Even though the election is only four days off, and most of those who vote by mail have already done so, every seat was filled at today’s Winter Park Library candidate debate. Former Channel 6 anchor Lauren Rowe moderated the sparring match between Commissioner Greg Seidel and Wes Naylor, Seidel’s opponent for Commission Seat #1.
The questions were substantive and the candidates’ answers were frequently quite direct. If you could not get to the Library today, click the link below to see the entire debate.
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.
The Winter Park/Maitland Observer on 3/9/17 published the following article by managing editor Isaac Babcock about Naylor’s misleading mailers. The article is a MUST read for every Winter Park voter and resident.
In this piece editor Babcock exposes the false assertions about Greg Seidel made by Wes Naylor in his campaign’s mailers.
Babcock also calls Naylor out for attempting to use a previous WPM Observer article as a basis for Naylor’s claim that Seidel does not consider crime in WP a campaign priority.
The piece also debunks the myth being advanced by Naylor that Seidel voted to increase taxes. In point of fact this has not occurred. Naylor has taken Seidel’s comments about millage rate increases at a budget workshop and turned them into a vote to raise taxes.
“City Commissioner Greg Seidel asked his colleagues to consider a .50 increase in the city’s property tax millage rate, which the freshman commissioner said could bring an additional $2.2 million to the budget —money that Seidel said could help fund needed city services and programs.
But the rest of the commission, including Mayor Steve Leary, said Winter Park’s decision not to raise taxes has been a clear benefit in the past few years.
“This commission has never raised the millage rate,” Leary said. “We didn’t touch the millage rate, and we are the second lowest in the area.”
Heading into the new fiscal year, City Manager Randy Knight had proposed that Winter Park continue to maintain one of the lowest property tax rates in Orange County.” ORL SENTINEL 7/28/15
“After rejecting Seidel’s motion, the commission voted 4-1 to approve keeping the current tax rate current, with Seidel casting the lone no vote.” ORL SENTINEL 7/28/15
Do you conspire to confuse? A vote at a budget workshop on millage rate consideration is not a vote to raise taxes. Do you know the difference?
Many do not, including Naylor if we merely take him at his word. Apparently you are also in that number.
Once set at the workshop a millage rate can only be REDUCED in future budget determinations, never raised. Greg stated that he wished to ascertain citizen input and desires before locking it in for good. Imagine. What a concept! Ask the people what THEY want before sitting the rate. WOW! Listen to the recording of the meeting. The tape speaks for itself. Res ipsa loquitur. Visit http://www.cityofwinterpark.org for actual recordings of every single meeting.
Color it any way you like. Nobody proposes a higher budget millage unless they want it. Otherwise, why would there be a vote 4-1 to shoot it down? I have yet to hear the “projects” are he’d like to spend new tax dollars on. If the job of a commissioner is to put his finger to the wind and see what the majority wants on every decision, then we have eliminated the reason for elections.
Unfortunately, The Observer deleted my reply to their article, possibly in deference to Mayor Leary and the City advertising dollars that flow to the newspaper every year and or those of the Naylor supporters who contacted the paper. Here is my response:
Actually, Mayor Leary misquoted himself in his Observer comment by only providing a portion of his quote. Leary’s exact quote that he referenced began at 1 minutes 28 seconds on the City Commission meeting audio file link where Leary said. “Just to be clear, we’re not raising them (tax millage rates) now (today). That’s (the discussed tentative 0.50 millage rate increase) just something we can work back from (if approved today in future upcoming budget votes for this same budget).”
The vote on the tentative millage rate didn’t come until 1:36, so Leary’s next comment that Leary’s quote was just in response to a lack of support is also incorrect. This is verifiable by listening to the complete audio file discussion that begins at 1:16 and ends 20 minutes later at 1:36. Interesting to note that during the discussion, Commissioner Greg Seidel who had been a commissioner at the time for only about 4 months, actually voices as much or more reluctance to raise taxes than any of the other commissioners.
Seidel at 1:18: “I’m not saying we need to increase it. I’m saying we need to not to limit ourselves. It’s difficult for me getting the (proposed) budget a week ago.” A more important question might be why would the City would wait until one week before the required first vote to provide the proposed budget to commissioners to vote on when the City had a year to prepare it?
