Jim Fitch Will Run for Mayor

Jim Fitch Will Run for Mayor

Jim Fitch announced this morning that he intends to challenge Steve Leary in the race for Mayor of Winter Park. Fitch submitted the necessary documents to the City Clerk at 10:00 this morning, and the paperwork was forwarded to the Orange County Supervisor of Elections for certification.

In a statement, Fitch said, “Today, I filed to run for Mayor of Winter Park. This has not been an easy decision for my wife and me. My campaign will be limited. My website, www.jimfitchformayor.com gives details.

“One purpose of my candidacy,” said Fitch, “is to gauge the level of voter dissatisfaction with the current Commission. I am offering the voters of Winter Park a choice.  They will decide.”

At 5:00 pm, Fitch was still waiting to hear from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections, but since the number of petitions he submitted exceeds the requirements, it is very likely he will qualify to run.

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    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

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35 replies
  1. Concerned WP Citizen says:

    New to the community. Running for Mayor to “judge the dissatisfaction” with the Commission instead of what he maybe able to contribute to our community. It’s really, really ODD. There are better ways to determine that. Maybe go to a commission meeting!

  2. King Maker says:

    And don’t even think about agreeing to a Sentinel Editorial Board interview either. Sentinel is bought and paid for media. They are not in business to be unbiased or to inform their readers. The Sentinel’s purpose is to distort public opinion to make it easier for the Good Ol Boy network to screw the public.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank you to Mr. Fitch for giving voice to WP residents who want to maintain WP’s traditional cultural heritage by moving forward with his campaign.

    And thank you to Sandy Sherrill Womble, Mark Winton, Chele Hipp for invaluable information, insights at the WPV FB page and for their efforts to actualize authentic public discourse and participatory democracy in Winter Park.

    And thanks again to the editors of this site for excellent public service journalism.

    • Craig DeLongy says:

      Who is Mr. Fitch? How long has he lived in Winter Park? What qualifications does he have to undertake this job? When will be his first debate with Steve Leary? What are his goals for the City of Winter Park if he was to defeat Mayor Leary?

      • Anonymous says:

        Mr. Fitch is running to gauge voter dissatisfaction, seeking protest votes, as a kind of referendum on the current city mayor and admin.

        Protest votes have long been used as a method for alienated voters to demonstrate some political agency, and popular support for a newcomer previously not involved in politics is a variation of a protest vote.

        A protest vote is a way for politically alienated, underrepresented people to demonstrate that they think their concerns are not regarded by the incumbent.

        While many residents share your concerns about qualifications, etc (probably all moot points, since this is not a serious campaign for election), others will vote for Mr. Fitch based on his limited but significant campaign issue: to make known their dissatisfaction.

        • Barbara says:

          DeLongy, look at Fitch’s credentials. He is light years ahead of Leary in education and experience. He actually had a long and successful career and he’s an independent. That should be enough to win votes.

          • Younger WPer says:

            Thank you Jim Fitch for giving us an option besides an incumbent that most WPers feel hasn’t done enough to stop all the concrete jungles going up around town. If you’ll go to his website and inform yourself you might find you and Mr. Fitch share a lot more than you thought possible. Nothing to lose by reading his political views right?

  4. Anonymous says:

    There’s not much lower than having a nice old lady arrested for reading her Bible.

    Yet, that’s exactly what Leary did as Commissioner when he voted for a law that makes it illegal to read a Bible on the majority of pubic sidewalks in Winter Park. It’s all documented in the City ordinances and the minutes, and would look great on a campaign flyer.

    Tell Mayor Leary that reading the Bible is not, as he said at the Commission meeting at the time of his vote, “a crude form of harassment.”

    If you want to win, make your campaign about this. Big doors swing on small hinges. Here’s the video:


    • Bravo says:

      Wow! Yeah, do it! That will wake up the voters in this town. You got it right about Leary. Here he is caught in the act on video. Not only does Leary call reading the Bible on the public sidewalk “crude” and “harassment.” Leary pledges to “protect” the citizens of Winter Park from this sweet little old lady by passing a law to throw her and anyone else who dares read the Bible on the public sidewalk in Winter Park in the slammer!

      Leary sounds more like the Mayor of Iran or the Mayor of North Korea than the Mayor of Winter Park! You gotta watch the videos! Is he American?

      The inside baseball on this is that Leary’s Good Ol Boy pals called him and told him to do this and wrote him his little speech to read at the Commission meeting to make it sound like he was providing a public service by outlawing public Bible reading. Because the Good Ol Boys provide Leary with certain benefits, Leary does whatever they tell him to do.

      Leary apparently has no conscience of his own. This could have been your sister, mother, or grandmother who Leary had arrested.

      Leary’s comments begin at 1:25 on the video:


  5. History Repeats says:

    Some are saying Fitch is too old. But the Bible says Moses was 80 years old when he confronted Pharaoh in Egypt (Exodus 7:7).

    And it goes on to say Moses lived to be a healthy 120 years old (Deuteronomy 34:7).

    Good thing the people didn’t think Moses was too old.

