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Issues and Voices that Matter October 8, 2009

Voting Smart in Longwood


On November 3rd Longwood voters will go to the polls to select two city commissioners to serve for the next three years. In these interviews the 4 candidates discuss their experience and personal character and their positions on the tight budgets caused by declining revenues and the task of providing crucial public services. Voting smart means knowing the candidates before casting a ballot, listen here to the four men who want your vote. Feature length – 29:40

(Produced, reported and edited by Desta Horner)

Voter turnout in the Longwood city elections on November 3 is expected by the Supervisor of Elections to be 10 to 12% of registered voters. If you are one of that small but important group of voters, you want to cast a smart vote. The following interviews with each of the four candidates from Longwood will make voting smart easier.

The city commissioners are elected at-large for a 3 year term. The winning candidates in this election will become part of a five member city commission that monitors a $26 million dollar budget used to provide services from public safety to playgrounds. They will receive a annual salary of $4800 for representing Longwood’s 14,000 residents.

Each interview was conducted at the candidate’s home and lasted for 18 minutes. They all covered the same general topics. Each interview was then condensed to 6 minutes but the entire interview can also be heard at this web site by clicking on the extended interview for each candidate.

The candidates are heard in the order their name appears on the ballot. For the district 3 seat, the candidates are Bob Cortes and Mike Holt. The candidates for district 5 are John Richardson and Brian Sackett.

Extended Interviews

Bob CortesCortes’s Website
Email Cortes

Bob Cortes is 46 years old, and has been married for 25 years to his wife Virginia, they had 3 children . They moved from Puerto Rico in search of better health care for their eldest son Robert Jr. who died of Cerebral Palsy. Twelve years ago they came to Longwood where Bob is the proud owner of Cortes Towing Service. Bob Cortes extended interview length – 18:19

Mike HoltHolt’s Website
Email Holt

After 6 years on the commission, Mike Holt is seeking re-election. Mike is 53 years old has lived in Longwood for 20 years. He and his wife Pam have 3 daughters and a dog who believes he is key to the family. Mike works in the security division of Macy’s. Mike Holt extended interview length – 18:11

John RichardsonRichardson’s Website
Email Richardson

John Richardson retired as a Lt. Col after 33 years in the army. He and his wife Elise moved to Longwood in 1991 where he worked as a security specialist at Lockheed Martin. They raised 3 sons one of whom was killed in an automobile accident. At 66 Mr. Richardson is battling for a seat on the city commission. John Richardson extended interview length – 13:50

Brian SackettSackett’s Website
Email Sackett

Are you smarter than a 5th grader? Brian Sackett has spent 31 years making sure the 5 grade students who leave his classroom will always win the game. Brian and his wife Mary, a two time cancer survivor, have lived in Longwood for 20 years. They have 3 daughters. He hopes to continue as commissioner for District 5. Brian Sackett extended interview length – 20:10

Additional Feature Information

12 Responses to “Voting Smart in Longwood”

  1. I am asking that Mr. Richardson retract his statement on this audio in regard to the city’s fire and police departments. I have never stated that I favor consolidation of these departments with the county. My speeches and actions particulary as chair of the Mayors and Managers group and as a member of the past Joint Committee of Cities and County are documented and state the exact opposite. I continue to support a strong safety presence in our city maintained by our police and firefighters.

  2. Mr. Sackett, I to want to also set the record straight and will retract only the portion on the audio that refers to the Longwood Police Department. However,I will not retract the portion that refers to the Longwood Fire Department. Mr. Sackett, you stated in front of three city employees whose names I will not publish here for fear of retribution that you wanted to see the Longwood Fire Department gone. Mr. Sackett, the comment made by you could only mean that you wanted to get rid of the Longwood Fire Department. If this was the case then the Longwood Fire Department would have to be consolidated into Seminole County’s Fire Department.

