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Let’s thank David Strong for his service and elect Ken Bradley Mayor of Winter Park

First, you need to know that I do not have and never have had any business dealings involving Winter Park commercial property. The only property I own in Winter Park is the home I live in. My only interest is the pursuit of rational, positive, and professional governance for Winter Park.

If you take a minute to get past ethics issues, campaign misrepresentations, and propaganda you will see there is a fight going on in Winter Park that is unnecessary, expensive, and dangerous. The fight is between owners of property in Winter Park and a group of extremists led and indulged by David Strong.

Read about the history of slander in Winter Park, and then read this letter from a law firm representing some owners of Winter Park commercial property. Who is threatening whom?

As the letter linked above makes clear, the rules that guide redevelopment in Winter Park (the Comprehensive Plan) have been re-written by David Strong and his Board appointees so as to lower the value of both commercial and residential property. We already have strict rules governing commercial redevelopment in Winter Park yet David Strong is working to effectively “down-zone” hundreds of millions of dollars of Winter Park real estate. Any redevelopment of any significance already requires majority City Commission approval under previous zoning. The new rules require a super majority City Commission vote, or in addition, formal amendment of the Comprehensive Plan (a long and risk prone process) to get any financially viable downtown redevelopment approved. No one in their right mind will pursue any investment in this environment.

This is not about preserving the character and quality of Winter Park. This is about undermining the legitimate interests of every Winter Park citizen for the sake of an extreme, myopic agenda.

This is not about huge office buildings and apartment complexes being built in Winter Park. This is about further restricting already restrictive building codes to LOWER property values and deter redevelopment activity. [Edit February 11, 2009: This is not meant to imply that David Strong is trying to reduce property values although he has never indicated his intent in this regard. I am stating that lower property values are expected to result from policies he supports and votes for.]

If you read the proposed land use rules in context you can only conclude they are born from resentment and a desire to seek retribution for some sin or other fixed in the minds of those making up the rules. These new rules have in fact been “made up.” There is no social or financial basis for them, only the personal opinions and biases of the “community volunteers” working tirelessly to impose their agendas at your expense.

Unnecessary: Making already restrictive rules MORE restrictive is equivalent to shooting ourselves in the foot. It LOWERS property values and DETERS redevelopment. Do you really care whether a three or four story building is built downtown so long as it is architecturally compatible? If so, why? (Please let me know.)

Expensive: David Strong has already cost us $4,000,000 stopping a redevelopment project and he is working to spend millions more of our money without a citizen vote to force through the acquisition of the existing post office property. We all need to understand that risk NOT assumed by private investment in Winter Park redevelopment transfers risk to us, the residents of Winter Park. We also need to understand that redevelopment serves social purposes and finances our quality of life (our successful Community Redevelopment Agency is an example of what can be accomplished).

Dangerous: David Strong and those indulged by him and supporting him are the single most divisive set of personalities I have ever come across. The continued dissension, resentment, righteousness, and conflict nurtured by this small group, combined with the continued distraction and expense of law suits (more are coming) about redevelopment can only further harm our city. Bad decisions and economic conditions have already contributed to a $3,200,000 reduction in our city budget just this year. More pain is on the way and David Strong will only continue to make things worse.

We need to support economic renewal. Nobody who cares about Winter Park believes economic renewal means high rise apartments and office buildings with huge parking garages. It does not. It simply means we pursue economic activity with common sense and a focus on having redevelopment finance an improving quality of life and sustain our ability to keep Winter Park unique and independent.


It is time to thank David Strong for his service and to elect a rational, positive, and professional leader as Mayor of Winter Park. Your vote for Ken Bradley is a vote for a positive future for Winter Park.

Posted in Development, Elections, Money, Policy.

9 Responses

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  1. Michelle says

    I couldn’t agree more. David Strong and his crew have been horrible for Winter Park, a city I loved until they came on board. They hurt the citizens and taxpayers and will continue to do so if we don’t elect them out of office!

  2. Nick says

    You fail to mention that David Strong was swept into office by a huge majority, against a popular incumbent, all because he wanted to stop the Carlisle. This was no “small group”. The majority of voters spoke for what they wanted.

    • Pete Weldon says

      I don’t agree with your characterization of the 2006 election. I present my perspective and document the picture I see. What I see is not in the best long term interest of Winter Park and is dangerously myopic. Please take time to read the linked documentation. If you can find a set of facts that leads you to a different conclusion I would like to understand that conclusion.

  3. James Philips says

    You raise some concerns about the reality checks in place amongst our current leadership, but have offered absolutely nothing about Mr. Bradley. Who is he? Why would he provide better leadership, and what does he believe in?

    I am an undecided voter at this time.

    David Strong was elected largely because the Carlisle project symbolized the excesses and out-of-touch decisions of the previous majority.

    Elected leaders need to embody a vision for the future but balance that with current day common sense that takes into account the immediate economic needs of the city and ALL its taxpayers.

    Rampant and oversized development has already been reigned in by our current economic conditions. Such projects that would cause alarm would never get financed today, and likely not for several years to come. We need not be spending time regulating “threats” that are yesterday’s news.

    Based on your remarks — if they are valid — our city commissioners need to stop working on the agendas of the old economy and start focusing on key projects that will carry us through the times we are in.

    • Pete Weldon says


      Thanks for your comments. Ken Bradley heads the Winter Park Memorial Hospital. I have dug into these issues with him on several occasions and am convinced he offers a practical and balanced approach to setting policy and priorities, especially in contrast to the current leadership.

      I don’t think my letter focuses on the past. My great concern is that there has been a drastic over reaction to the post office redevelopment tragedy that now threatens our future.

      I agree with your connection of a vision to common sense, and lack of same is precisely what troubles and motivates me. To the extent the proposed land use rules codify a vision it is one of stagnation and decline for ill defined purposes.

  4. Beverlye Colson Neal says

    I attended a Candidates Forum on Tuesday, February 17, 2009, that was sponsored by the Bridgebuilders and Mr. Bradley was horrible. He did not answer the questions that were presented to him, he is out of touch with the residents on the Westside. I am African American and me and my family are super voters, for him to stand at that forum and lie about talking with the residents of Hannibal Square and walking the streets on the Westside was very insulting. I asked some of the people who were in attendance and he has not visited or call them.

    The hospital was the only topic he could articulate without having to read notes from his notebook. To observe him reading from a notebook during the forum, tells me that he is not well versed with my issues…I will vote for Mayor Strong if for no reason other than he was respectful enough to articulate the concerns of the residents on the Westside when asked a question.

    He (Mr. Bradley) will not be pushed down our throats just because you may have a grude with the current Mayor. He has stopped all of that ridicious construction in the backyards of the residents and he does listen when we call or talk to him about a problem. Residents of the Westside are tax payers too and deserve to be heard, especially since there is no African American representation on the City Commission.

    • Pete Weldon says

      Thank-you for taking time to offer your comments.

      I do not have a grudge against David Strong. I respect David for doing what he believes is right and for serving in public office.

      However, as I have tried to document here, David Strong is not providing Winter Park with rational, positive, and professional leadership. Please read the substance of what I have written and the content of the included links.

      I believe I understand your emotions. I just don’t think that making judgments based purely on emotion is constructive for our city.

  5. A. T. Irwin says

    Is there a web site that gives a detailed presenatation of Mr. Bradley’s platform? What I have seen above is primarily of 2 sorts:
    1. Vote for anybody but David Strong
    2. Trust me, Mr. Bradley is a good guy
    I would like to read his proposed policies, not just criticisms of David Strong. Can you provide such a link?

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