The candidates for Orlando Mayor all came together this evening, inside of a packed College Park Community Center to talk priorities, growth, and quality of life to the audience in attendance.
Mayor Buddy Dyer, City Commissioner Phil Diamond, Businessman Ken Mulvaney, and Activist/Organizer Mike Cantone all took about 5 to 8 minutes to go over their platform and describe their vision for Orlando.
This was not a debate. It was a forum and there were no edgy exchanges or loud crowd reaction. It was the first time they were seen together and the first time they could criticize Buddy Dyer with the Mayor sitting only a few feet away. There was a drawing that determined the order. Let’s run through each candidates speech.
Ken Mulvaney: Mulvaney spoke fondly about building his life here in Orlando. He brought up term limits saying it would bring in new ideas and the concept of rescheduling elections to save the city money. He said the city should get involved with education and promoted a stronger open door policy.
Mulvaney did fine. The last man to enter the race had the misfortune of being the first to speak at the forum.
Phil Diamond: It appears as if Mayor Buddy Dyer’s most dangerous opponent is the one that’s been sitting next to him on the commission the entire time.
Sounding energized and having the biggest identifiable following in attendance, Diamond said he thought the Mayor was a nice guy but had a clear 3-point outline of what he believed the Mayor did wrong. “When you mistakes spending taxpayer money it takes away from other critical resources. The three points were.
1. The deal the City got for the Amway center and that public money paid for 80% of it.
2. Selling the building across from the Amway center to the Magic without putting it up for bid for other businesses.
3. The city having to pay 3 mil (land and destruction of the Amway Arena) when it shouldn’t have cost the taxpayers anything.
He brought up using Phone Apps for city repairs. In fairness Dyer is proud of his “Pothole Hotline” still, an app could be neat.
Phil Diamond impressed this evening.
Mike Cantone: Cantone’s activist background has made him a gifted speaker and using a small portion of the existing city budget for business development has promise. He wants to cut off funding for the Chamber Commerce which has been tossed around in the media recently.
He’s proud of his liberal roots which could turn off Republican voters in this non-partisan race and he brings up his age (28) which could leave some asking if he’s ready to lead Orlando.
Mayor Buddy Dyer: This is Dyer’s turf, he lives in College Park and enjoyed the benefit of going last. But, the Mayor didn’t directly address any of the his opponents attacks. Instead this was a sampler of his State of the City address. He’s proud of Sunrail and declared he will get to the Citrus Bowl.
He customized parts of his speech to College Park, pointing out individual projects in the area, including the community center this event was being held in.
His proudest declaration was that Orlando is in the best financial shape of any city in Florida and touted the AAA bond rating.
Dyer glided from issue to issue and emphasized the desire to finish the projects he’s started.
So who won?: Well, it wasn’t a debate. It was an appetizer for one. I thought Phil Diamond spoke very well and strategically Buddy Dyer benefited because he’s going to prepare rebuttals for what he heard tonight. As for the next traditional debate event. It’s being hosted by the Orlando Sentinel Wednesday night and will be moderated by Columnist Scott Maxwell, Reporter Mark Schlueb, and Fox 35 reporter Mike Synan.
Tickets for that event can purchased here.
Here are more photos from the forum tonight.