2015 ELECTION Q&A: Winter Garden City Commission

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  • | 7:16 a.m. February 26, 2015
Winter Garden commission opens with first non-religious invocation
Winter Garden commission opens with first non-religious invocation
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Editor’s Note: As the March 10 municipal election draws closer, the West Orange Times & Observer is publishing profiles and Q&As from each of the candidates who are running for office in Winter Garden, Windermere and Ocoee. In this edition, we introduce the candidates for Winter Garden City Commission District 4: incumbent Colin Sharman and challenger David Kassander. Voters in districts 2 and 3 will not have to go to the polls, because Bob Buchanan and Bobby Olszewski had no opposition.


OCCUPATION: Account manager for Trane US Inc.

FAMILY: Cyndi, wife of 20 years; two sons

RESIDENCY: Central Florida native, lived in Winter Garden since 1997

AFFILIATIONS: District 4 Winter Garden city commissioner (2006 to present); Winter Garden Planning & Zoning Board member (2005-06); Florida League of Cities; instructor for Orange County Public Schools (2004-05); Roper YMCA Indian Guides; Building Owners and Managers Association legislative committee (2002-2004); Florida Hospital Winter Garden Advisory Council

Why do you want to serve in the office for which you have qualified?

It has been an honor and pleasure to serve as city commissioner for the past nine years. It seem everywhere I go, people are talking about Winter Garden — how we have grown significantly while managing to maintain our small-town charm. Winter Garden has become the cultural and commercial center of West Orange County. With all that has been accomplished, we have remained financially strong and our property taxes are the third lowest in the county.

Why do you feel you are the best-qualified candidate for this office?

My experience with having been the commissioner for District 4 the past nine years has given me a unique ability to lead Winter Garden through the most challenging economic time in recent history. There is no doubt that Winter Garden is a great city today because of the decisions that we have made.

What do you feel are the most important issues now that need to be addressed?

• Having our fire department transport patients to the hospital. Currently, they are handed off to a third-party ambulance company, which requires additional time to relay information to the ambulance company. The firefighters are the first ones on the scene, stabilizing the patient, getting their medical history, information from family members and creating a human connection with the family and patient. Having the firefighters transport the patients to the hospital will allow for continuity of care and cut crucial minutes by providing the ambulance transportation in house. In addition, the city conducted a study that concluded the transportation service will pay for itself and have a positive cash flow.

• Additional fire station in District 4. With the expansion of new homes in Winter Garden in the Marsh Road area, we need another fire station to reduce response times to medical emergencies and fires. When I was first elected, District 4 did not have a fire station. I worked to bring the first fire station to District 4 on Daniels Road. Now, I will work to bring the second fire station to District 4.

• Expansion of our downtown to include additional parking for residents and visiting guests. We are discussing the opportunities available with the recent approval of a parking garage and purchase of additional land.

What are your goals if elected?

• I am currently working with the Expressway Authority to adjust the current exit from State Road 429 onto Stoneybrook Parkway/State Road 535 to better improve the traffic flow at this key intersection near the Winter Garden Village.

• I am on the Florida Hospital Winter Garden advisory council, which is shaping the direction of health care and how these services will be delivered at the new Florida Hospital Winter Garden location.

• State Road 50 corridor improvements Phase I incorporated the landscape medians, upgraded traffic lights, crosswalks to add character and beauty. Now we are looking at attracting quality business opportunities for redevelopment of current blighted areas. We’re currently working on replacing the old hotel and abandoned gas station at S.R. 50 and Daniels Road with a new Wawa, hotel and restaurant.


OCCUPATION: Task leader/senior systems engineer at MITRE Corporation

FAMILY: Jill, wife of 36 years; three children

RESIDENCY: In district since 2010

CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS (PAST AND PRESENT): Retired U.S. Air Force major; Winter Garden Planning and Zoning Board member (2015); Creve Coeur (Missouri) City Council member (2002-2010) and president (2005-2006); Belle Meade Homeowners Association Board of Directors (2011-2013), Belle Meade Architectural Review Board (2011 to present)

Why do you want to serve in the office for which you have qualified?

I have always played an active role in my community. I participated in city council/commission meetings, work sessions, sat on committees and organized citizen information meetings. More than 12 years ago, I realized I could make a more significant difference as an elected official providing proactive representation for residents and the business community. I am looking forward to bringing this high level of commitment to the city of Winter Garden.

Why do you feel you are the best-qualified candidate for this office?

My knowledge and proven performance during more than 35 years of military and public service makes me the best choice to serve the residents of Winter Garden. After completing my career and retiring as a major in the U.S. Air Force, I continued my public service as systems engineer supporting our nation’s defense. At a local level, I served for more than eight years as an elected representative in suburban St. Louis. I earned a reputation for my ability to work collaboratively with other elected officials, city staff and other organizations. My commitment to residents and businesses was recognized by the local chamber of commerce when they awarded me the Legislator of the Year award in 2006.

What do you feel are the most important issues now that need to be addressed?

Our city is experiencing rapid growth through annexation, and many new homes and businesses are being built.  Winter Garden is a great place to live, work and play with a family friendly, small-town feel. We are lucky to have many people wanting to live in our community. While we currently enjoy the luxury of space, it is important to continually evaluate our comprehensive land-use plan. I will make sure our infrastructure issues are addressed, keeping pace with our growth and still protecting the personality of our community.

Our vibrant community attracts many families and enthusiasts who enjoy walking, biking and other outdoor activities in our community. Providing a safe, family-friendly environment is vitally important to me. I advocated for the completion of a sidewalk along a busy street and followed up with our Winter Garden city staff until it was finished. In addition, I worked closely with city staff to create a school crosswalk and add a light to illuminate a previously dark school bus stop to help ensure our children’s safety.

What are your goals if elected?

Active, informed residents and businesses play vital roles in the strength of a community. I believe in the importance of encouraging them to communicate and connect with their elected representative. To accomplish this, I will be accessible, hold town hall meetings and work diligently to keep people informed and up to date on key city issues. Together, we can make our community even better.

I learned the importance of limiting and prioritizing spending as a military program manager of fiscally large programs and as a city council member in suburban St. Louis. I will be conscientious and ensure critical items on the city budget are fully addressed before less-critical concerns while maintaining fiscal responsibility.


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