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Development and transportation are key issues in upcoming municipal elections

Chris Carmody (l) and Dick Batchelor. Photo: Mathew Peddie, WMFE
Chris Carmody (l) and Dick Batchelor. Photo: Mathew Peddie, WMFE

Municipal elections are being held next week- with Orlando city commission races on the ballot in three districts, while mayoral elections are being held in several cities around Central Florida. Issues driving voters to the polls include growth and development, housing and jobs. 

Chris Carmody, a shareholder with Gray Robinson and Republican political analyst and Dick Batchelor, former state lawmaker, founder of the Dick Batchelor Management Group and Democratic political analyst, join Intersection to discuss the issues in those races. They also delve into some of the headlines in state politics including the governor's call for a special session. 

In Orlando's City Commission race in District 1, incumbent Jim Gray is facing challengers Sunshine Grund and Bill Moore. In District 3, incumbent Robert Stuart faces Nicolette Springer and Samuel Chambers. And in District 5, incumbent Regina Hill is being challenged by Shaniqua Rose. 

Some of the issues are the same across all the races: affordable housing, mass transit &  jobs. 

Batchelor says the incumbent in all three races has a built-in advantage, "particularly local races where you're out there, you're meeting people while you're in office, while you're serving," says Batchelor.

"You get become very familiar with the issues, you get to host community meetings, pre pandemic and meet people. So the incumbent always has the the the leg up so to speak."

In District 3, Carmody says although it's a three way race, the two main contenders are commissioner Robert Stuart and challenger Nicolette Springer.

"Does the incumbency that Dick talked about hold true when a so much of that district is either new or added into?" says Carmody.

"I see the growth in that area. And so you have to almost like reach out to new people, a whole lot more new people than you were expecting before."

Growth and development are also key issues in the Oviedo mayoral race, where incumbent Megan Sladek faces challengers Kevin Hipes and Abraham Lopez. 

"I think this election is going to come down to a referendum on development and transportation," says Carmody.

"Oviedo, of all of the Central Florida communities, has seen a lot of growth. When you when you go outside of Orlando, that's probably been one of the bigger growth areas, and to their credit, they've done a great job of managing that, keeping their commercial districts in certain areas. You still have the chickens running around in the neighborhoods."

Meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling for a special session to ban vaccine mandates.

"To me, it's just an exercise of futility, in my opinion," says Batchelor.

"But it's just raw politics. And I understand why he's doing it. I don't agree with it. But I understand why you would, politically because he's throwing red meat to the base."