The race for the county’s most powerful position narrowed to two on Aug. 24, leading former Orange County commissioner Teresa Jacobs and Orange County District 5 Commissioner Bill Segal into a Nov. 2 runoff for county mayor. With former contenders Orange County District 4 Commissioner Linda Stewart and businessman Matthew Falconer out of the running, both Jacobs and Segal are focusing on strengthening their campaigns and winning over voters in their own way.
How did making it to the general election feel?
Jacobs: I was so excited with the results. My volunteers were sure we’d come through but as a candidate, you never know what is really going to happen. I was overwhelmed by support from the voters and this energized our campaign team.
Segal: It was our one goal. We knew that the people turning out to vote on Aug. 24 were more disposed to vote for Jacobs because of a lot of partisan voting going on. All we wanted to do was get in the runoff.
What are your plans for the last leg of the campaign?
Segal: We want to concentrate on groups that are natural constituencies. We are working hard to pick up Stewart’s and Falconer’s voters.
Jacobs: Our plans are similar to the ones for the first part of the campaign, except now we are in a more condensed period of time. We are doing the necessary, but not-so-pleasant side of campaigning, which is fundraising, but we’ve got to raise enough to put out signs and campaign materials. I will be working on community outreach on the east side of Orlando since I didn’t get enough time in with that district. We’re just trying to get people enthused about voting on the next county mayor.
What edge do you believe you have on your competitor?
Jacobs: I’ve got two advantages. One is a very passionate devoted volunteer base and grassroots organization. The people supporting this campaign are enthused and excited, which is a tremendous advantage that money can’t overcome as we saw in the primary. Two is my strong record for championing things and getting them done even when my opponent [Segal] was my obstacle.
Segal: I think she [Jacobs] has turned the mayor’s race into a partisan race, which it isn’t, by having her party send out partisan mail. But there are loads more Democrats than Republicans who will be turning out to vote, there always are. There is a huge registration differential in Orange County.
What do you think your constituents expect from you?
Segal: They expect me to deliver jobs, to attract new ones and keep the ones that are already here, and provide a good environment for employment.
Jacobs: They expect me to be open, to have an open form of government that is very transparent. They expect an inclusive government that considers a variety of opinions and represents its communities with accountability and sensibility.
What in your background do you feel has prepared you for the mayor’s seat?
Jacobs: My degree in economics has always helped me to serve on the board of commissioners and is helpful in the current economy. I served as president of a coalition of 100 neighborhoods, which gave me invaluable lessons on the impact government has on homeowners and everyday citizens. I’m a mom with four kids, and I’ve learned more from raising kids than anything else. You learn to be fair with four kids when you’ve got to make sure everyone gets what they need and not just what they want. It’s the same thing with Orange County.
Segal: My 36 years as a successful businessman and my history as an employer.