Winter Springs mayor race

Candidate information

Mark Caruso

Mark Caruso is a Winter Springs resident running for the City of Winter Springs Mayor. Caruso is a retired Sergeant from the Florida Department of Corrections and Police Benevolent Association Representative who fought for stronger protection and pay increases for officers. Caruso grew up in New York and served in the New York Police Department.

Caruso’s campaign focuses on lowering crime in Winter Springs, consulting state and local experts to give Winter Springs residents safe and quality drinking water, and restoring public trust by ensuring that all residents’ concerns are heard. Caruso has raised a total of $4,896 in campaign contributions, coming from businesses and political committees in Florida. He has spent $4,458 on campaign expenditures. Learn more.

Kevin McCann

Kevin McCann is a 58-year-old Winter Springs resident and incumbent for the Mayor of Winter Springs. McCann has served as chairman of Seminole County Mayors and Managers, Board of Directors for the Oviedo/Winter Springs Chamber of Commerce, and Vice Chairman of the City of Winter Springs Planning and Zoning Board.

In McCann’s campaign he wants to guide decisions on land use and community expenditures. He wants to continue promoting logical and desirable growth such as medical facilities, grocery store options and restaurants and storefront businesses. He has raised $7,850 in campaign contributions, most of which come from individual Florida residents. His campaign expenditures total $4,764.56. Learn more.

Brandon Morrisey

Brandon Morrisey is a 24-year-old Winter Springs resident running for the City of Winter Springs Mayor. He currently works as a realtor sales associate at Starbay Realty. In 2015, Morrisey was appointed to the Future Ready Schools task force.

Morrisey’s campaign includes areas of focus such as tackling local water issues and focusing on community wellness. He has raised $2,050 in campaign contributions, all of which was self contributed. His campaign expenditures total $1,739. Learn more.

Candidate Q&A

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 Winter Springs City Commission meetings? For incumbents, did you regularly attend City Commission meetings before you were elected?

Mark Caruso: I attend Winter Springs meetings.

Brandon Morrisey: I choose to listen to the Winter Springs City Commission meetings online, through the city’s website. I attend in person when the agenda deems necessary. I am a young candidate and I may be an infant when it comes to politics, but I was born and raised in Winter Springs and have lived here my entire life.

Kevin McCann: I have consistently attended (Winter Springs City) Commission meetings for many years. Prior to becoming mayor, I also served as vice chair of the (Winter Springs) planning & zoning board, a member of the Tuscawilla Lighting & Beautification District taxing board, president of the Tuscawilla HomeOwners Association and much more.

Q: Do you think a candidate can be involved in developing land, selling real estate, etc. and lead the community without being tainted?

Mark Caruso: Yes, absolutely, as long as you have integrity.

Brandon Morrisey: Yes. If someone practices in residential real estate they have nothing to do with commercial, if someone practices commercial real estate they aren’t involved with development. Having a licensed individual on the board can bring some truth to the community and elevate our level of ethics.

Kevin McCann: Although perfectly legal and common in other communities, it has been my observation that developers or real estate agents tend to be pro-growth. As elected officials, they make decisions accordingly. Winter Springs is clearly not pro-growth. We want residents without bias making decisions regarding our future.

Q: How do you plan to improve communication with your constituents so more residents can get involved in the local decision making process?

Mark Caruso: Turn on comments for social media and live stream (Winter Springs) City Hall meetings.

Brandon Morrisey: I will have regularly scheduled office hours for anyone to come and meet with your mayor at City Hall. Appointments will be appreciated but walk-ins will be welcomed with open arms. I aim to open the comment section on our Facebook page and open a direct chat messenger on the city website.

Kevin McCann: The City Commission is always seeking new ways to communicate more efficiently and to include residents in the decision-making process. We have moved Commission meeting times from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and use other technology tools such as social media to provide information efficiently.

Q: What do you offer to the position you’re vying for that you believe others do not?

Mark Caruso: I have a proven track record of holding state leadership accountable, by exposing and reporting corruption.

Brandon Morrisey: Integrity, respectability, responsibility, and communication with constituents. The keys to any successful Mayor, every single voice matters.

Kevin McCann: Temperament, experience and a thorough understanding of the issues facing our city. Of the three candidates for Mayor, I alone have long standing relationships with our City Staff, City Commission and officials at all levels of local, county and state government.

Q: How do you plan to handle current and future traffic congestion?

Mark Caruso: Work on our infrastructure first and not put the residents’ concerns last.

Brandon Morrisey: I feel three seconds longer on every light cycle would make a tremendous difference. Let’s face it traffic signals and Department of Transportation timing with how our city grows is out of date within 12 months. There should be a better schedule on timing checks.

Kevin McCann: Controlled, thoughtful growth without further high-density apartments. We must also continue to develop creative solutions to discourage drivers from using our neighborhoods as “cut-through” roads between Oviedo, Longwood, Casselberry and other areas.

Q: What are you going to do about the terrible driving habits of other people? How are you going to enforce safer driving?

