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The Winter Park mayoral forums kick off at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, at the Winter Park Public Library, followed by one at 8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 13, at the Winter Park Welcome Center.
Winter Park’s mayoral candidates are readying for a gantlet as next week approaches. A flurry of candidate forums between incumbent Mayor Ken Bradley and challenger Nancy Miles will pit the candidates against each other three times in the span of 25 hours. With those battles coming in such rapid succession, the candidates are honing their messages before they take on each other in front of the public.
Bradley is coming up on three years in office after ousting former Mayor David Strong. Now he’s hoping to avoid his predecessor’s fate, pushing for re-election on a platform that reflects on his record in office and promises a better future for the city.
Increasing the amount of money in the city’s general fund was one of his campaign priorities during his original election campaign, and now it’s one of his proudest accomplishments, Bradley said.
With a short road to the end of the election season, he said he’s working as quickly as he can to talk to residents about his ideas for the next three years.
“I’m meeting with citizens every day,” Bradley said. “This is a concentrated election cycle.”
Miles is taking a different tack with her campaigning, focusing on improving cooperation among commissioners and fostering more open dialog between the Commission and residents.
Though she didn’t name Bradley when speaking at her campaign kickoff party Dec. 5, she said the current administration has seen “an expansion of the mayor’s powers and his ability to silence the opposition.”
She said she would act more neutrally, helping to moderate debates rather than forcing issues forward without building consensus on the Commission. She said she would work toward having more citizen input on important decisions in the city.
Though she said herself and Bradley are both fiscally conservative, she said she’d approach the office differently. Now she’s hoping to get that message out to voters, while learning as much as she can from city staff.
“Since I’ve jumped into this I’ve been doing a lot of reading and talking to people, and that’s what I’m going to continue to do,” She said. “I have met with a number of folks right at City Hall and I have a number left to go. I’m just trying to get a feel for a lot of issues.”
The forums kick off at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, at the Winter Park Public Library, followed by a forum at 8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 13, at the Winter Park Welcome Center. That second event is hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce.
Erika Spence from the Chamber said the forum will feature scripted questions, but will also take questions from the audience, which candidates will be able to answer individually to avoid any direct contention.
“We’re calling it a forum; it’s not a debate,” Spence said.
After the early morning forum, the candidates will drive down the road for an 11 a.m. Jan. 13 forum at the Winter Park Towers. That debate is designed so that residents of the towers, some of who have trouble getting to other places in the city, will be able to meet with the candidates.
Bradley said he’s ready for the forums, no matter what questions are coming.
“With the back-to-back forums I have no concerns,” Bradley said. “I think it makes sense. I’m prepared, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Miles also said she’s ready for the forums, having spoken with residents and city staff to gauge concerns that she’ll have to address as mayor.
“I’m prepared for just about anything,” Miles said.