  3. Mr. Sackett, you need personally explain your actions to the taxpayers of the City of Longwood for your misuse of city funds to purchase 20 smoke detectors you used to promote your bid for re-election. You, Mr. Sackett, directed the City Administrator to purchase these 20 smoke detectors knowing quite well that these smoke detectors were not in the 2010 city budget. They were removed as a cost saving measure from the budget that you voted No on. You removed these 20 smoke detectors from city property and took them to a community function held at “The Landings” sub-division and then gave them out to residents who had requested them. Mr. Sackett, your political sign with your name on it “Re-Elect Brian Sackett” promimately displayed at this function also stated that the smoke detectors were being furnished by Brian Sackett. Nowhere on your political sign was the City of Longwood even mentioned. On Monday, 5 October 2009 at the regular commission meeting, you made an attempt to pay for these smoke detectors and you wrote a check to cover the cost for the detectors.
    Mr. Sackett, this was after the fact and clearly demonstrated to the taxpayers your poor judgment and also brings into question your integrity as a sitting Commissioner. Your motive was very clear to all in attendance that your intentions were to gain additional political support for your campaign and win additional votes. Mr. Sackett, you owe every citizen in the City of Longwood an apology for your conduct in this matter.

  4. Alan Westfall says:

    Some facts have been twisted, Commissioner Sacket did not purchase the smoke detectors. Longwood city administrator Katrina Powell purchased them and then told Commissioner Sackett where he could pick them up. Commissioner Sackett attempted to pay for them a number of times prior to in addition to at the meeting.Ms.Powell for some reason “chose” to take it to the commission. Also the point has been made that the smoke detector program had been discontinued for some time, why then is it still listed on the city’s website? Residents still think that it is a valid program.If you would have attended the commission meeting you would have known this. I encourage all to download the meeting audio to hear the truth for yourselves.

  5. Darryl Richardson says:

    Let the Longwood Residents read the minutes for themselves…

    Mr. Westfall, you cannot pay for something after you were caught taking it..

  6. Darryl Richardson says:

    Section 10, 2nd paragraph…. in the minutes PDF.

  7. Darryl Richardson says:

    10-5-2009 – Minutes file.

  8. Darryl Richardson says:

    Ms. Powell reported she needed to do a budget transfer this past week for a request from a Commissioner whom she was told also came in today to pay this. She said in the interim she needed to do a budget transfer in the amount of $159.80 for the purchase of smoke detectors for The Landings community event. She stated she was bringing this forward for the Commission to approve because it was from another Commissioner.

    Commissioner Sackett said this was the first time he had heard the total amount of $159.80. He stated he has offered three (3) times to pay for these.

    Commissioner Holt said a woman from The Landings spoke and said these were donated. He asked for an explanation.

    Ms. Powell said Commissioner Sackett asked her for some smoke detectors and unfortunately everything had been cut out of the Community Relations line in the Budget. She stated that apparently three (3) weeks ago the City was approached for the smoke detectors and was told that we did not have the funds available. She was not aware that conversation had taken place. She said Commissioner Sackett asked her for the smoke detectors and she purchased them. She stated they were doing a budget transfer to cover the cost.

    Commissioner Sackett explained that three (3) weeks ago Mrs. Marie Adamour asked for twenty (20) smoke detectors and explained what they were for. He said when he spoke to Ms. Powell he was told that mission essential was what was available in September and she could look at it in October. He did not know the word budget transfer was in there and when he heard that on Friday, he electronically mailed back that he would cut the check and his family would personally donate these. He affirmed he was still willing to pay the $159.80 and had planned on paying for these. He stated when Mrs. Adamour asked for these she was originally told that the Fire Department didn’t have anymore and then he was lead to understand that after October 1st we could probably get them. He stated he had no inclination it would happen as a budget transfer and he reiterated he would write the check for the $159.80.

    Deputy Mayor Maingot said that he understands Commissioner Sackett did come with an attempt to meet with the Administrator to pay for this and it was unfortunate that she was occupied in her office and he was unable to go through with the transaction. He stated he did not see the need for a budget transfer if it has been indicated Commissioner Sackett is willing to pay for that.