Mark Caruso: Make sure we don’t lose more police chiefs, and make sure our police staffing is full. I have other ideas for this issue because I am retired law enforcement.

Brandon Morrisey: Florida law states any street without a posted speed limit sign is 30 mph. I feel our city does not exercise this right by posting additional signs in neighborhoods requiring 20-25 mile speed limits.

Kevin McCann: We have been working closely with our police department and transportation consultants to study, fund and implement new ideas to calm drivers. These projects include: electronic signs, speed bumps and the re-design of several roadways. We will continue to seek out innovative ideas to keep our residents safe.

Q: How do you plan to deal with any issues caused by displaced wildlife due to increasing growth and development?

Mark Caruso: I’m learning about development, and one of the first things we need to protect is our trees and wildlife.

Brandon Morrisey: Federal and state law protects a lot of our wildlife from displacement due to poor development. I will strongly oppose anything that comes across my plate harming our wild friends. This beautiful resource of our area where we’re so close to the city but have an abundance of wildlife should be protected for generations to come.

Kevin McCann: We will continue working with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to preserve and protect our wildlife. The City Commission has strengthened our ordinances and we will continue to take steps to protect our wildlife as development pressure continues here in Winter Springs.

Q: Have you studied the impact of overgrowth on government services and how expansion will affect property values in the future?

Mark Caruso: I have not

Brandon Morrisey: Yes we are experiencing it right now. Winter Springs is 92% residential and we only have 152 municipality vehicles split between five departments. This doesn’t leave much room for heavy equipment which our city is light on. Any delay in a city’s response after a catastrophe directly affects property value.

Kevin McCann: Yes. We all understand the negative impact overgrowth could have on our schools, traffic, crime rates and quality of life. It is imperative that we take steps now to not only protect our property values but, more importantly, protect our community for generations to come.

Q: How do you plan to protect local remaining green spaces?

Mark Caruso: I want to try and have developers give back more to the environment when they want to remove anything involving the environment, i.e plant more trees, provide nicer aesthetics to developments

Brandon Morrisey: I feel no green space owned by any municipality, state or county should ever be used. Any privately held green space could be purchased by the city and put in a trust to never be developed.

Kevin McCann: We have strengthened our tree ordinances and purchased additional park land all in an effort to protect our brand of “Tree City USA”. We understand that we cannot stop all growth, however we can ensure that it does not destroy or detract from our beautiful community.

Q: How do you plan to fix and pay for future water problems?

Mark Caruso: First is to fire Veolia, and work with county and state officials to rebuild our water infrastructure.

Brandon Morrisey: If allowed, a staged attack on the problem would be best financially. If upkeep and maintenance was not done for a long period of time this would put us in an immediate pay-for-all situation. At that point, I would suggest a consumption scale to determine constituents’ water bills.

Kevin McCann: The largest water infrastructure issues our city faces are in regard to the rebuilding of our wastewater plants and expanding our reclaimed water systems for the delivery of irrigation water to our homes. The majority of funding will come from reserves, federal American Rescue Plan Act grants and low-interest state revolving funds.

Q: As we see growing evidence of climate change, what are your specific plans for sustainability in our communities?

Mark Caruso: Hold developers accountable to keep planting trees when they remove them.

Brandon Morrisey: Our city is blessed with many trees and so far the keepers of those trees have stood strong. I will continue to carry this torch; I also feel that proper upkeep and maintenance of our existing valuable trees to ensure longevity and optimum habitat to ensure their strong growth should be a priority and this will be a priority of mine.

Kevin McCann: Hurricane Ian and the frequency of flooding in our community has clarified the importance of this issue. The City Commission moved forward with taking steps to update storm water standards during the Oct. 10 Commission meeting. All new development should meet a higher standards and our stormwater infrastructure must be improved.

Q: What will you do to quell public safety concerns at a time like this?

Mark Caruso: Make sure our police force is fully staffed, have the equipment they need, and make sure each area in Winter Springs has the proper amount of officers patrolling there.

Brandon Morrisey: I would contact our chief of police and request that we do a community meeting. Sometimes taking the government to the people makes the people feel safer than if the people have to chase the government. I would also rely on strong local community leaders to assist me in this task.

Kevin McCann: Thanks to our outstanding police department, our police chief has announced a year to date 12% drop in crime. We must educate our residents of the “crimes of opportunity” such as not leaving keys in cars and locking car doors. Continued support and funding of our police department is paramount.

Q: How do you plan to recruit more business and commercial to build a better tax base?

Mark Caruso: Allow food trucks for businesses who need more foot traffic. Also, I’d like to have a farmers market in Winter Springs. Encourage more entertainment businesses to move to Winter Springs.

Brandon Morrisey: Winter Springs, again, as I’ve spoken, is 92% residential. Even more of that percentage is already developed. This is where listening to the constituents and looking for companies, corporations or franchisees that meet the needs of the constituents and the image we want for our city plays a crucial role.

Kevin McCann: We may all like more restaurants, however I do not believe the long-term financial health of our community requires further commercial development. Our parks for example, do not pay property taxes, however we understand that healthy parks raise property values resulting in a net gain in revenue.

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