Today, we continue to meet the candidates from the various races in the region. If you’re running for office, I want to talk to you.
Arguably the highest profile municipal race this year, is the Orange County Commission District 3 seat. Recently, I had the chance to interview Lydia Pisano and here’s what she had to say.
FT: How is the campaign going and what concerns are you hearing from the voters in the district?
Pisano: The campaign is in full momentum mode. I have qualified by petition, am working on signs, meeting the voters, hearing the issues, and fundraising. The main concerns I am hearing in the district, are the following:
Crime – crime is a huge issue for all of the county, but especially in District 3. We have seen an influx in East Orlando, and Conway. We need to make sure the Sheriff has the budget to put deputies on the street, and is using that funding without giving it back to the county, to come in under budget. We need to focus on Safer Neighborhoods.
2nd issue is Economic Development and Jobs: We need to deregulate and expedite the permitting process, more than the “One Stop Shop”. That was a step in the right direction, but it is not good enough. Each day that a business has to wait to open, costs the company time, money, and jobs.
The third issue is education. Everyone is fed up with the FCAT’S standards, and the pressures that go along with them. This needs to be resolved We also need additional work programs in the schools, apprenticeship programs, to help keep the kids in school who are not college bound, and help increase our graduation rates, which is critical to help maintain our property values.
FT: Unfortunately, district 3 hasn’t had an elected leader in a longtime and the two appointed commissioners both came in amid controveresy. What could a Commissioner Pisano bring to the seat that your opponents can’t?
Pisano: With my experience of seven years in local government, I have the ability, accessibility, knowledge, resources and a proven track record of my accomplishments. I am known for “getting things done and making things happen”. I can get to work immediately on the issues that affect us all, as taxpayers. Decrease crime, work with our school board rep. and local schools to increase education and vocation, promote dual enrollment so the college bound students can get their Associates Degree when they graduate High School, saving their parents the first two years of College costs, career redevelopment programs for those who need to be retrained for a new career path to get them working, and working to improve the district’s infrastructure, which is long overdue in some areas.
FT: Now, you’ve got government experience, you’re a Belle Isle City Commissioner. Is there anything you’ve had success with in Belle Isle that you think would translate well for the entire county?
Pisano: We have done citizen surveys, which help us steer our visioning process, and I think they are something that absolutely needs to be done. Department evaluations from the citizens after each interaction with a department would be another asset. They are after all the ones who use planning, zoning, code enforcement, etc. They should be instructed after each call to fill out an electronic survey, if they agree. I hear complaints non-stop about different county departments and employee’s, and the only way for improvement is from specific complaints. People who I ask, that have had issues with departments, have never been offered a survey.
FT: What are some decisions you have strongly agreed or disagreed with that the current commission has made.
Pisano: Most recently, the BCC approved (5/8/12) the renewal of the Centerplate contract, which is the food service contract for the Convention Center. This was approved under the Consent Agenda, and never pulled for discussion. That was appalling, especially with all of the controversy over the approval of their initial contract in 2008, coupled with the fact that the original contract doesn’t even expire until August 7th, 2013. What was the rush to approve it so quickly? According to the one page memo in the BCC packet, the convention marketing staff want to be able to state “Centerplate will be at OCCC through August 7, 2018. This is a ridiculous excuse. They will not be able to make that guarantee in 2015, when booking three years out. The estimated gross sale for the renewal period is $125,000,000, with an estimated $35,000,000 revenue to the county, and no discussion whatsoever?
Another issue I don’t agree with, is spending $100,000 per Month for the rent on the 17th floor in the Sun Trust Building, for the Property Appraiser/Tax Collector’s office. This needs to stop! The amount of taxpayer money that is being wasted, is appalling. I have 7 years experience with city budgets, know how to make cuts, and live within our city’s means. I can do the same for the county.
FT: As always, I like to close positive. What is something about you or the campaign that the voters and media may not know?
Pisano: I would have to say the voters probably do not know how much of an impact I have made in South Orlando, over the years. I have helped many people save their homes from foreclosure, coordinated and participated in many neighborhood and lake clean-ups, crime seminars, chair the parade for Pine Castle Pioneer Days, helped to start the Belle Isle Police Department from scratch, and Cornerstone Charter Academy, etc. I love what I do as an elected official, am always accessible, have the tenacity to know what needs to be done, and how to accomplish it. I don’t like taking “no” for an answer. I also have the most experience in the race, and would be an asset to the municipalities as well, since I see the red tape from their side that they have to go through in order to get something done.
Pisano faces opposition from Lui Damiani, Eric Lasso, and Pete Clark