Candidate Bio

Cynthia Mackinnon

Cynthia MackinnonRetired Judge Cynthia Mackinnon was educated at Edgewater High School. She obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Emory University, where she met her husband Alex. She and Alex have lived in Winter Park for more than 40 years. They have two sons and six grandchildren. 

Mackinnon was an active volunteer while her children were growing up, serving on the boards of the Winter Park YMCA and the Winter Park Community Redevelopment Association, and as president of the Junior League of Orlando/Winter Park. 

In 1979, she became Executive Director of Hospice of Central Florida. At that time, the organization had been operating at a deficit. When Mackinnon resigned in 1982 to attend law school, she left the organization with a budget surplus. 

Mackinnon attended the University of Florida College of Law, where she was an editor of the Law Review and graduated with honors. She went on to become a partner in a local firm, gaining a thorough understanding of finance and real estate while handling litigation related to the Savings and Loan crisis. 

In 1994, she was appointed Circuit Court Judge for the Ninth Judicial Circuit serving Orange and Osceola Counties. While she was on the bench, she and then Orange County Chairman Linda Chapin established “A Place for Children” to provide on-site childcare for families with official court business and to ensure linkage to services for at-risk families. This program was the first of its kind in the state of Florida. 

Since retiring in 2011, Mackinnon has been active in All Saints Episcopal Church, where she sits on the finance committee. She volunteers in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Winnie Palmer Hospital and at Grace Medical Home. She maintains her active status in the Florida Bar. 

Q: Why are you running? 

A: Winter Park is at a tipping point. I have watched with growing alarm as our Commission has careened with little, if any, community support from one ill-conceived project to another. Whether it’s a professional baseball stadium and parking garage in a traffic-choked area or an apartment complex grossly out of scale with our community, we are in danger of losing much of what people love about Winter Park. Quality of life and property values will be diminished in the process. With my experience as a judge and lawyer, and my deep community roots and involvement, I will make certain that does not happen. 

Q: What will you, as mayor, do differently? 

A:(1) Restore civility, professionalism and respect to local governance.

(2) Change the method for choosing members of City boards by soliciting nominations from other commissioners and ensuring board members live in Winter Park unless there is a particular requirement for representation from an outside entity.

(3) Reinstitute work sessions before Commission meetings. Present leadership rarely schedules work sessions, elevating efficiency over a thorough understanding of complex agenda items. I will change that practice. 

Q: What are the three most important planks in your platform? 

A:(1) Ensure that new construction has the scale, mass and density that is consistent with and enhances Winter Park’s character.

(2) Ensure that traffic impact and pedestrian safety become primary concerns in the growth management process.

(3) Maintain and restore our tree canopy with an aggressive replanting program. 

Q: What three things do you wish to change? 

A:(1) Require new development to address parking and traffic impact before, not after, a project is approved.

(2) Make sure budget priorities reflect citizens’ priorities and protect their home values.

(3) Restore transparency and trust in City government. I will conduct the City’s business as a servant of the people, not as the chief executive of a corporation.

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