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After three tight races in Winter Springs concluded on Tuesday night, the city will swear in two new commissioners and an incumbent mayor at Monday night’s meeting.
Incumbent Kevin McCann won the mayor seat with 44% of the votes, beating Mark Caruso’s 41%. Candidate Brandon Morrisey had 15% of the votes.
“That entire city commission truly was focused on the residents first and they did a great deal of work to protect and serve the residents,” McCann said. “We will continue to fight apartments and the type of development that our residents don’t want to see.”
Victoria Colangelo earned 53% of votes, outpacing incumbent Kevin Cannon’s 47% in the District 2 race. She said she’s excited for the opportunity to prove herself to those who didn’t vote for her.
“A lot of people said I didn’t have a lot of participation in government, and they’re right, but I have a lot of experience being on boards and fixing issues with leadership and turning things around,” she said. “And I want to show them that I am environmentally conscious. There’s a lot of misunderstanding that I’m with the developers and nothing can be further from the truth.”
The margin between incumbent TiAnna Hale and Cade Resnick for the District 4 seat was razor thin, with Resnick winning 51% of the votes. Resnick served on the Winter Springs City Commission from 2010-2018 and did not run in the 2018 election when Hale won.
Find results from each race on the Seminole County ballot
Resnick said voters can expect him to follow through on the promises he made during his campaign, which include working toward better-quality drinking water for residents.
“First things first, water will be on my list from start to finish,” Resnick said during an interview on Wednesday. “I have spoken with Mayor McCann. He and I talked last night and I reiterated that to him and he said yes, we will talk about it.”
Issues brought to the surface by Hurricane Ian
Colangelo said she thinks city issues resulting from Hurricane Ian, such as the flooded wastewater lift stations that caused sewage to pour into homes and the flooding of Gee Creek, helped propel her campaign.
“Hurricane Ian showed a lot of holes,” she said. “Now I have assured [voters] that I will help them because I do feel like it was negligence on the part of the city. They needed to get more generators. Gee Creek could have been dredged to prevent flooding.”
Colangelo said she thinks there needs to be a “full sweep” of city hall staff to ensure that the right people are in the right positions. She also said she’d like to evaluate which outsourced city services can be brought in-house to save money.
McCann said that the city must work to find better solutions to the issues that arose after Hurricane Ian dumped 15 inches of rain on the area in 24 hours, including finding new technology to help when the city’s lift stations are flooded.
“We know, geographically, that water must pass through Winter Springs to get to Lake Jessup. What will we do with all of that rainwater? We’ve got to figure out a way to control mother nature,” he said.
The candidates agreed that development and water issues are at the forefront of their constituents’ minds. They all agreed that drinking water quality standards should be higher in the city.
“I understand there might not be a risk, but I want to be sure we’re as good or better than any other city in the state,” Colangelo said. “We’re right at the threshold and I don’t like that.”
Resnick said he wants to ask the Department of Environmental Protection to do a full investigation into the drinking and reclaimed water systems to check for any hazards.
McCann added that the city must find a way to use less drinking water as well. Otherwise, water is going to cost a lot more money in the future.
Stance on development
McCann said the new commission “will continue to fight apartments and the type of development that our residents don’t want to see.”
Resnick said that there should be a moratorium on all types of development until the city’s infrastructure is in better shape, which could be years from now.
“There’s no point in putting in a new shopping plaza if the roads are broken down,” he said.
Colangelo said there are only a few undeveloped parcels within the city and the development of that land should be highly scrutinized to ensure that flooding is not an issue and that the resulting project is aesthetically pleasing. She also said that she wants to change the standard for saving trees when new development takes root.
“I want to be sure that more of those majestic oaks are saved. That’s a precious resource. The standards could have been higher,” she said.
Let’s all get along
After what candidates called a contentious election cycle, McCann said it’s his job to ensure that the temperature of discussion stays low on the commission, and in the community, so that progress can be made.
“We have really important work ahead of us. We’ve got to work together. This wastewater treatment plant is by far the biggest project the city has ever taken on,” he said of the new system the city is planning for.
“We can make our points without infighting. We can agree to disagree. The commission has always been respectful. That needs to happen on the commission and out into the community. We need to keep that civility,” he said.
Resnick said he’s hopeful that communication will improve on the commission.
“I am hopeful it’s not an uphill battle,” Resnick said. “When this all started, it started because the city was not listening. I think that as this campaign went on, time kind of showed us with the hurricane and with all the other realities of what has happened … it’s going to be a lot easier to walk in and say this has to be fixed.”