Local political activist Randy Ross launched an exploratory process to assess the feasibility of unseating Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. Ross is not an announced candidate nor has he filed to run for the Office of Mayor for the City of Orlando. His name was also rumored as a possible opponent to incumbent City Commissioner Patty Sheehan in District 4.
The next City of Orlando general election for Mayor and Commissioner Districts 2, 4 and 6 will take place on November 7, 2023.
“The Orlando I moved to in 1993 is lost and careening on a collision course of crime, vagrancy, and homeless tent cities,” Ross said. “The City has stalled and leadership is complacent and allowing the Downtown corridor to collapse around itself.”
Ross, who served as the 2016 Orange County for Trump Chairman, announced his full support for a President Donald J. Trump bid for President in 2024 in December. He has worked locally in politics for years, but mostly on the Republican side – which may be tough citywide in Democratic Orlando.
In the wake of mass shootings and gang violence alone, it’s become clear the only solution Mayor Dyer sees to address these challenges is by limiting bar and restaurant entrepreneurship and steer the Downtown corridor to a residential focus versus complete revitalization, Ross noted.
“The Creative Village and the expansion of the University of Central Florida downtown Orlando campus should have been a shot in the arm to ignite a more vibrant downtown experience. But when we watch the City leadership backing off projects under I-4 and apparently the abandonment of the Orlando Magic nighttime entertainment complex, it’s clear a new course and leadership are needed,” suggested Ross.
According to Ross, he will look at the following areas to determine the plausibility of considering a viable campaign:
-Are City of Orlando voters disappointed enough in the City’s direction to come out and vote? Recent municipal elections, especially in the City of Orlando, sadly suggest many constituents no longer have faith in the system resulting in low voter turnout.
-Assess whether citizens will respond to steps to improve safety and security of Downtown citizens and guests through increased police presence. This includes increasing the number of policemen/women from approximately 800 to 1200. A substantial increase in active patrols. The first step to increasing Downtown residents and guests experiences is preserving their safety.
-Explore how voters will respond to mitigating of any restraints/regulations to maintain or open restaurants and bars. This includes any further changes to the hours such businesses can operate.
-Research and identify Downtown property acquisitions to be repurposed for adequate and affordable attractive self parking facilities. Parking should never be a reason people don’t come Downtown.
-Launch a door-to-door conversation regarding City resident’s opinions on the maintenance or replacement of Downtown area historical brick streets.
-Explore areas on Church Street, between Camping World Stadium to Orange Avenue, allowing the development of hotel, retail and residential living connected by a state of the art above ground monorail transportation people mover/system. Making the West side of I-4 a long term opportunity for people to live, work and play. OPCOT 2030 (Orlando Prototype Community of Tomorrow)
“Buddy Dyer is not a bad person and has had some successes,” Ross said. “But he’s had decades to change and reimagine the trajectory of Downtown Orlando. Where other cities similar in size are thriving Orlando, specifically Downtown, is crashing. There’s time to save it, but it simply can’t occur under the current leadership regime. It’s truly time for a new set of eyes on the future. Unlike many, I do not fear Dyer.”
Ross, a consultant who lives in Downtown Orlando with his Goldendoodle and serves as a longterm caregiver for his mother, has held a variety of roles on multiple community boards, has led charges to raise money and awareness for Title 1 Schools (receiving multiple community service awards for health and human services from Walt Disney World), AIDS Walk, Domestic Abuse along with a passion for improving Senior living/wellness/rehabilitation environments.
No current opponent to Mayor Dyer has raised any significant amount of money or launched any significant campaign effort so far.