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Don’t Vote for the Bogeyman!

Having observed Winter Park politics for some 35 years, I am always amused that the Developer Bogeyman shows up every election. This year’s Bogeyman is brought to us by Jason Johnson.

Concerns about Jason were noted when he declined to state whether he would support buying electric power at above market prices to pursue an arbitrary goal for our electric utility to use 80% renewable energy by 2035. Instead he claimed to me and many others that “the premise of the question may be fundamentally flawed” without further explanation. Note the lawyerly obfuscation in addressing a direct yes or no question. (I’ve seen this behavior on the commission from someone else, me thinks.)

Next, Johnson sends out mailers and emails noting he is “NOT financed or supported by the big developers.” He later used the phrase “NOT financed or supported by big Winter Park developers.” What’s the distinction? More lawyerly parsing to obfuscate the facts.

It turns out that Jason Johnson is supported by “big” developers. A classic bit of political hypocrisy that should not go unnoticed at the ballot box. While the “big Winter Park developers” he alludes to as supporting his opponent(s) are typically multi-generational Winter Park families with long term social interests in the city, Johnson’s “big developer” donors are large scale high density specialists.

Husein Cumber, Chief Strategy Officer for Florida East Coast Industries (FECI), arranged for three companies he controls to donate to Johnson’s campaign while not making a personal contribution (H.A Cumber & COMPANY, Inc. – $1,000, Blue Longhorns, LLC – $1,000, JPOP Maine, LLC – $1,000). Mr, Cumber lives in Jacksonville. FECI runs the Brightline train. Part of the FECI business model is to make money on development around train stations. Note that Winter Park has a train station.

Andre Vidrine, real estate developer and former Director of Land Development at Toll Brothers, arranged for two companies he controls to donate to Johnson’s campaign while not making a personal contribution (SW 12 Investments, LLC – $1,000 and Flange Gasket Insertion Consulting Group, LLC – $1,000). Mr. Vidrine specializes in large scale residential development.

I do not question these developers. They have every right to express their support with campaign contributions from their companies.

What is disturbing is Jason Johnson’s hypocrisy, alluding to his opponent(s) taking money from “developers” as if he is not, when he is doing exactly that.

If you, like me, have had enough lack of candor, obfuscation, and hypocrisy in Winter Park elections, I encourage you to vote for one of the other two candidates in the race for Winter Park Commission Seat #2.

Posted in Policy.

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