Trust is supported through private, tax-deductible contributions. Your contribution is an effective way of acting upon your belief in creating a lasting legacy to secure the quality of life in Winter Park.