Politics is a balancing act and Mayor Buddy Dyer is an expert and master. In many political circles in Orlando, there are many questions concerning his political affiliation as a Democrat. There are people who worship Buddy as a hero and others who dislike him and label him as being a crook. But, in the last election, the mayor won his office by 63% which was the largest margin of victory in his career.
Buddy has been the mayor for 13 years, and has transformed the dying downtown city area to a vibrant hot spot with something to do for everyone. “The true strength of the city is its people – and through a community of collaboration and partnership, we worked together for the benefit of all” said Mayor Dyer at his victory speech.
Only 15% of the registered voters in the city voted in the election last week, and many residents don’t approve of Buddy’s tactics and his grip on every aspect of the city. Some call their mayor a tyrant and no one in the city can challenge or change his plans. But based on his record of achievement, Buddy has made the city a mecca for entertainment, sports, art, medicine, and technology.
The recession in 2007 and 2008 did not stop Mayor Dyer from bringing his shared vision to fruition. In 2003, Buddy talked about building a performing arts center, building a new sports arena, renovating the Citrus Bowl and creating a rail system for the city. It is now twelve years later and all of the projects have been started and many of them completed.
In the last election, Buddy was outspent by his opponent, Paul Paulson by $400,000 to $500,000. Paulson entered the race the week of qualifying, and everyone knew he faced an uphill climb. But in October, Buddy spent over $250,000, and that push helped ensure his victory.
As Buddy settles in his office for another four years, the job does not get any easier. Crime is down in the city, but there is a need for better police community relationships, and less police brutality incidents. There are wonderful communities to raise a family in Orlando, but there are also communities that you would not feel safe in.
Without a doubt, there are more Blacks in positions of authority in Orlando than most cities in the country. Under Mayor Dyer the city embraces diversity, fairness, equality, and his Blueprint initiative has brought $177 million in venue contracts to minority and women businesses. This Blueprint initiative is a national model which makes Orlando a leader in job and business creation for minorities in the United States.
There will always be critics claiming that they have a better idea or they treat the residents better than the mayor in office. But Orlando is moving forward and there is so much to be proud of. The right man was chosen for the job, which I may not always agree with, but he is still one of my heroes.