OCN asked Oviedo City Council candidates to name their top community issue. Here’s what they said:
Oviedo Mayor candidates
Candidate Kevin Hipes said bringing big employers, offering high-paying jobs, into the area is most important in the community.
“We need jobs to create a bigger tax base to take the burden off the residents,” he said.
Hipes, who’s Oviedo Mall’s development director and owns a restaurant inside the mall, is advocating that those larger employers locate within the mall to limit traffic impact. He added that he’d recuse himself from any votes involving the mall but that he’d be working to bring those employers to the city’s table.
“It’s the right thing to do, to put the density there,” he said. “Whatever’s good for the mall is good for the city.”
Candidate Abraham Lopez said growth is the biggest issue in Oviedo.
“Development is definitely really important. Families are really concerned about the growth and traffic and a lot of us want to stay plugged into what’s coming, what’s happening and can we influence the process?” he said.
“I moved to Oviedo for a specific reason. I love the small-charm character of our community. I love the history. I love open spaces and green spaces and parks. So that’s what attracted me and my family here. We want to preserve the beauty that is the city of Oviedo. So I think there’s this genuine hunger for information on anything to do with development, traffic and growth, unmitigated or uncontrolled growth.”
Incumbent Megan Sladek said traffic is the most important issue, offering that bringing jobs to Oviedo would reduce residents’ commutes, which would reduce traffic.
“The reason people care so much about growth and economic development is because they hate traffic. Traffic really, at the end of the day seems to be the main thing people are concerned about. If you only leave [Oviedo] for pleasure then you’re never sad and you’re never stuck in traffic.”
Sladek said people can have a say in traffic issues by getting involved in changes to the city’s comprehensive plan. For more information, visit https://www.cityofoviedo.net/884/Comprehensive-Plan-Update
Oviedo City Council Group 1 candidates
Incumbent Judith Dolores Smith said keeping the area’s small-town feel, despite the growing population, is most important.
“Get involved in the community, know what’s happening. Love it. Know the history. If you know the history, then maybe you feel that you are a part of it and you become part of it,” she said.
Council hopeful Natalie Teuchert said she thinks uncontrolled growth is the most important community issue.
“There’s a reason everyone wants to live here,” she said. “You have an awesome community, great education and, you know, the roads don’t create dust clouds anymore, but we still have that small-town feel and we have to keep that. With UCF right down the street, I really don’t see the demand slowing down for this growth. So we’ve got to be able to make sure that if we’re approving things, we get the infrastructure to keep up with it.”
Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 2. For a full list of candidates running for Oviedo City Council, visit http://www.voteseminole.org/current-candidates.