Two Winter Park City Commission seats and two Maitland City Council seats will be up for grabs in March, and candidates are already preparing to earn your vote.
In Winter Park, City Commissioner Carolyn Cooper will be looking to retain her post at Seat 3 while Commissioner Tom McMacken hopes to defend his Seat 4. Both have verbally committed to running for another term, but both are in contested races as of early December.
Lambrine Macejewski, co-owner of Cocina 214 and vice president of the Park Avenue Merchants Association, has already thrown her hat in the ring. She’ll be vying for Cooper's seat.
“I believe I will be an effective commissioner because I’m a take-action kind of person who strives to unite people, build consensus and do what it takes to get things accomplished,” Macejewski wrote in her campaign kickoff announcement. “I can work with a diverse team, like I did when helping craft the Private Dining Ordinance to protect Park Avenue from fast-food chain restaurants.”
Macejewski also pushed the city for a two-year Welbourne Avenue streetscape project that has improved the road with new bricking, sidewalk repairs and new decorative lighting.
She writes that her main goals include protecting Winter Park’s character, creating a responsible budget and improving gateway corridors such as Fairbanks Avenue and Lee Road.
Facing McMacken for his seat is Planning and Zoning Board and Tree Preservation Board member Peter Weldon, who has served on numerous city boards over the past 10 years and writes a blog at WinterParkPerspective.org
“I’ve become familiar with how the city operates and I have some priorities for the city that I want to pursue,” Weldon said.
“The city has a tremendous set of resources in its people and its financial strength. I want to see that move forward in both a reasoned and positive manner.”
Weldon added that he’s a big supporter of the city’s effort to underground power lines and wants to see it completed in every neighborhood within the city. That ties in directly to his support of the city’s tree management program, he said.
“You can envision every neighborhood in Winter Park with fully developed shade trees without unsightly trimming for electric wires,” he said. “It’s a vision for how all of Winter Park could appear to us 20 or 30 years from now. I think those two programs are a very important part of our future.”
Cooper is seeking her third term on the dais. She was first elected back in March 2010, edging opponent David Lamm with 51 percent of the vote.
Cooper said it’s her record of putting residents first and her emphasis on maintaining the character of Winter Park through careful development that qualifies her for another term. She’d use that same mindset to redevelop the run-down properties along U.S. Highway 17-92 with projects that display the ambiance of Winter Park, one of her main goals moving forward, she said.
“The truth of the matter is I think I make a difference,” Cooper said.
“The economy has changed and developers are here. We need someone who is focused only on the residents and the existing small businesses. We are a commodity and we’re popular. Quite frankly the sharks are swarming and you’d better have somebody there who is not tied to some business interest…I’m there for the residents. Period.”
McMacken is looking to serve for a third term as well, first elected during the same cycle as Cooper after topping opponent Peter Gottfried with 52 percent of the vote. Restoring the city’s tree canopy, protecting the city’s solid financial position and supporting the city’s fire and police departments rank among McMacken’s highest priorities, he said.
If there’s anything that qualifies him for another term, McMacken said, it’s the sense of trust he’s carefully built with residents and his ability to balance both sides of an issue.
“It’s absolutely trust,” he said. “I have sat in countless living rooms, talking with citizens and have always promised that as a commissioner, I would continue to make the best decisions possible for all the people of Winter Park,” he said. “It’s no secret that I am often a ‘swing vote’ on critical issues. Throughout my two terms, I’ve consistently shown my enthusiasm to meet with everyone and listen to all sides of an issue.”
“I am seasoned and prepared to serve again.”
Meanwhile in Maitland, seats 1 and 3 are also up for election. Councilman Ivan Valdes is terming out in March after serving the city for the past five years. In the hunt for his seat is long-time Maitland Planning and Zoning Commission member Michael Dabby. While official qualifying for the seat doesn’t start for more than a week, Dabby has filed paperwork that he intends to run.
Councilwoman Joy Goff-Marcil is also up for reelection in March. Goff-Marcil has served two years on Council, and has filed paperwork to rerun for her seat for a second term.
Prospective candidates for each city’s elections can officially qualify starting on Dec. 14 at noon, with the window closing on Dec. 18 at noon. Residents can make their voice heard and cast their votes during the general election on March 15 as well as on Feb. 9 if a primary election is necessary.