Gary Brewer came to Winter Park in 1973 to open Jacobson’s department store, which he managed for 30 years. After Jacobson’s closed, Brewer devoted the next 13 years of his career to being a Commissioned Professional for the Boy Scouts of America in Central Florida. He is an Eagle Scout and a lifetime Scouter.
In 1982, Brewer was elected to the Winter Park City Commission, where he served until 1993, when he was elected Mayor of Winter Park. His list of services to the community is a long one and includes being President of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of United Way of Winter Park, Chairman of Trustees and Board of Deacons at the First Congregational Church of Winter Park, board member of Metroplan of Central Florida and board member of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College. Brewer presently serves as chair of the Winter Park Civil Service Board, which provides oversight for the Winter Park Police and Fire Departments.
Brewer has three daughters.
Q: Why are you running?
A: I love Winter Park. This is my home, and I believe every citizen has an obligation, based on their talents, to give back to the community. I am troubled that we seem, once again, to have reached a tipping point where the community is polarized over growth and density. A community is a living organism – if it doesn’t grow, it will die. The issue is: how will it grow? I have a talent for bringing people together to reach consensus and to find common ground solutions to issues confronting our community.
Q: What will you, as commissioner, do differently?
A: I believe we need more diversity of thought represented on our advisory boards. When I was mayor, I chose to delegate identification of advisory board candidates to each individual commissioner and then I would advance their recommendations for confirmation by the Commission. I believe that practice developed a more balanced point of view at the advisory board level. If elected, I would encourage the mayor to once again adopt this practice.
Q: What are the three most important planks in your platform?
A: (1) An economically diverse community with balanced, sustainable growth and a focus on residential neighborhoods.
(2) Environmental stewardship with a focus on urban forestry, community green space and exceptional recreation facilities.
(3) Accredited Police and Fire Departments. Public safety is our first and highest priority. Our Police and Fire Departments are among a select group of U.S. cities that are accredited. We must maintain these accreditations to ensure the highest level of service to the citizens of Winter Park.
Q: What three things do you wish to change?
A: (1) Restore the practice of a more inclusive policy regarding board appointments.
(2) Restore the practice of separate Commission work sessions the day before the scheduled public Commission hearing.
(3) Restore the four authorized but un-funded sworn officer positions in the Winter Park Police Department.