The votes are in, the polls have closed and the city of Winter Park has a new commissioner.
Challenger Todd Weaver defeated incumbent Pete Weldon in the runoff election for Winter Park City Commissioner Seat Four on Tuesday, April 9, — a result that brings a new face to the city’s governing body.
Winter Park’s newest commissioner captured 3,207 votes (52.33%) compared to Weldon’s 2,922 votes (47.67%), according to unofficial results from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections.
“I’m just thrilled with the team we put together — it took a year and hundreds of people helped us,” Weaver said. “This is a win for Winter Park.”
“Winter Park is a unique place. It’s not Maitland, it’s not Orlando and it’s not Longwood. There’s special things about Winter Park that we need to protect: the lakes, the trees, the ambience and the character of it. I saw that slipping away over the last 10 years and I didn’t want to be a politician or a statesman, but I felt like I had to do something.”
Weaver said that one of his biggest priorities for his upcoming term is resolving the traffic issues in Winter Park.
“I’ve been doing a lot of research — I’m on the League of Women Voters transportation committee and I’ve met with a lot of public officials and staff with FDOT and tri-county officials and I believe there is quite a few things we can do,” Weaver said. “A road is like a pipe and if you try to stuff more water through a pipe, it starts to leak. What we’re seeing now is that several of our major arteries are at capacity and they’re leaking into neighborhoods with cut-through traffic. That can be resolved and initially I want to look at the 17-92/Fairbanks intersection. … I believe we have the engineering chops on the commission now to be able to do that and direct staff accordingly.”
Weaver added that another top priority is bringing the Winter Park Canopy project within a financially feasible and reasonable design. The city may consider the project on budget, but the cost of architect Sir David Adjaye’s previous projects and Weaver’s experience as a builder and general contractor say otherwise, he said.
“I believe that the project has gone off the rails — it wasn’t what the voters voted for,” Weaver said. “I voted for it and I think there’s some unfortunate things that have happened without the public input, but we can correct it. We can right the boat, we can stay in budget and we can deliver a first-class library.”
Despite falling short in his bid for re-election, Weldon said he wishes the city commission all the best moving forward and that he’s proud to have served on the commission for the past three years.
“I look forward to seeing our city proceed down a sensible course,” Weldon said. “I have nothing but hope for our city and I’ve enjoyed my service to the city.”
“I think we all know that the city is in the best shape it’s ever been in. I think there are recognizable decisions made by the city commission that I was involved in that helped bring that about. I hope that the commission going forward will be able to make equal or superior changes that will add more value for the residents of our city.”
Weldon said he was grateful for all the support he received, adding that he hopes Winter Park will focus on the positive as it presses forward.
“I appreciate all the effort that all the people put into my campaign — I appreciate Mr. Weaver’s hard work,” Weldon said. “He definitely worked his butt off and I respect him for that. We’ll see what happens down the road.”
“I believe that the positive things in Winter Park should dominate the political discussion and that we should have sensible, fact-based policy considerations amongst our citizens before we vote.”
Tuesday’s results come about month after an initial election on March 12, which saw third candidate Barbara Chandler defeated in the race when she received 431 votes (7.98%) compared to Todd Weaver’s 2,589 votes (47.92%) and Pete Weldon’s 2,383 votes (44.11%). All three candidates falling short of the 50% mark forced Tuesday’s runoff election.