To Winter Park Citizens

To Winter Park Citizens

Our citizens have always held differing views on how Winter Park should grow and what we want our city to be. We enjoy the good fortune of being entitled to our own views and being able to express them freely. Because of this we will always have candidates that run on different platforms, supported by those who agree with them.

Charter Calls for Non-partisan Elections

It is not okay, however, that some candidates and their backers fail to honor our City Charter. Winter Park elections, by our Charter laws, are supposed to be non-partisan.

Partisanship Must Stop

For the past three elections, there have been those who have not honored these election laws. Candidates make excuses by saying they did not ask for the help, the money and the in-kind contributions, but by accepting the money from political parties and their affiliated PACs, they are condoning it.

The Winter Park voters have just shown their fellow citizens that they will not be bought by any political party, nor will the pressure from Realtor Groups take control of their City from them.

And though it is not illegal for a sitting Commissioner to support a candidate, it borders on unethical to do so and is certainly in poor taste. It would be nice to think we had Commissioners who knew better.

Let the candidates run and let the citizens vote. And let us all uphold our City Charter.

  • author's avatar

    By: Sally Flynn – Guest Columnist

    Sally Flynn and her family have been residents of Winter Park since 1961.

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22 replies
  1. John K says:

    I totally agree with Sally that partisanship should have never entered our elections. How about if we just all act like adults and let those running for office run the old fashioned way, on their own merits, talents and their visions? We thank you Sally for what you do for our town. You’re the best and that comes from the heart.

  2. Nora French says:

    Thank you for your words of truth. We do not want to think W, PK. is polluted by politics but it has become so. Maybe with you pointing it out we can get it stopped.

  3. Tom Sims says:

    Well put, Sally.

    I share your position that national political party politics have no place in our city elections.

    Neither mainstream party’s platforms/positions address the basic responsibilities of our city government, and their involvement has only led to out of control spending and fundraising in local campaigns.

    I challenge future candidates for city office, whether mayor or commissioner, to pledge to honor the nonpartisan rule, to accept contributions only from real people, not LLCs, PACS, or parties, and to restore fiscal sanity and civil debate in future elections.

    Winter Park voters are able to evaluate candidates on their merits and stated positions without outside interference or the appearance of “pay for play”contributions.

  4. Donna Gropper says:

    I totally agree Sally! The more phone calls and mailings I got from the Naylor campaign, the more turned off I was. I was glad to see that the majority of voters felt the way I did. Thanks for all you do, and for your passion for our city!

  5. Neo-Con says:

    Sally Flynn leading the march to Socialism. Stop wrapping yourself in the flag of independence, which you are clearly not. Another Clinton, Soros, Obama crybaby. The city charter?? Are you kidding? You want to target those that support conservative candidates, end of story.

    • Anonymous says:

      Those who respect and cherish Winter Park want to conserve it as it is. Those who support the sort of rampant development and commercialization of its institutions are hardly helping to conserve it.

    • Trump Supporter says:

      Why would anyone start making such unsubstantiated accusations? That’s what identity-obsessed Lefties do. Winter Parkians have never adhered to national party politics in determining their elections, until Steve Leary with the aid of the Orange Co. Republican Executive Committee, started using party-affiliated funds to beat anyone who stood in his way. Before that we never knew Republican from Democrat (nor did we ever care).
      I would liken the Central Florida GOP’s interference in Winter Park elections to the way the Soviet politburo in Moscow interfered with so-called elections in Soviet Bloc countries like Hungary and East Germany. That’s the Socialist way, comrade.

  6. Pitt Warner says:

    It’s incredible to me that the Realtors PAC sends a mailer with 100% positive message, no mention of opponent, no mention of opponent record, hardly a mention of the election. Simply, it was a “Vote For Wes, he’s a businessman, a veteran and a family guy with a great resume”. Everyone complains about negative campaigns, personal attacks and dirty tricks in political race. The Realtor PAC sends out a 100% positive piece, clearly ID’d and they (me, I donate) get criticized. Now we’re told to shut up because all this positive campaigning is “interfering” and putting “pressure” on commission. You can’t win with you guys. It is truly unbelievable. I thought more info in a campaign was good. More positive campaigns was good. Heck, I must be really of-base because I thought being an accomplished businessman, veteran and father was pretty good. But, no, promoting positive statements is bad. What an amazing little town we have!

