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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010 6 years ago

Our Observation

Getting involved in a civic leader's term from the get-go could be the most efficient route.

With all the changes made to our local government seats, it’s time for citizens to start thinking about what they expect from their new leaders.

As of Jan. 4, Florida will have a new governor, Maitland and Orange County will have a new mayor, and citizens living in Orange County’s District 5 will have a new commissioner. They are already starting the process of appointing their leadership teams and mapping out their goals and priorities for the year so it’s the perfect time for people to start letting them know what their needs are for their communities.

All four of the new leaders plan to focus on the economy by reducing spending and finding ways to bring new jobs to their communities. But citizens who want specific things done in their neighborhoods — roads that need to be paved or ball fields that need to be maintained — must voice those concerns in order to get their leaders to take action.

According to his website, Gov.-elect Rick Scott’s first priority is improving the economy, which he plans to do through a reduction in government spending, more budgeting accountability, investments in top universities and a reduction in property taxes. Scott hasn’t taken a stance on high-speed rail — which would be 90 percent funded by the federal government. He has said that he won’t do so until seeing a feasibility study on the system.

Orange County Mayor-elect Teresa Jacobs has said jobs and government transparency will be her focus in 2011 by holding job fairs and summits. During her campaign, she promised to improve the quality of life in Orange County, transportation, public safety, schools and ethics.

Ted Edwards, who will take over for Commissioner Bill Segal in the District 5 seat, said his term will focus on three things: luring more high-tech businesses to the area, tightening the county’s fiscal belt by reducing expenditures and maintaining the same level of public safety. During his campaign, Edwards said he will do much of the same as when he was commissioner for the district from 1994 until 2006, before he was term-limited, meaning a focus on keeping taxes and other fees low.

It seems that Maitland Mayor-elect Howard Schieferdecker will spend the first few months learning the ropes of being mayor but, with several pressing issues in the city including redeveloping the downtown, the decisions he makes as mayor will set the course of the city’s future.

It’s never too late to contact your local leaders, attend their meetings and unite your community on an issue, but to really effect change, getting involved in a civic leader’s term from the get-go could be the most efficient route.

Here’s their e-mail addresses to get you started:

-Maitland Mayor-elect Howard Schieferdecker,

-Orange County Mayor-elect Teresa Jacobs,

-Orange County District 5 Commissioner-elect Ted Edwards, or

-Gov.-elect Rick Scott,

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