Former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings holds her campaign kickoff today at Lake Eola. Before discussing why she would like to be Mayor of Orange County with the public, she sat down with FOX 35's Mike Synan to talk about some of the central issues of her campaign.
On why she is running for Mayor: "Orange County is my home. I got married here. I raised my 3 sons here. I love this community and care about this community. I think that some good things have happened in this County, but I think we have the potential for so much more. I think about public safety. Public safety is the foundation on which great communities are built. Our fire and our corrections, I don't think people think a lot about those. I think education should be a priority. If we are really going to build a workforce that can compete anywhere in the world, public education needs the support from this community."
On Mayor Teresa Jacobs questioning her lack of experience: "I thought that comment was pretty strange. I spent 27 years at the Orlando Police Department working in local government, worked my way through the ranks to have the honor of being appointed Chief of Police. I believe that I have a proven track record of what it takes to be a strong leader. Managed the largest police department in the region with a multimillion dollar budget, and all of the complexities. Sometimes, some days even more than a large business organization. When I was appointed Chief, it was during 3 of the toughest years in terms of budget within the city limits of Orlando, but we were still able to pool our resources together, work with this community, involve residents and business owners with our efforts. We were still able to reduce violent crime by 40 percent. I have a proven track record of leadership, and I am running on my record."
On whether she would have voted to bring MLS soccer to Orlando: "I'm excited about the soccer deal. I certainly think it's good for Orlando and Orange County. I'm certainly proud of Mayor Buddy Dyer and the citizens that stepped up to make that happen."
On whether she would be willing to bail out the Performing Arts Center with tourist taxes if needed: "I fully understand that tourism is the economic engine that drives our economy. If our tourism industry is doing well, Orange County is doing well. I will sit down with the leaders in the tourism industry and talk about how we protect them, but still be able to support some of the projects that might be on the table."
On what Mayor Jacobs has not done well: "I was encouraged when she ran, and some of the statements she made about things that were important to her, but I do believe the current administration has fallen short on some of the promises that were made in terms of ethics reform, in terms of accessibility, in terms of citizen participation, greater citizen participation in the government process."