Katrina Shadix is a 54-year-old Democratic candidate for Seminole County Commissioner District 2 who lives in Geneva. Shadix is the executive director of Bear Warriors United, which works to support bears and their natural habitats, establish bear refuges, and reduce negative bear-human interactions by educating on how to secure trash and remove bear attractants. Shadix is also the director for the Foundation for Florida Environmental Protection, which strives to protect Florida’s water, land and wildlife.
Shadix is a passionate defender of animals and the local environment. Shadix’s campaign has raised a total of $11,700 in contributions which are from individual residents of Florida with most coming from Sanford and Longwood residents . Shadix has spent a total of $8,485 on campaign expenditures. Learn more.
Jay Zembower is a Republican candidate for Seminole County Commissioner District 2 who lives in Winter Springs. Zembower is the owner and operator of Zembower’s Auto Center in Altamonte Springs and a transportation forensic expert in state and federal courts. As the incumbent Seminole County Commissioner, Zembower funded the sheriff’s office, worked to create jobs and to keep property millage tax rates low.
In Zembower’s campaign, some of his focuses are protecting the rural boundary, supporting police officers, and pushing for no vaccine mandates. Zembower has raised a total of $319,920 in campaign contributions, most of which are self-raised or from Florida businesses and residents. Zembower has spent a total of $229,000 in campaign expenditures. Learn more.
The questions below were either directly submitted by voters or were created by OCN based on what the voters told us were their priorities.
Q: Explain your participation in local government. For example, have you ever volunteered for a local municipal board? Do you regularly attend county commission meetings? For incumbents, did you regularly attend county commission meetings before you were elected?
Jay Zembower: Prior to being an elected official I was a member of the following boards: the Seminole County Affordable Housing Advisory Board, the Seminole County School Advisory Board, the Seminole County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, the Altamonte Springs Incident Review Board, the Seminole County Planning and Zoning Board.
Katrina Shadix: Yes, I’ve attended county and city commission meetings consistently since 2015.
Do you think a candidate can be involved in developing land, selling real estate, etc. and lead the community without being tainted?
Jay Zembower: A Realtor, property owner, developer in my opinion can lead the community. The sunshine law is paramount in ensuring transparency. Likewise, one’s own personal ethics is important to help guide one’s actions. Government attorneys are also important to ensure elected officials abide by the regulations.
Katrina Shadix: No, and 25 years of bad growth decisions by elected officials have proven that. Look around at what a mess they have created with self-serving deals, greed and lack of foresight.
How do you plan to improve communication with your constituents so more residents can get involved in the local decision-making process?
Jay Zembower: It is my goal and has been my continued efforts to push for citizen engagement technologies at the county level. Websites are often not user-friendly. Making this a priority is one that we continue to push for and fund.
Katrina Shadix: On my website, I list many things to improve communication with citizens: 1. Require commissioners to visit lands that developers want rezoned before commissioners vote on the re-zone. (Currently, no visits are required nor conducted). 2. Required commissioners to go door-to-door, speaking with residents that will be negatively impacted by new sprawl development/apartments in the vicinity.
What do you offer to the position you’re vying for that you believe others do not?
Jay Zembower: I am a businessman, a father, a husband and a grandfather. I’m a native to Florida and have been a resident of Seminole County for over 40 years. I have years of experience in running businesses, 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 organizations. A great depth of experience on government advisory boards.
Katrina Shadix: I refuse developer money. I’ve successfully led public opposition to RiverCross, Geneva Ski Lake and currently the Yarborough sprawl development. I was born and raised in the rural boundary and I am dedicated to protecting the quality of life within the rural boundary ’til my dying day.
What are you going to do about the terrible driving habits of other people? How are you going to enforce safer driving?
Jay Zembower: The enforcement aspect is really the role of law enforcement. The national and state road design guidelines fail to consider distracted driving. This is the number one cause of poor traffic flows. Likewise, the legislature needs to take a stronger stance on cell phone use and distracted driving.
Katrina Shadix: As a private citizen or county commissioner, I cannot control the terrible driving habits of others. Nor can I enforce safer driving (that’s law enforcement’s job). However, I can continue to ask (beg) county and state agencies to increase police presence and to install more traffic safety devices and wildlife under/overpasses.
Q: How do you plan to handle current and future traffic congestion?