Seidel appears from the audio to have gone forward with his amendment only after hearing comments from both the Assistant CIty Manager and the City Attorney attesting that cities often approve temporary increases in the proposed millage rate for discussion purposes. Assistant City Manager at 1:16, “When you set the TENTATIVE millage rate, you generally want to set it as HIGH as you anticipate going because there’s an exhaustive notification period if you go higher after tonight.” And at 1:22, “They’ll (cities) adopt the TENTATIVE millage rate a little high and then come down during their budget period.” More Seidel comments:
At 1:19 Seidel says, “Is it a quarter (mil increase)? Is it a half (mil increase)? Or who knows if it ends up being something very small like 0.5 or ZERO (increase to balance the budget)? At 1:20 Seidel says, “I’d be more happy without having to raise taxes.” At 1:23 he says, “I would like to start at a half mil. A half mil being negotiated DOWN (to a lower or zero amount increase later).
Just for perspective, the TENTATIVE millage increase Seidel recommended was 0.50 mills, or $50 per $100,000 property value annually. An increase of about a dollar a week. And it was clear from his discussion at the meeting that he preferred reducing City expenses to a tax increase prior to the FINAL budget vote which would occur some months later.
Winter Park City Commissioners vote every year to increase the taxes you pay as can be verified on your tax notices for the previous years. What they don’t increase is the MILLAGE or the rate applied to your property value. As property values have gone up, Leary has increased your taxes. And maybe that’s the reason he is interjecting himself into this controversy, so you won’t notice. And TECHNICALLY speaking, Seidel actually voted AGAINST raising your taxes. At 1:36 Seidel voted “No” on the main motion, which was to leave the millage rate unchanged at 4.09 mills. The unchanged millage rate RAISED the taxes you paid to Winter Park because your property value went up. Cities like Altamonte Springs that have government more representative of their residents vote each year to REDUCE their millage rate as property values go up so residents don’t write a larger check each year for their city taxes. Congratulations to the Observer for their excellent and ACCURATE coverage of this breaking story.
Can you help me decide?
I’m torn between WES NAYLOR, who claims to be perfect in every way, and who also claims that everyone who has ever known him also agrees with Wes that he is perfect in every way; and Commissioner GREG SEIDEL who has done a good job as Commissioner during the past two years and who seems honest, intelligent, and hard working for the residents of Winter Park.
Should I vote for Wes Naylor, who has worked for the federal government in places like Iceland on the taxpayer dime his entire adult life, and whenever he gets a question he doesn’t want to answer has a way of replying that he is only running because of his daughter? Or should I vote for Commissioner Greg Seidel who knows what it is like to run a successful business, make a payroll, and who answers every question in a straightforward manner without dodging it, and doesn’t politicize his kids?
Would it be better to be represented by Wes Naylor, who wants big Political Action Committee and Political Party money to influence local Winter Park elections and has accepted money from the same? Or would Commissioner Greg Seidel’s approach of only accepting small contributions from primarily Winter Park residents be more likely to foster a better quality of life in Winter Park?
Do you think that Wes Naylor’s approach of wanting the government to meddle in the way parents raise their kids in Winter Park with Big Brother progams is good for our city? Or do you like Greg Seidel’s approach to government of serving residents by using smart traffic (stop traffic jams) and smart development (harmonious development that fits the neighborhood character) policies to improve neighborhood tranquility for the residents?
Should I be concerned that Wes Naylor has proposed that the government conduct unlimited privacy intrusions on Winter Park residents in the form of unwanted electronic surveillance devices that would essentially have government track everything law abiding residents of Winter Park do and everywhere they go 24/7, like some kind of animal that has been tagged with a GPS chip? Or would I be safer to elect Greg Seidel, whose own home was burglarized, and who voted for additional police in the neighborhoods, and has proven to be tough on crime?
Please tell me who I should vote for. Election Day is Tuesday.
Isaac Babcock/ The Winter Park Maitland Observer is a Fantastic reporter. He does his homework. I have known him since he became part of the WPM Observer. Anne Mooney’s reporting is Truthful, Factual and detailed.
The undecided voter spelled it out perfectly. Tuesday, 3-14-17, we will have Our Commissioner!
If you aren’t willing to put your name on your comment, you are non-existent. Sorry.
Voted absentee for Siedel. Thought he has done a pretty good job. Then…..I got this crappy mailer about him and raising taxes…. and was really disappointed.