    Ms. Powell said the issue was that the City already bought them on a purchasing card so they have to have the money in that account to cover the cost which is why the budget transfer has to be done.

    Commissioner Holt inquired why didn’t he just go to Home Depot and purchase the items.

    Commissioner Sackett said he would have done that if he had been told that way.
    He reiterated he was told that after October 1st they would be purchased and he did not hear about a budget transfer until Friday evening. He stated they were picked up at the Fire Department around 4:30 p.m. on Friday. He said the communication was poor regarding this matter.

    Commissioner Durso said he appreciates the fact that Commissioner Sackett is willing to pay for these after the fact. He stated Commissioner Sackett said he didn’t expect it to be a budget transfer and inquired what he expected it to be. He said it has been made clear by this Commission that they don’t have the money and should be cutting a little further. He stated he saw a picture of Commissioner Sackett’s campaign logo with the words “smoke detectors donated by” beneath it. He inquired if Commissioner Sackett could explain this.

    Commissioner Sackett said he expected that the Fire Department would have twenty (20) smoke detectors available and he was told they could be picked up at the Fire Department on Friday. He stated he would have written a check at that time or earlier had he known. He said he understands Ms. Rachel Jackson from the Orlando Sentinel called today and asked the same thing about this picture. He stated he spoke with Ms. Adamour and as she stated, this was not a political event
    and he did not remember a picture like that at all. He declared if it was there and he had seen it, he would have taken it down. Deputy Mayor Maingot said it was more than likely that this was prepared and Commissioner Sackett never saw this.

    Mayor Bundy said if it was a pre-printed poster, and that was the assumption when looking at the photo, then why were the smoke detectors purchased with City dollars. He stated he could understand miscommunication.

    Deputy Mayor Maingot said the person who spoke here this evening was probably not aware of all that is involved in campaign issues and legalities involved.

    Mayor Bundy inquired why didn’t the sign say “smoke detectors donated by the “City of Longwood”. He said the City of Longwood’s Fire Department logo was on the sign for some other reason and there was a City logo thanking the
    Stormwater Department for providing the tables for the event. He stated this was a sticky situation. He said, as they all know, in campaigns candidates get people who are not immersed in campaigns like they are and it was easy for them to misapply. However, it was still the candidate’s responsibility.

    Deputy Mayor Maingot said he saw this as a misrepresentation rather than a calculated situation.

    Mayor Bundy asked the City Attorney how this matter could be fixed.

    Commissioner Sackett read the electronic mails that went out and said he was surprised that picture was available like that and this was the first time he was seeing it. He reiterated that he would prefer to write a check to the account line.

    Mr. Roper said this was first brought to his attention when he walked in this evening. He stated he didn’t know of any reason as to why Commissioner Sackett could not pay that amount if he so chooses to do so. He said there were still a lot of unknowns and from what he has heard from Commissioner Sackett he denied any prior knowledge of the photograph that has been put into the record. He stated as it was pointed out, candidates have overzealous individuals who do things on their behalf without their knowledge. He said these things should be known, but he hasn’t heard any of that this evening. He urged everyone to tread carefully on the second issue.

    Commissioner Holt suggested Commissioner Sackett purchase twenty (20) smoke detectors and give them to the Fire Department and call it even.

    Mr. Roper said he didn’t see any reason that wouldn’t work either.

    Mayor Bundy said the first issue was the payment. He stated the City has already purchased them and the Administrator was looking for the Commission’s
    permission to do a budget transfer. He said if Commissioner Sackett wants to write a check, however, the finances work, he can handle that. He asked the City Attorney if he would be comfortable in looking into the questions that are

    Mr. Roper responded in the affirmative.

    Deputy Mayor Maingot inquired how the Orlando Sentinel reporter got hold of the photograph they have seen this evening.

    Ms. Powell said the photograph was sent to her by electronic mail and the reporter asked her for it.

    Mayor Bundy said it was sent to him by electronic mail and he forwarded it to the City Administrator. He stated he did not know who sent it to him. He said by the same token, they have to recognize the fact that City funds were used and there was a sign that states they were donated by a candidate. He declared they have to
    look into this. He said the City Attorney was in a better position to look into this matter than anyone.