    So maybe Fitch is a good fit for the job?


    Leary has delivered 2 pieces of campaign literature to my home. Both brag: “No tax increases in 11 years.”
    The only problem with that is that Leary HAS NOT SERVED FOR 11 YEARS. He is shy of having served even 7 years of the 11 for which he takes credit.

    If he is not honest in his campaign fliers how can you trust him otherwise?

    Option 2: STEVE CAN’T COUNT

    If this is true we can’t trust him with the budget.

    • Leary Raised Taxes says:

      Taxes have been going up. To say that taxes haven’t been going up is the same as saying that the price of a loaf of bread hasn’t gone up in 11 years.

      The real estate tax millage rate has not gone up. But we don’t buy bread with millage rate. We buy bread with dollars.

      And we pay more in real estate tax DOLLARS to City of Winter Park NOW than we did when Leary was first elected.

      That’s because instead of LOWERING the percentage rate upon which real estate values are taxed, as property values rose Leary left that tax rate materially unchanged, thus RAISING taxes.

      This is all verifiable based on City financial statements (and would look great on a campaign postcard!). Tax DOLLARS have gone UP. Total property taxes paid to City of Winter Park are HIGHER now than when Leary was first elected. That’s because Leary voted FOR tax increases when he voted for the budgets, and for voting to leave the millage rate materially unchanged, in each of the years.

  7. Signs are Warning You says:

    Notice Leary signs are on commercial properties! All along Fairbanks which is up for

    redevelopment, at the TD Bank at corner of Orange intersection which is up for

    redevelopment and other places.

    Who do you think Leary is aligned with…could it be developers????

  8. Peacock Poll says:

    The benchmark Peacock Poll, shows Fitch rapidly gaining on Leary. An unscientific poll, the Peacock Poll gauges voter dissatisfaction with the incumbent.

    It’s a “best guess” poll, but one that candidates take note of.

    Numbers don’t mean that much at this point, as both campaigns are just getting started.

    Here are the Poll Results (based on best guess of what Winter Parkers might say if asked):

    “Are you satisfied with Steve Leary as mayor of Winter Park?”

    November 2017: Yes 66%, No 33%
    January 2018: Yes 50%, No, 50%


    On January 24, 2018 at 7:17 AM Peter Weldon posted to the WP Voice Face Book page explaining the cost to taxpayers for this election. Weldon claimed to be responding to an earlier FB post asking about the cost to taxpayers for the election.

    The confounding fact is that there does not appear to be any earlier post on that FB page asking about the cost to taxpayers for this election.


    Does Peter Weldon take issue with a free and fair election held in compliance with all local, state and federal laws?

    Does Peter Weldon take issue with the fact that WP voters will actually have a CHOICE in this election cycle?

    Do Peter Weldon’s words imply that if he does not favor the non-incumbent challenger then , due to the cost factor, no challenge should be allowed even though the candidate qualifies by all measures imposed by law?

    Is Peter Weldon suggesting that cost should be a dispositive factor in the mounting the municipal election process?

    • Pitt Warner says:

      I deleted an earlier post of mine on the fb page in which I asked the cost of the elections. Commissioner Weldon was responding to me. Nothing nefarious going on. A couple people accused me of being against elections so I deleted it. For the record, I am against silly campaigns. Waste of money and time.


        If you were merely against “silly campaigns” then you would have asked what is the cost of a campaign. Seems neither you nor Peter W. are big fans of voter choice.

        You put the bait out there and Peter W took it. Exposing underlying thought processes for both.

        • Pitt Warner says:

          Not sure I can make any more simple. I posted a general question about cost of elections when I heard the candidate was not going to debate. Pete Weldon answered. I was then called out by 2 people for being “un-American” for complaining about the coat of elections. My point was a silly candidate doesn’t deserve serious taxpayer support. Why is everything a conspiracy?

      • Cat Got His Tounge? says:

        I’ve noticed Pitt has been unusually quiet during the past few days here on the blog. Perhaps he’s sensing that the tide has turned and that there will be a new Mayor in town next month. A Mayor he’d like to return his calls as the current mayor does.

        • Pitt Warner says:


          I’ve laid off the candidate b/c he’s not willing to discuss any of his ideas in a public forum. He’s not a serious candidate so why intentionally call him out. He wants to be low-key. Fine.


            What questions have you posed to the candidate (thru his multiple publicly available access points, ie FB, e-mail, US Mail and website blog) has he refused to answer?

  10. Julia Williams says:

    I am ready for a change of mayor. The last hurricane, we were out of power for six days. Leary was comfortable because the power lines in his neighborhood had already been buried. He wasn’t even in the office and the Orlando Mayors office had to receive our calls. I am leary of Leary. Time for a change. Plus this website thinks I’ve already left this comment. Not true. What’s going on here?

  11. Ear to the ground, eyes to the sky says:


    Julia Williams,

    You are correct Leary has been undergrounded along with all of Park North.

    Strangely however the link above to city project status map shows Leary was not due to be undergrounded until 2024. He had power after Irma, you did not. He is the Mayor. You are not.

