David Strong and Political Reality

Our resident anti-growth militant Beth Dillaha has been trying to kill the Central Florida Commuter Rail initiative and Winter Park’s participation in it for years. If you did not know this it is because she intentionally hid her motives from you.

Dillaha has been consuming endless hours of City Commission time for months since her election, predominantly on trying to gin up public support against the existing commuter rail agreement with Orange County.

Well, Dillaha finally got her chance to call for a vote to terminate the commuter rail agreement on Monday, January 26, 2009 and it failed 3 to 2.

Acknowledged “best friend” Margie Bridges voted with Dillaha to terminate the agreement while Karen Diebel, Phil Anderson, and David Strong voted NOT to terminate the agreement.

The most striking element of these circumstances is David Strong’s vote. Having funded much of Beth Dillaha’s campaign for City Commission and having supported Margie Bridges for election (Margie worked with one of the Strong family companies), you would have thought David’s vote was a “shoe in.” As the darling of all those crying to protect central park (did you know it was threatened?), David Strong risked his “anti-this,” “anti-that” political base with this vote. He voted against this very agreement in 2007, yet he declined to terminate it.

Why? Because David Strong likes his position as Mayor and wants to keep his seat. In an act of political calculation, David Strong figured he would lose less votes than he would gain by keeping the prospects of a Winter Park commuter rail station alive. After all, you can’t impose your dogma if you don’t have the power of political office to do so, and, there is always the chance an opportunity will come up again to kill commuter rail.


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