    Commissioner Sackett said if they had time to send this photograph by electronic mail around to everyone but him, he had a problem with that, but he would address this with the City Attorney.

    Deputy Mayor Maingot said there was definitely a problem somewhere. He stated he can see where Commissioner Sackett has tried to make every attempt to communicate with the City Administrator regarding this issue and was not able to get through to her.

    Ms. Powell said she received a call on Saturday about Firefighters being on location at this particular event and concerns that it was a candidate’s campaign. She stated she had no idea there was that kind of event going on. She said
    Commissioner Sackett had just stated he needed smoke detectors for a community event. Apparently, the Fire Department was asked a couple of weeks ago to participate in the event and when they showed up was when they found that there was a candidate there and felt uncomfortable being there.

    Commissioner Sackett declared that needed to be retracted. He said he was not there as a candidate, he was there as Commissioner Sackett.

    Ms. Powell said the Firefighters were also
    concerned that their logo was on the sign saying they would be installing smoke detectors. When she received the call she spoke with the Acting Fire Chief and asked him to look into the matter. He spoke to the people there and she gave them the go ahead to leave as they had stated they were uncomfortable.

    Deputy Mayor Maingot said the same comment made about the Firefighters being concerned about their logo being there can also be translated to Commissioner Sackett not knowing about what they are seeing being transmitted to the City
    Administrator. He stated it seems to be a genuine misunderstanding by the parties who were putting on this event in their wanting to show appreciation to the participants.

    Mayor Bundy said this was why they need the City Attorney to ask those questions of the people involved.

    Ms. Powell said that Mr. Roper was also an employee of this Commission and she suggested they have an outside person investigate this matter.

    Mr. Roper said they were putting the cart before the horse. He stated he did not like the term investigation and said he had no problem in speaking with the effected parties. He advised it should be known that at some point in time he may
    have to step out of the way if an investigation is initiated.

    Commissioner Sackett read a letter into the record from him as follows:
    “A few months ago when Ms. Powell was selected as our Administrator, I had reservations about the process and the selection. A few weeks ago while speaking to our Police Chief he commented that he was pleased that I had said that I would
    gladly give her the opportunity to serve our community. Being in education, I understand there is a learning curve and I expected some clarifications be needed as she progressed in establishing her team. I did vote against the Budget for many reasons, but I was pleased with the process and I was able to meet with Ms.
    Powell and Mr. Jon Williams in anticipation of understanding the line items in the Budget. This was a lengthy meeting and it helped to lead me into some guiding questions relating to certain expenditures during our Commission Meetings. Also,
    a while ago Commissioner Durso, and I thank him for saying this, encouraged us to meet with Ms. Powell should we have any concerns that need addressing. This I am sad to report has been problematic for me. Two recent events have occurred in which I have had difficulty in communicating with the Administrator. According to my phone records, on September 14, 16, four (4) times on September 24th, September 30th, October 3rd, and two (2) times on October 5th I
    have had only one call back recorded from Ms. Powell. I have also stopped by numerous times and have not been able to see Ms. Powell as Ms. Jaime said she was in meetings. So, I am at a crossroad. I need to be informed and communicated
    with in order to understand concerns of our citizenry. It’s my duty. Recently, I attended two (2) community events and one was a request by citizens surrounding Rock Lake and their need to have some help getting a panel discussion together. I am proud that I facilitated this meeting and the organizers are pleased with the
    outcome. In reference to the meeting, I electronically mailed Ms. Powell with a litany of concerns that have been recently brought to my attention. I’ve deleted some of these concerns as they are not related to the two (2) community events. The other involves smoke detectors being available for a community event this past weekend. Again, this lack of communication and via electronic mail only has hindered effective delivery. I was not aware that these smoke detectors were not available due to cuts in the community programs, but now I am. I was told that
    they would be purchased after October 1st. The transpiration of events is included in this
    e-mail: ‘I was surprised today when I received a call from the news network asking about the smoke detectors. I responded to them basically by the
    chain of electronic mail conversations with Ms. Powell. I have stated prior to the event that I will not deficit the Budget for these detectors, but I will pay for them.’ This message was sent prior to the event and when I went in today to pay was discouraged my attempt. Relevant electronic mails began after the initial phone
    call in September asking for assistance from The Landings in getting the twenty (20) smoke detectors for this event this past weekend. I believe in order to put closure to this topic, it is necessary to make sure that we have professional communication with our Administrator. I thank you for your time.”

