ORLANDO, Fla. — Buddy Dyer will stay in Orlando City Hall as mayor, winning another four years in office.
Dyer beat Sam Ings and Aretha Simons with 72 percent of the vote Tuesday, on an Election Day where other mayoral seats are up for grabs in cities such as Mount Dora, Oviedo, and Lake Helen.
- Buddy Dyer wins 5th term as Orlando's mayor in landslide
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Dyer campaigned on his 16 years of steady leadership and economic growth. His two opponents, City Commissioner Sam Ings and Navy veteran Aretha Simons, blamed Dyer for a lack of affordable housing and low wages in Orlando.
"Now I’m the stabilizing force in our community," Dyer said at a watch party in downtown Orlando. "There’s been some change around us, but we continue to push things. If you think about the Dr. Phillips Center, we didn’t break ground on it till I had been mayor for 10 years. (As for) Creative Village, I’ve been working on that for 15 years. Sometimes you just need sustained energy and effort and persistence," he said.
The position requires much more than overseeing the city's $1.3 billion budget: The mayor's position also has influence at Orlando International Airport, the Central Florida Expressway Authority, Orlando Utilities Commission, and tourism council. It's one of the most powerful positions in Central Florida.
Because of low turnout at the polls, just a few votes can make a difference in off-year elections. As of Tuesday night, the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office showed turnout at 12.62 percent.
Because Ings is leaving his District 6 seat, three candidates were vying for his spot on the city council. That race will go to a runoff December 3, with Bakari Burns catching 46 percent of the vote, and Gary Siplin with 39.3 percent. A third candidate, Lawanna Gelzer, got 14.6 percent of the vote.
In Brevard County, voters in Cape Canaveral, Indialantic, Indian Harbour Beach, Melbourne Beach, Palm Bay, and Rockledge cast ballots for city council seats and charter amendments.
In Lake County, Mike Sykes became mayor of Mascotte, 59.1 percent to 40.9 percent, against Barbara Krull. Cathy Hoechst was voted mayor of Mount Dora, beating Nick Girone 58.6 percent to 41.4 percent.
In Tavares, a referendum to build a performing arts center was shot down by voters, losing 86.9 percent to 13.1 percent. The city wanted to raise bonds to pay for the $25 million venue. We took a look at the project last May.
Voters in Clermont, Minneola, and Montverde also voted on council seats and charter amendments.
And in Volusia County, Lake Helen residents chose Daisy Raisler as mayor over Vernon Burton, 68.9 percent to 31.1 percent.
In Oviedo, Megan Sladek beat two opponents to become the new mayor, beating Randy Core and Emma Reichert with 44.4 percent of the vote, or nearly 3,000 votes.
Development is a big issue in Oviedo because the city is growing fast. Sladek says managing growth responsibly and bringing down debt will be important for her while in office.
"I would really like to see us aggressively address that, go look at all of the development in town with a birds-eye view so we are not in a position to be asked to give developers exactly what they want and when they ask for it," Sladek told us Tuesday night.
We interviewed Sladek in July as she campaigned on her bike. She will take office in December — which will give her time to recover from childbirth, as she was pregnant Tuesday night and due any minute. She said she planned to give birth at home; her midwife was standing by on Election Night.