Boy was I relieved when I saw the Observer article explaining it was BS put out by Naylor’s campaign.
I guess desperate times call for desperate measures?!? That was low, Naylor….extra glad I voted for our “nerd” now.
How do we know Anonymous, Undecided Voter, My Decision aren’t all the same person?
All three comments came from different computer addresses.
I am as concerned for WInter Park as I am for our country. Money (& the promise of making more) & misinformation seem to be steering many of our leaders’ decisions. The divisiveness nationally & locally are antithetical to democracy. Things so often are mistakenly boiled down to it’s “this” or “that”, rather than attempting to see the whole, the merits in both view points & how we can find a way to honor each–when possible to do so & when it’s in the public good. Honest debate is vital. Sadly & frustratingly, so much of politics is about repetitive canned phrases (factual or not) & creating or exaggerating an image that “sells,”one found in facts or fabricated altogether.
Before I was more informed, the candidates seemed equally competent & likable to me & both had my interest. Greg Seidel has demonstrated he is earnest in working with all parties on an issue to find a remedy. He is knowledgable & seems genuine to me–not polished, just an everyman committed to his community. Wes Naylor, also a businessman, is knowledgable, articulate & has an easy rapport with others that exudes confidence. I appreciate the respective service each has given to our community.
Mr. Naylor doesn’t have my vote, however, because I don’t trust his rhetoric. I don’t trust it because he has participated in exactly what he said he found distasteful & what he told me (in a phone conversation) he had sought agreement from Mr. Seidel on to not engage in: uncivil behavior. Misleading campaign flyers do not promote the civic good. They distort it. (Claiming Mr. Seidel voted to raise taxes, for example.)
At the last debate, in Mr. Naylor’s reply to a question I asked regarding my concern over a large flyer from a state-wide realtors’ PAC endorsing him & whether he had a bias for development, he stated (I’m paraphrasing): ‘I’m used to being judged on my actions, not on what I might do.’ Well, in my judgment, he sent out a flyer that wasn’t factual, and worse, elements of truth–the discussion about the millage rate increase–were used to misrepresent what actually happened. He’s a smart man & understood what he was doing, or he accepted the advice to do it. I am disappointed Mr. Naylor made that choice, especially since he made a point of telling me how important the issue was to him.
“state-wide realtors PAC” is a voluntary contribution some members make to support candidates.Realtors have fought tax increases, pushed through affordable housing programs, protected owners from over-reaching EPA rules. Yes, the local Realtor organization has voiced opposition to mandatory historic home districts, but the vast majority of our efforts are for schools, low taxes, first time home buyers, property insurance reforms, and unnecessary regulations. A bias for development is a strange way to oppose a candidate. Are you saying Greg Seidel has a bias against development? How can anyone stop an owner from developing their property within the rules. Rather than focus on the dogma of a few in town, please understand Realtors are bit players in the development game. Our emphasis is on our local communities and in WP’s case, how to keep it quaint, small and unique within an area that is growing like crazy.
How do we know that you’re really Pitt Warner and not some goofball posting idiotic comments under the pseudonym Pitt Warner?
Refusing to post a name tells me you’re all the same person.
Well, you get a lot of free publicity on this site. And you get more because of the other commenters, both those who use their names and those who don’t. If you waved your magic wand and made disappear all those who are shy about mentioning their name, do you really think that many people would read your comments on here? If so, why not get your own blog? Seems to me that you like the free rent here and are the primary beneficiary of all the attention generated by the great articles and the other commenters.
Mr. Warner, thank you for your information about local realtors’ concerns & commitments. My language was unfortunate. I don’t believe Mr. Seidel is opposed to responsible development, and nor am I. My question to Mr. Naylor was more about unchecked development, which is how things seem to me. The trend toward density isn’t sustainable. That was my concern when I received the large flyer from the realtor PAC endorsing him. The misleading flyer about Mr. Seidel voting to raise taxes, however, was what sealed my decision not to vote for Mr. Naylor.
Note to “Inquiring Minds”: Mr. Warner is voicing his opinion. I appreciate different viewpoints as it provides me the opportunity to potentially have a broader context on an issue.
Sneak peek of Tuesday night’s ceremony where “General Douglas McArthur” Seidel will accept the unconditional surrender of his opponent aboard the USS Winter Park.