Candidates Debated the Issues

Well, Most of Them Did

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 www.Lambrine.com/blog.

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 slemongello@orlandosentinel.com and ibabcock@turnstilemediagroup.com.”

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

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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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