Jay Zembower: Using and funding smart traffic control technology, as the community grows, we must continue to focus on multimodal options to move more people instead of more cars. Recently we have updated impact fees, which will allow additional funding by developers for infrastructure improvements, likewise ensuring growth occurs only where infrastructure exists.
Katrina Shadix: Enact a moratorium of rezoning and building more sprawl developments and environmentally destructive apartments until the cities and counties work together to repair the damage and fix the traffic problems they created in the last 25 years by approving rezones, up zones and sprawl development without having the proper infrastructure in place.
Have you studied the impact of overgrowth on government services and how expansion will affect property values in the future?
Jay Zembower: Yes, I have. Impact fees will assist with the impacts to our schools and infrastructure, however the majority of the growth will be occurring within the seven cities that have the infrastructure to handle the growth, as well they have the services to handle the same.
Katrina Shadix: Yes, extensively, thanks to my mentor/attorney for my non-profit organization Bear Warriors United, Lesley Blackner. She is an expert on the damage overgrowth causes. She was also successful in getting HomeTown Democracy on the state ballot in 2010, which would have given citizens the right to essentially veto a bad land-use decision made by commissioners.
How do you plan to deal with any issues caused by displaced wildlife due to increasing growth and development?
Jay Zembower: The state dictates wildlife impacts by statute. We continue to follow state and federal regulations. We have a vast amount of natural lands and state-owned lands as well as parks and trails in Seminole County that have a wide array of wildlife.
Katrina Shadix: This issue is near and dear to my heart. As executive director of a non-profit that fights to protect wildlife and their habitat, my job and career involves dealing with these unforgivable crimes against nature every day. One of my plans is to vote no to any and all developer rezone/upzone requests that destroy wildlife habitat and green space.
How do you plan to fix and pay for future water problems?
Jay Zembower: I will continue to work for state and federal assistance for Lake Jesup cleanup. I continue to advocate for Florida-friendly landscaping to preserve water resources. We passed a fertilizer ordinance, which restricts fertilizer use, and a lake and stream shoreline ordinance to prevent disturbing soils too close to waterways.
Katrina Shadix: First of all is getting the county and cities to admit that we have water problems and are experiencing several water crises. To stop approving rezones and up-zones and allowing forests and wetlands to be destroyed for sprawl development and apartments is a great and desperately necessary place to start.
As we see growing evidence of climate change, what are your specific plans for sustainability in our communities and county?
Jay Zembower: Climates are cyclical in nature, are always in flux with many conditions, which impact the same. The county continues to embrace green building assets such as LEED and green building codes. As we review and update building codes, land-use policies, as well as embrace emerging technologies, we will continue to leverage technology for sustainability and resiliency.
Katrina Shadix: The most recent evidence: Hurricane Ian. Historically extreme weather events colliding with historical amounts of development and impervious surfaces (rooftops, roads, sidewalks, driveways) proved to be a catastrophic recipe for disaster. Seminole County needs to catch up with other counties and cities around the state that have implemented sustainability and climate resiliency departments.
How do you plan to protect local remaining green spaces?
Jay Zembower: I supported recently purchasing two golf courses to preserve green space for future generations. We have ensured all county-owned natural lands will be preserved forever. The revised land development code will have additional aspects to preserve more green space. Each of the seven cities will be charged with their own rule-making.
Katrina Shadix: Implement a land conservation program to buy and perpetually preserve our last remaining green spaces. Vote no to any up-zone or rezone developer requests of green spaces.
What will you do to quell public safety concerns at a time like this?
Jay Zembower: We already have a very safe community and a great sheriff’s department and sheriff. The seven cities collaborate with our sheriff, school board and county commission in ensuring public safety is paramount. I will and have always funded our law enforcement men and women as well as our first responders.
Katrina Shadix: First , I have to ask what the public safety concerns are for Seminole County. Starting by fully funding our Seminole County Sheriff Department is a great start to ensuring public safety.
How do you plan to recruit more business to build a better tax base?
Jay Zembower: By maintaining one of the lowest tax rates in the region, ensuring we have some of the best schools, safe communities and business-friendly regulations, we will continue to ensure we maintain a good balance of tax base. We have a great commercial-to-residential balance in the unincorporated portion of the county.
Katrina Shadix: Create and support new local economies that enable eco-responsible capitalism: Making lots of money by doing the right thing for our environment.
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