Cheers resounded through Cocina 214 in Winter Park as Mayor Ken Bradley stepped through the front doors, victorious in his bid for a second term on Tuesday night.
For many voters in Winter Park on Election Day, the ballot was a short one: a county referendum and the mayoral race, with two choices, Bradley, or challenger Nancy Miles, who had campaigned on a platform of more even-tempered and open governance.
Bradley appeared to be the clear victor shortly after polls closed at 7 p.m. By just after 8 p.m. it was official: With all precincts reporting, Bradley had defeated challenger Nancy Miles by 5,378 votes to 2,122, or 71.71 percent to 28.29 percent.
Bradley credited the city’s upward momentum, and his campaign’s focus on his record, with helping him to victory.
“We had a positive message about how the city is moving in the right direction,” Bradley said. “A focus on jobs, leadership and the citizens obviously responded to it.”
The lounge area was a packed celebration for the newly re-elected mayor, who had presided for three years as the city significantly increased its general fund reserves and improved Park Avenue business.
Former City Commissioner Karen Diebel, who served alongside Bradley, said that the broad margin of victory showed that the residents were firmly behind the mayor.
“When somebody’s doing something right, you keep supporting that,” Diebel said.
Winter Park Chamber of Commerce President Patrick Chapin said he was surprised by the broad gap in voting for the two candidates, though he thought the mayor had done well in his term.
“I’m surprised with the whole anti-incumbency feel in the country right now that he could win by so much,” Chapin said. “It shows we’re heading in the right direction. To win overwhelmingly is a pure indication that the administration is heading in the right direction.
“The fact is things are good in Winter Park. The vacancy rate is down on Park Avenue; there’s an optimism. It’s hard to argue with that.”
Bradley said he hopes to continue to try to improve the city’s finances and work to improve commerce in the city.
“This is about jobs and our economy, and following through on what we’ve started,” Bradley said.
After a rapid but concentrated campaign and a long last day on the campaign trail, Bradley said, just like last time, he’d be getting right back to work.
“Tomorrow morning I’m going to be thanking the people of Winter Park, I’ll talk to the city staff and talk about what we’re going to do next,” Bradley said. “I may sleep in a little bit though.”