Cooper, McMacken, Reponen win

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  • | 11:01 a.m. March 11, 2010
Photo by: Abraham Aboraya - Jeff Cooper congratulates his mother, Carolyn Cooper, after her election to the Winter Park City Commission on Tuesday.
Photo by: Abraham Aboraya - Jeff Cooper congratulates his mother, Carolyn Cooper, after her election to the Winter Park City Commission on Tuesday.
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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The computer room, warm with the air of a dozen campaign supporters and family members, buzzed with tense anticipation. The refresh button was hit every few seconds.

The computer screen showed that Carolyn Cooper was beating out David Lamm for Winter Park City Commission Seat 3 when Cooper's iPhone rang. On the other line was Lamm, congratulating her and conceding the race.

She kept her composure, thanked her opponent, hung up, and the room exploded with contagious cheers, spreading throughout the house on New York Avenue in Winter Park. Cooper — the underdog, the candidate who campaigned with the mantra of preserving Winter Park and staving off undesired development — had won.

"We've worked very hard," Cooper said a few minutes later. "What you see is truly grass roots. It truly is community."

Cooper beat Lamm 51 percent to 49 percent, and Tom McMacken beat Peter Gottfried 52 percent to 47. More than 6,100 Winter Park residents voted in the election.

"We're very excited," McMacken said. "It was a close race. … We're just very happy. We're going to spend the night with family and friends."

In nearby Maitland, incumbent Bev Reponen won a commanding 68 percent of the vote to beat challenger Bill Randolph. Howard Schieferdecker was unopposed to replace term-limited Councilman Jeff Flowers.

Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles predicted that Winter Park and Maitland would have the highest turnout in Orange County.

"We knew going in, as we do with any election, that ballots and candidates and issues are what drive turnout," Cowles said. "It's very clear, particularly with Winter Park and Maitland, that the candidates and the issues are driving the turnout."

Winter Park also tweaked its constitution during Tuesday's election. The one drawing the biggest contention, though, was Amendment 10, which, had it passed, would require a 4-1 vote to change the language of the Comprehensive Plan on land-use changes.

Amendment 10 was the only ballot initiative to be voted down in the election — all 11 others were voted in. Cooper, a supporter of Amendment 10, said it was "disappointing" that it lost.

Winter Park financial planner Scott Peelen voted for Gottfried and Lamm this election cycle. In his mind, the economy, jobs and economic development were the foremost issues.

"I think anyone that wants to hamstring all development, which I feel very strongly that the others want to do, really will eventually hurt the job situation, the economy and the tax base of Winter Park," Peelen said. "While they say they don't want to stop all business, business has too many places to go in Central Florida rather than settling in a place that doesn't embrace them with open arms."

In Winter Park, Margie Bridges left Seat 4 because she made a campaign promise to only serve one term. Sitting Commissioner Karen Diebel didn't run because she's vying for the Republican nomination to run against Suzanne Kosmas for the U.S. House of Representatives.


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