As former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney coasted to an easy victory in Florida on Tuesday night, there were two similarly decisive victories in Maitland and Winter Park. Both incumbents — Howard Schieferdecker and Ken Bradley — nabbed about 70 percent of the votes to earn their second terms as mayor.
Citizens also approved two economic incentive programs — one for Maitland and one for Orange County — that will allow those municipalities to offer tax credits to businesses that move in with high-paying jobs or current firms that want to expand.
Read more about the Winter Park race here.
More than 100 people gathered at Maitland Mayor Howard Schieferdecker’s home on Lake Minnehaha on Tuesday night to congratulate the man who will lead the city for the next three years.
As the election results were read aloud just before 8 p.m., Schieferdecker was overwhelmed by the support in the room and throughout the city, which had just re-elected him with 68 percent of the vote. Former Mayor Doug Kinson received 28 percent, while newcomer John Yanchunis captured about 3 percent.
Schieferdecker said he suspected that he wouldn’t garner more than 50 percent of the vote, which would have cost the city about $15,000 for a runoff election.
As he was knocking on doors during the campaign, he realized that many citizens didn’t even know that he had taken over for Kinson as mayor more than a year ago. In fact, not a single citizen had cast a vote for him — He was elected to City Council unopposed and then was appointed mayor by the Council.
“When I was campaigning, people thought Doug was still the mayor,” he said. “They said, ‘who are you?’ I said, ‘I’m the mayor.’ And they said, ‘Oh no, Doug Kinson is the mayor.’”
That’s why, he said, most of his campaign signs touted the slogan, “Your New Mayor.”
Now, as a mayor elected by the people, he’s energized to continue his mission to bring the citizens what they’ve asked for most — a new downtown.
“Downtown’s going to happen, I’m gonna tell you,” the retired developer said, “with the land values going down so much and the construction down, this is going to happen for the first time, and with my background and training, I believe I can be a big help.”
Schieferdecker 2,259 (68 %)
Kinson 956 (29 %)
Yanchunis 107 (3 %)
Economic incentive referendum: Yes, with 55 %
Winter Park results:
Bradley: 5,378 (71 %)
Miles: 2,122 (28 %)
Economic incentive referendum: Yes, with 61 %
Source: Orange County Supervisor of Elections
Maitland and Orange County voters also approved economic incentive referendums, which will allow the county and the city to offer tax credits to businesses that relocate or expand there.
In Maitland, the incentives program will allow the City Council to give businesses, on a case-by-case basis, as much as a 100 percent tax exemption for as many as 10 years. The measure garnered 54 percent of the vote, just surpassing the 50 percent it needed to pass.
Councilman Phil Bonus, who was at Schieferdecker’s party, said the mayor has brought much-needed consensus to the dais, giving a boost to the referendum measure.
“The referendum is a mandate that symbolizes the faith and confidence that voters have in their elected officials again,” he said. “Honestly, I’m not sure if the prior administration could have passed such a thing. No one trusted us — we were all bickering. We were like the national Congress.
“Now with Howard at the helm, we’re working together. We have disagreements, but we bring them out respectfully.”
Maitland resident Len Schmidt agreed. “It’s refreshing to see some of the teamwork, the community interest that at one time was quite prevalent in Maitland… it’s very encouraging to see that returning.”