    • John Dough says:


      Why do Realtors feel the need to support a candidate in a Winter Park Commission race?

      No one suggests that Mr. Naylor’s service as a veteran isn’t noble (as is the service of millions of other veterans), nor does anyone doubt that he is a dedicated and loving father (as are thousands of other men in our city, including his opponent). Was the purpose of the piece to showcase this service, or to suggest that his opponent somehow lacked these qualities or had poor character? Positive message, sure, but what new information did the Realtor mailer offer?

      Did Mr. Seidel in his service to the city as a commissioner offer rules preventing people from buying or selling real estate, or impact the business operations of Realtors?

      Also, you ignore the fact that the realtor campaign also contributed cash to Mr. Naylor, which partially financed the misleading mailers which were distributed by the Naylor campaign.

      Why did the Winter Park Mayor apparently contribute $1000 through an LLC to Mr. Naylor instead of sending him a personal check?

      In my experience, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Follow the money.

      • Pitt Warner says:

        Dough or John, Mr. Dough, however you like to be addressed,
        I am certain you are a wonderful person, but your letter reeks of distrust, divisiveness. Most sane people in town, and I assume that includes you, want WP to remain unique, charming in scale and a small downtown. Clean lakes, good schools and new home construction within all the rules. If we call agree on that (no new taxes, too) we there should be no need for mistrust.

        • John Dough says:

          Great reply,but you didn’t answer my question.

          Since you are a realtor, I was hoping that you could provide some insight.

          As far as I can tell, both candidates are for clean lakes.

          As you certainly know, the City of Winter Park doesn’t run any schools – not biting on that red herring.

          New home construction within the rules? Not so sure about that one. Small downtown? Mr. Naylor stated that Winter Park needed more “economic development.” I disagree

          Distrust (different from mistrust)? More like cautious pessimism.

          Divisiveness? I would classify it as a different “vision” for the future of our city. Hopefully a wake up call to the Winter Park citizens to pay closer attention to what’s going on with our City government before WP goes the way of once-unique towns like Coral Gables.

          Mistrust? You bet. There’s too much money being spread around. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

  7. Beth Hall says:

    PW, I am certain that you are genuinely bewildered by what you see as less than reasonable statements or behavior by some. Just as likely you are not happy with the outcome of the election. But, oddly you insert a post about the realtor PAC’s “positive” electioneering under an open letter from Sally Flynn to her fellow citizens lamenting the role that party affiliation seems to have come to play in our commission races.
    Rightfully, Sally notes that our own city charter calls for non-partisan elections in WP. Sadly, one political party does not seem to be able to bring itself to abide by the rules which we, as a city, have chosen to live by.
    Still, your post does raise another question. Can you explain why it is that there needs to be a realtor PAC to attempt to influence how people vote?
    Did every single realtor in the city agree that Naylor was the guy? Did every realtor even know Wes Naylor? Every developer? How long and how well did they know him? Is there a nexus between a navy career and real estate? Is there a connection between warfare training and simulation and real estate? What are those connections?
    Was there a reason why the realtor PAC thought a resident who’d lived here just five years with a fairly new consulting business located outside the city would be better at serving in city government than a civil engineer who’s lived here 20 years, operates a business in downtown WP, is raising his family here and has put in 2 years of laudable service as an incumbent commissioner?
    I may be taking a big leap here but I believe I can shed some light on the way in which many voters viewed BOTH the mailers from the GOP and the realtor PAC. These mailers were seen as products of special interest money. Money with an ulterior motive. They were seen by many as unwanted interference. The realtor PAC was seen, rightly or wrongly, by many as advocating for a candidate whom they hoped would be an advocate for larger, or denser, or less desirable development in the city. By sending mailers for Naylor these interest groups had an opportunity to help Naylor or hurt him. I will leave it to the individuals reading this to decide what effect the mailers had.
    As for the original topic, I agree with Sally – and with our charter- party politics and party affiliation ought to play no role in city elections.

