Winter Park swears in councilors, keeps mayor
The Winter Park Town Council officially swore in newly elected councilmember Art Ferrari, along with returning councilors, at their regular meeting Tuesday morning. The council also elected to retain Jimmy Lahrman as mayor, a process that included publically dissecting a number of issues within the town and council.
The first order of business was for the newly elected members of the council to swear their oath to office. Art Ferrari is the only new member of the board, winning a four-year term after receiving a town high of 130 votes in the election earlier this month. Nick Kutrumbos, Chris Seemann and Chuck Banks were all elected to return to the council. Seemann was absent at the meeting, but participated over the phone.
The mayoral election was a more intense discussion. Mayor Lahrman and Kutrumbos both announced their desire to take the position, and the council discussed internal issues at length.
Among topics of conversation were a lack of internal communication, an ongoing inability to work with the town of Fraser and poorly defined responsibilities among staff. Several council members voiced that internal communication was a problem, with some councilors being uninformed of issues and projects, while others are in better positions to be in the loop. Some complained about individual meetings between councilors and developers, and whether or not more formal processes were being ignored.
The discussion quickly turned toward the perceived responsibilities of the mayor and council members. Some councilors believe the mayor has taken on some responsibilities better left for town staff, and noted that the responsibilities of town staff and elected officials are sometimes ill defined.
While blame landed in several corners, including Fraser’s, the council also agreed that the town’s relationship with Fraser needs repair. Seemann was the most vocal about the town’s difficulties working with the Fraser Board of Trustees over the last couple of years, noting that he had even been approached by unnamed Fraser Trustees to set up a meeting without mayors to avoid a potential personality clash that may have been holding the two towns back on important transit and housing collaborations.
Several potential solutions were discussed in regards to each issue. Interim Town Manager Stan Zemler suggested standing meetings with the town manager in order to keep councilors up to date on projects, and also pushed for a joint meeting with Fraser to work out some issues. The two towns are expected to meet sometime next week to discuss housing issues.
Ultimately, Lahrman and Kutrumbos received nominations from their fellow council members, and Lahrman was elected 5-2, with Kutrumbos and Seemann being the dissenting votes. Kutrumbos was unanimously selected as mayor pro tem. Georgia Noriyuki was also reappointed as municipal court judge.
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