Commission members DeCiccio, Sullivan, and Weaver are moving ahead with a referendum for the March 2021 ballot that, if approved, would change Winter Park commission elections from “at large” to “single member districts.” The current plan is that the referendum would propose geographic districts for 4 commissioners with the mayor elected at large. Commission members Cooper and Leary are against moving forward with this referendum. Let your commission know what you think about this issue.
The three commissioners supporting this referendum are unclear why they are doing it or what the consequences will be if approved. DeCiccio says she agrees with Leary’s reasoning against going forward but wants it on the ballot anyway. Sullivan says he doesn’t know which governing approach is better but feels single member districts “may” provide better governance. Weaver says he has doubts about it but feels the voters should decide. Originally requested by a several African American residents who feel they are not appropriately represented, all commission members acknowledge that the makeup of legally possible geographically defined single member districts will not change the likelihood of electing an African American commission member. So why are they proceeding?
Here are video excerpts from the three commissioners trying to explain their support for a referendum on this issue:
The three wanting to put this issue on the March 2021 ballot have not clarified whether they will vote for it or against it, and they have established a new Winter Park standard for putting a referendum on the ballot, just have 5 or 10 people ask for it.
Mayor Leary commented on the single member district referendum effort in an email. He calls it “a fool’s errand.” I agree. Are these three commissioners clueless or careless about their responsibility to follow civil process and make tough decisions on our behalf with a clear rationale?
Ask these commissioners why they are leading this effort. Let me know what they tell you.
Regards, Pete Weldon
“Sub rosa” Progressive/Dem commissioners. They want to make a statement to their “fellow travelers” (all hard-core Dems) but they’re too timid to stand up and be publicly accountable as Progressive/Dems so they ascribe their motives as “for the people”. Timidity. These are the 1st generation Progressives. They are paving the way for next gen activists on WP City Commission. Watch out or better yet, run for office and stop them! This is the way the Progressives take control.
Single-member districts for a small town like winter Park are completely unnecessary. I and my family are strongly against a referendum on this
I would like you to post a comment that would explain, impartially if you can, what are the pros and cons of the current method or the single member districts. Thank you.
There are two issues here. How this ordinance for a referendum came about and whether changing to single member districts is a constructive change for Winter Park.
On the first question, this has all come about because three commission members are indulging a very small group of residents who want this. The correct path to a referendum for a matter of this importance is to get 10% of the electors to sign a petition requesting it be put on the ballot (per the city charter). This was not done and as such the effort has no credibility.
On the second question, the reasons not to pursue this are many and would take pages to clarify. As a starting point read the proposed ordinance establishing a referendum. It might as well be a called “The Who Wants to be a Commissioner” amendment. Splitting the city into four geographic districts means the pool of experienced and interested candidates shrinks from over 20000 voters for each seat to 5000 voters. The ordinance goes into great detail as to what happens if no one wants to run in a particular district.
Fundamentally, splitting a city of 22000 voters and 8000 single family homes into four geographic districts only serves to divide us. What are the compelling interests unique to any one of four geographic districts that might be fought over? There are none, so why structure our elections as if there are?