Longtime Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn is resigning from his post.
Bruhn made his announcement via a Dec. 3 letter to Windermere Town Council members and Town Manager Robert Smith.
In the letter, Bruhn wrote he has purchased a home outside the town limits and, because the town charter requires its mayor to be a town resident, he is stepping down.
“After 30 years of living (in Windermere), I have decided to sell my home,” Bruhn wrote. “Our charter states that residency is a requirement to hold office, and I intend to live at my current address until it sells. However, I have purchased a house just outside our border, and as such, I will not be able to maintain my position as mayor.
“As you know, it is hard to predict when a house will sell, but regardless of when my house sells, I will resign no later than our March meeting in order to prevent a special election,” he wrote. “To that end, I am asking that the mayor’s position be included in our March 2019 election ballot.”
His new home, which he said has all the features for which he and his wife were searching, is in the Reserve at Belmere.
“I’m selling it, because I found one that's more accommodating for my family visits and my grandchildren,” Bruhn said. “They're actually coming down in a few months, and my wife and I always said we wanted a bigger home with a pool that some of the grandchildren could enjoy more. So we just found the kind of home that we were looking for, and we decided that we had to move on it.”
Bruhn, who was elected mayor in 2004, only told Windermere Town Manager Robert Smith and Town Clerk Dorothy Burkhalter before he broke the news to the whole Town Council during a town workshop held Dec.3.
“We thought the time was right,” he said. “I’m not getting any younger, so we figured it was time to find what will hopefully be the last home of our lives. And I'm excited to move into my new home, but my heart will always be here. I mean, I've lived here almost half my life. And I've been mayor for half of that, but it was just that time.”
In addition to Windermere mayor, Bruhn has served in many different capacities, including past president of the Florida League of Mayors; chairman of the Orange County Council of Mayors; member and past chairman of the Municipal Advisory Committee for MetroPlan; member of the West Orange Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors; member and past chairman of the Florida League of Cities' Municipal Administration Legislative Committee; past member of the MetroPlan Board of Directors; member of the West Orange-South Lake Transportation and Economic Development Task Force; and member of the U.S. Army Community Advisory Board.
He was the recipient of the Florida League of Cities' Inaugural Home Rule Hero Award in 2009, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. He was the recipient of the Tri-County League of Cities Elected Municipal Official of the year Award and the West Orange Chamber of Commerce's Sam Hovsepian Award in 2014.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the residents of Windermere alongside the 24 (Town) Council members I have served with these past 15 years,” Bruhn wrote in his letter.
Bruhn said he does not expect his home to sell too quickly, but if it does, the town will have 45 days to fill the position of town mayor.