Maitland City Council Seat 3 is up for grabs and two candidates are ready to fight for it. Councilwoman Bev Reponen seeks a second term while challenger Bill Randolph, a 15-year city board member, is ready to serve the community he proudly calls his home.
Howard Shieferdecker is councilman-elect for term-limited Councilman Jeff Flowers' seat, as no one challenged him.
The Observer sat down with the candidates to get their stances on important issues:
Bev Reponen said she has the time, the energy and the desire and is ready to be re-elected for Maitland City Council Seat 3. She already has three years on council and feels she is the best choice.
"That's definitely a learning experience that far surpasses being on any board or any committee," Reponen said. "You have to learn how to read both sides of the issue and get the facts together and come up with an opinion based on both sides and their facts."
In addition to her time on Council, she is a former member of the Maitland Personnel Board, a former member of the Lakes Advisory Board and is currently the Chairwoman of the Beautification Committee. She's also vice mayor, filling in for Mayor Doug Kinson when he's absent.
She has certain goals she would like to see accomplished, but wants to make sure they are done in a fiscally responsible manner.
"First off, we've got to get the fire station done," Reponen said. She also wants to work on attracting new businesses, develop a master plan for downtown and the area on the west side of Interstate 4, and work on making Maitland a pedestrian-friendly city. To do this it's important that things are connected and accessible, she said.
"I think the key to our success is to make it as attractive-looking as we can," said Reponen. "If we clean up, spruce up and fix up, we will attract people and we will attract businesses."
She is confident that cleaning things up will create a domino effect in regard to the rest of the city and its development.
Reponen said a master plan for the city must be developed, among other things.
"I really want to see Maitland become the future cultural center of Florida," she said, adding that the city's current cultural corridor is lacking.
Reponen also said that the local Chamber of Commerce has been ignored and that the city should devote more time to helping the organization.
"We have to take all of these parts and make sure they're successful," said the 35-year resident. "One of the greatest places to live is Maitland. It's safe, we have excellent schools, and we have really great churches. It's just a great community."
As part of a military family and a former member of the U.S. Air Force, Bill Randolph has lived in many places, but he considers Maitland, the place he's lived the longest, home.
For the past 20 years Randolph has been a proud member of the Maitland community. Seventy-five percent of that time has been spent serving the community by working on various boards. He has twice served as the chair of the Maitland Lakes Advisory Board and once served as the chair of the Maitland Transportation Advisory Board. He is also on the Maitland Historical Society Board of Directors.
"I think if I'm elected then it's time to proverbially role up my sleeves and get down to work and get into this," Randolph said. "I think I have the capability of taking us to the next level and looking out for our future."
Aside from his time on community boards, Randolph has 13 years experience in marketing and public relations for JCR Consulting (a landscape architect firm), nine years of marketing experience with Professional Engineering Consultants Inc. and a year as Rockwell International's technical editor.
"I bring a wide range of experience to the seat, and I think that makes for a better decision-making process," Randolph said. "It's listening, and not just listening, but hearing what people have to say and looking at things from a common sense perspective."
If elected, he plans to continue working on lake improvement programs since the lakes affect surrounding property values. He would also like to work on budget impacts in correlation with developing the city.
"We've got to really tighten our budget," Randolph said. "The Maitland Center has been our cash cow for a quite few years."
Randolph hopes to work on bringing in new businesses to fill the center's current vacancies. Doing this would bring in more revenue for continuing developments.
He has no intentions of eliminating the civic center or the library, he said. He wants the community to look at his qualifications and what he's done, not the rumors.
"I think about what I'm going to say, and I listen to both sides," he said. "I think my record speaks for itself. I'm not the type of person to just throw something out there and see what sticks."
Howard Schieferdecker may be semi-retired, but he shows no signs of slowing down. Having lived in Maitland for almost 26 years now, he's ready to give back to the city he loves so dearly.
"I really felt an urge to serve," Schieferdecker said. "The most important thing for me is that I do the best for the city of Maitland."
With his experience and vast amount of knowledge on construction, design and finances, his primary goal is to get a new fire station and a new city hall built as soon as possible. His hopes are that the fire station will be done within six months.
"What the government's most important thing to do is, in my opinion, provide the best first responder service they can for their citizens, and also public works," said Schieferdecker. "Water and sewer and maintenance of roads and things, those are all very important."
Also on his list of things to do for Maitland is acquiring the necessary design credentials for the proposed downtown and bringing in revenue by providing retail opportunities instead of raising taxes.
"In this economy, people are hurting, so raising taxes is very difficult," he said. "I'm going to do everything I can to not have to do that."
As far as the new city hall goes, he hopes it will be built with retail on the first floor, which will attract even more developers, businesses, customers and perhaps even future citizens.
"The residential community here is a wonderful place to live. It's important that we do develop," said Schieferdecker, who sees the downtown development as the only difference between Maitland and Winter Park.
Schieferdecker is councilman-elect for term-limited Jeff Flowers' seat and said that with the time he would have dedicated to campaigning, he will be meeting with various members of the community and learning as much as he can. He has already met with the police chief, fire chief and the head of parks and recreation. He knows the rough time that lies ahead and the potential difficult decisions he will have to make.
"I'm not going to have all of the answers when I get there, and I'm sure I'll do some stumbling like everyone else, but I hope I'll have a lot of facts and basic understanding and information.
"I'm just excited to get started, I really am."