Here are Five Take Aways from the Spectrum News 13 Orlando Mayoral Debate

Tonight, the three candidates for Orlando Mayor met at the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center in front of City Hall, where they each hope they’ll be serving the people for the next four years. The front window of the venue was open and Mayor Buddy Dyer, Commissioner Sam Ings, and Ms. Aretha Simons were all animated as they each delivered their message on the televised debate presented by Spectrum News 13 (their coverage HERE).

Here are my Five Take Aways:

The Soccer Stadium confusion:

Perhaps the biggest story in the creation of Exploria Stadium was the Orlando City’s Decision to privately finance it (story HERE), relieving the burden of the cost from falling to the municipalities. Aretha Simons tried to call out Buddy Dyer in the response below, but it was inaccurate and the crowd in attendance knew it. This a major fact behind one of the city’s most important venues that it’s elected leader should know. My back row was buzzing and the mayor corrected the statement before moving on.

Problems well defined, ideas on possible solutions still hazy: We’ve heard all of the challenges before in this race. Affordable housing. Low wages. Public safety. And once again we heard solutions from Buddy Dyer’s challengers that are already being explored or aren’t allowed under state law. We can’t use rent control to lower housing costs. We’re already luring companies to the area that will provide higher paying jobs and we’re already modernizing our approaches to community policing. We need new ideas.

The uneven business model: The candidates each tried to rationalize bringing companies to the area while compelling them to pay at least $15 dollars an hour. You and I both know that setting a mandate on wages will only scare companies away from Orlando and push them towards other Florida cities or out of the state altogether.

That controversial transportation sales tax hike: This is where Dyer allowed his opponents to gain some ground on him. He supports that controversial transportation sales tax hike being championed by Orange County during this affordable housing crisis with low wages and even though there are no guarantees that the money won’t go towards improvements outside of Orange County. Ings gave the idea two thumbs down, Simons suggested diversifying the spending of tourism development tax dollars (which isn’t currently allowed but should be). If you didn’t want to outright support it, punting on the question while the issue is still in it’s early phases would have been better than going on the record to support a tax increase days before an election.

Buddy Dyer is still the strongest: While the TV cameras brought out a more energetic Sam Ings, and Simons did have some good points (like the unfair use of housing applications charges by landlords). The Mayor is still already implementing many of their ideas and has a strong 16 year old record to go on. He was essentially getting attacked from both sides but no damage was done and he’s still the heavy favorite heading into the November 5th election.


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