Even after a spirited campaign season, the quest for the candidate who will occupy Seat Four of the Winter Park City Commission will continue.
Incumbent Pete Weldon and challengers Todd Weaver and Barbara Chandler all failed to secure 50% of the vote, prompting a runoff election between Weldon and Weaver Tuesday, April 9.
Weaver led with 2,589 votes (47.92%) according to unofficial results — excluding provisional ballots — from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections as of Tuesday night. Weldon received 2,383 votes (44.11%).
Chandler finished with 431 votes (7.98%). She was eliminated from the race.
Weldon, 69, ran on a platform championing Winter Park’s prosperity and his 10 years of experience serving on both city boards and his term on City Commission as vice mayor. He spent election night at Hannibal’s On The Square.
“I think it was expected; I’m looking forward to the runoff,” Weldon said. “I know that my positive message will overcome the negativity in this city on April 9. … We have to forward as a city, not backward. I don’t think many voters understood that Todd Weaver’s program called for stopping the library project and throwing away millions of dollars of referendum money, as well as throwing away the opportunity to improve the project with a grant from the tourist development board, which is still on the table.”
He said he expected the night would end in a runoff because three candidates were vying for the seat.
“When you have three candidates, the odds in Winter Park where you have about five thousand votes in every one of these elections, the odds are it’s going to be very close and a third-party candidate is going to bring somebody below 50%,” Weldon said. “So I think it was expected.”
Weaver, 63, ran on his experience as an engineer and dissatisfaction with the city’s policy decisions, notably the contentious Canopy library project currently being debated by city commission and the public.
Weaver, who watched the results from the Winter Park Country Club, wasn’t expecting the night’s results and said he had hoped things wouldn’t come to a runoff.
“We expected due to the discontent in the city about our current government that we would come out on top,” Weaver said. “We didn’t do good enough to avoid a runoff, but we’re ready for it. … We’ll have our nose to the grindstone and keep on trucking.”
Chandler, 48, is known in the Winter Park community for her work as manager of the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, a hub for the Winter Park African-American’s historic contributions. Despite her loss, Chandler felt proud of her campaign and spent time with members at the Winter Park Community Center.
“I feel very good about the election; this was the first time in a long time that the west side has been able to do something like this,” Chandler said. “With what we had — no infrastructure like my opponents did — we pulled together a very strong campaign. We have a lot to be proud about.”
Chandler said she was grateful to people both inside and out of Winter Park community for their support.
“We have to continue going, we have to build a coalition so that we are able and we are prepared to do this again,” she said. “This is not the end of it. This is only the beginning.”