    • Pitt Warner says:

      I have no idea why you’re questioning me about a politcal party mailer. The Realtor PAC is about advocating for candidates who share the Realtor goals of supporting homeownership, reasonable taxation, good schools, private property rights. If we all agree that both candiates voluntarily sought the endorsement and Wes got it, what’s the big deal? Greg tried to get it. I assume he wanted it. Otherwise, why go to interview? The PAC sent out a positive mailer that was what everybody says we need in politics: positive, no half-truths about opponent, and clearly ID’d from the source. Is too much Free Speech a bad thing? Who knew?

      • Beth Hall says:

        PW, You might benefit from hearing what Greg Seidel , in his own words, had to say about his motive for meeting with the realtor PAC. His comments were part of the library debate. He neither sought nor desired to obtain the endorsement of the PAC. His reasoning was eye opening. Refreshing in fact. Hearing him address this matter was like opening a window and allowing integrity to flood the room.

          • Beth Hall says:

            Dogma? I don’t know whether you’re suggesting that a campaign where PAC money abounds and special interests throw in together is a good thing for our city or whether you’re suggesting that Seidel is some sort of Svengali.

          • Pitt Warner says:

            Neither. I’m giving my opinion that your understanding of local politics is colored by dogma about Realtors, developers, donations and free speech that precludes you from looking at your positions from another perspective. I’m not asking for you to change your opinions, just realize a difference in opinion is about policy. We all want WP to remain unique, quaint, vibrant and attractive.

  8. Good News For WP says:

    The controversy over the Party and PAC endorsements is largely because they have a way of persuading the distracted voter that doesn’t have time to read The Voice, watch the debates, or even to think. This type of voter just goes along with what they believe is their crowd.

    “It’s the “Herd” instinct that kicks in every election for so many voters. (That’s “Herd,” with an H, not “nerd.”) What are some of the “Herds” in Winter Park?

    – Real Estate and Development Herd
    – Historic Preservation / Neighborhood Character Herd
    – Democrat Herd / Republican Herd
    – Women Herd / Men Herd
    – Taxes Herd / Spending Herd
    – Young Herd / Old Herd
    – Residents Herd / Chamber Herd
    – Privacy and Civil Rights Herd / Take All My Rights Except My Property Rights Herd
    – Racial Herds

    And on and on it goes.

    What’s amazing is that only two of the herds have campaigned directly to Winter Park voters in this election through formal organizations. And because they continue to lose by doing so, chances are there won’t be any other herds joining them next election. But one never knows.

    And BOTH candidates ran campaigns designed to get their respective “Herds” to vote for and/or persuade voters for them.

    It’s impossible to win an election by campaigning only to smart, informed voters. There simply aren’t enough of us around. And it’s also impossible (so far) for candidates to know EVERYTHING that will make any single voter vote for them. Although BIG data has made that more of a possibility in the future. Parties build data bases and may may customize their mailers to particular voters, rather than sending the same one to everyone in their party. This depends on how well they think they have figured out “the buttons” they can push on any particular voter to get them to vote for their candidate.

    One thing’s for certain. The Parties are experts at this. The Realtor PAC is expert at this. So what do the election results prove?

    Winter Park residents wanted Seidel for another 3 years, in such overwhelming numbers that even every trick in the GOP and Realtor PAC playbook wasn’t enough to overcome the Seidel tsunami.

    And that’s good news for Winter Park.

  9. John Dough says:

    After reading the final Treasurer’s contribution report for Wes Nayor, it was revealed that two members of the City Commission gave money to support his campaign.

    At least Commissioner Peter Weldon and his wife had the courtesy to put their names on the $2000 that they donated to Wes; it appears that Mayor Steve Leary decided to “discreetly” support Mr. Naylor through by sending $1000 from an LLC connected to his business in Kissimmee.

    If this isn’t against the rules, perhaps it is time to change the rules. It smacks of cronyism and collusion.

    And, to no one’s surprise, that last report also revealed contributions from attorney Becky Wilson (for the record, not a Winter Park resident or voter, BUT, a regular petitioner before the Commission on behalf of developers and land owners looking to bend the rules, and four contributions from persons or LLCs tied to the proposed development on New England (you remember, the one with the giant parking space deficit, which will make it harder for anyone to find a place to park in the downtown business district).


    Just sayin’.

    John Dough

    AKA “Dogma Doughie” according to Pitt Warner (sorry that I refuse to wear your rose colored glasses or drink the Realtor PAC Kool Aid, PW).


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