    If you are ready for change, NOW is your chance. Mail in voting is going on now. The election is March 13th.

    How long do you think it will take Leary to have someone in IT update the map to show that he really has been undergrounded and is NOT waiting until 2024 as indicated by the map? Posting this on 2-9-18. Map inaccurate as to Leary at this moment.

  12. How Fitch Wins says:

    Fitch is in the enviable position of not having to convince Winter Park voters to vote for him. All he has to do is convince them NOT to vote for Mayor Leary.

    That’s because REDUCING the number of Leary votes is almost as good as getting people to hop on the Fitch bandwagon.

    Here’s how it works:

    Lets say 5,000 residents normally vote in the election for Winter Park mayor. And let’s say if all of them voted, 60% would vote for Leary and 40% would vote for Fitch.

    That would be 3,000 votes for Leary and 2,000 for Fitch.

    If Fitch can run a successful “No!” campaign by educating the voters only about the worst aspects of Leary’s legacy, Fitch could expect to get 1,000 or more Leary voters to just stay home on Election Day and not waste their time voting.

    That brings the vote count down to 2,000 for Leary and 2,000 for Fitch.

    AND if Fitch can so effectively expose Leary’s failings on the Commission to the voters, some of those 1,000 who changed their vote to “Not Leary” might just be so turned off by the revelations about Leary that the Fitch campaign informed them about, that they just might give Fitch their vote, which would give Fitch a slim margin of victory, 2100 votes for Fitch to 2000 for Leary (or about the same margin of victory as the library bond vote from 2016).

    Stories about apartment buildings and traffic, while it will win him some votes, won’t be enough to get Fitch over the top. He’s going to have to dive deeper into Leary’s record on the Commission, so if the voters became aware of some of the things Leary has done while serving on the Commission, it would make voting for Leary unthinkable.

    Fitch doesn’t have to convince all of those voters who would normally be inclined to vote for Leary, only enough to be sufficiently dissuaded from voting for Leary to give Fitch the victory.

  13. Trending Up says:

    The Fitch campaign now appears to be in high gear following Mr. Fitch’s receiving the much coveted CJ Williams’ endorsement.

    Long recognized as a bellwether endorsement in Winter Park, CJ Williams’ stamp of approval on a candidate means that much more in campaign contributions, volunteer workers, endorsements, and other assorted niceties that candidates love, are headed Mr. Fitch’s way, just in time for the final weeks before Election Day.

    While Mayor Leary would never admit it publicly, not winning the CJ Williams’ endorsement must have been not only a terrible disappointment to the Mayor personally, but also must have sent his campaign into a crisis mode upon hearing the news, searching for ways to escape the downward spiral such a devastating turn of events can create for campaign momentum that does not receive the widely watched endorsement.

  14. Fitch Won the Debate says:

    Congratulations to Mr. Fitch on winning the debate he had with Mayor Leary at the Mayflower on Tuesday!

    Fitch was everything Winter Park wants in a mayor. Great job!

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m sorry I was at the Mayflower debate and Mr Fitch was not prepared and did not have knowledge of some of the basic issues of Winter Park.such as parking,undergrounding of the electric grid and had limited knowledge of city government .The majority of the Mayflower residents at the debate agreed with my view I’m sorry but Jim Fitch is not ready to be mayor of our city.

  15. Top dog says:

    Switch to FITCH if you love Winter Park!
    He is the one we need as our next Mayor!
    He is fair and square, he is an engineer, he knows how to read a budget, he has experience in city government, and he can be trusted!
    The choice is yours… make your vote count!

  16. Concerned Winter Park Citizen says:

    Fitch is the man we need as our new Mayor.
    He negotiated millions of dollars for Navy contracts and change orders .
    How much time is being spent by the present Commission in personally reviewing our City Budget?
    He is all for umdergrounding , but has reservations on the fiber optic project as it will be obsolete within the next 24 months.
    The new LEO satellite system will be much more efficient and cost effective!
    There will be transparency in the way this City is run!
    He will listen to the voice of the residents of the City of Winter Park and will address their concerns.
    He is experienced and qualified!
    He has my vote… I hope you will give him yours!!!

  17. Heard On The Street says:

    Many absentee voters are saying they planned to vote for Leary, but when they got their ballot, they felt like they should vote for Mr. Fitch instead. What’s even more amazing is some had barely heard of Mr. Fitch prior to getting their ballot. But they marked their ballot for Mr. Fitch just the same, and mailed it in the return envelope right away.

  18. Overheard says:

    Neighbors are asking why the Leary signs are mostly on the main streets, but not so much on the side streets, while it seems like everyone is suddenly putting up Fitch signs in their yard all over town.

    I said I didn’t know, but it might have something to do with Mayor Leary not really knowing many Winter Park residents, but wanting to make it look like there is more support for Mayor Leary than there really is by talking people on the busiest streets into letting him put a sign in their yard because more people will drive by it and see it that way.

    And I said that Mr. Fitch’s signs are going up because people want Mr. Fitch to be their mayor.

    Would you agree that’s why? I didn’t know for sure but that made the most sense to me.


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