    Ms. Powell said during the Budget Work Session all of the information from the Departments was passed out that clearly showed the Community Relation line was completely depleted, including smoke detectors. She stated she wrote down
    the items listed in his electronic mail sent to her and provided these to the Department Heads. She said she had responded to him with answers to all of his questions, even those that did not apply to The Landings. She stated she didn’t know anything about the telephone calls, that she calls him back when she receives his call. She said that Ms. Shearer had told him she would get her on one occasion when he came in and Commissioner Sackett told Ms. Shearer not to. She
    stated she was there to meet with him and if there is a staff member in her office the Commissioners are more than welcome to come in. She said she needed to do the budget transfer in order to get this item paid and if he desired to pay for these, then that was completely up to him. She stated she would prefer that Commissioner Sackett donate that money to the Fire Department for the smoke detectors because that line item has been depleted.

    Commissioner Durso moved to approve the budget transfer to keep the books straight per the recommendation of the City Administrator and
    accept Commissioner Sackett’s reimbursement. Deputy Mayor Maingot seconded the motion.

    Commissioner Holt said the motion was good until the last part. He stated what Commissioner Sackett was up to him if he chooses to do it. He said he would either amend the motion or Commissioner Durso could drop that portion.

    Commissioner Durso said the part about Commissioner Sackett was already out there and has nothing directly to do with the business of the City, so he will amend the motion.

    Commissioner Durso moved to amend the motion to just approve the budget transfer. Seconded by Commissioner Holt.

    Commissioner Sackett asked the City Attorney for his opinion since this seems to be an integrity challenge, and he believed he was doing the right thing at the timen with the information he had, whether he should vote on this or abstain.

    Mr. Roper advised it would be wise on Commissioner Sackett’s part to abstain.

    Deputy Mayor Maingot said it was quite evident that there was politics being played from the dais tonight. He stated the situation was being blown right out of proportion.

    Mayor Bundy said the intent in amending the motion was to remove the politics from it so that there was no qualification as to the right or wrong on this matter.

    He stated this way the Administrator can conduct the business of the City and move forward.

    Deputy Mayor Maingot said he did not believe Commissioner Durso had any political intent in his motion, but he sees the entire matter as being extremely political.

    Commissioner Durso said he would like to call the question.

    Motion to amend carried by a three/one/zero roll call vote with Deputy Mayor Maingot voting nay and Commissioner Sackett abstaining.

    Main motion, as amended, failed to carry by a two/two/zero roll call vote with Deputy Mayor Maingot and Commissioner Holt voting nay and
    Commissioner Sackett abstaining.

    Commissioner Holt moved to approve transferring funds from line 5200 to the 4800 line to balance. Seconded by Mayor Bundy and carried by a
    three/one/zero roll call vote with Deputy Mayor Maingot voting nay and Commissioner Sackett abstaining.

    Mayor Bundy inquired if there was any further discussion on this issue or direction. He asked if the Commission wanted the City Attorney to make the telephone calls and ask the questions or not.

    Deputy Mayor Maingot said he did not see any further need for that and stated they have already done what they needed to do this evening.

  9. Darryl Richardson says:

    These are the minutes from the meeting so there is no question about what transpired that night.

    We will let the Longwood residents decide.

  10. Jean says:

    Something sounds off but I already know who I’m voting for.I listened to all the candidates audio interviews and was disappointed in some of what was said but there was one person I felt was open and honest and we will see if he wins if he means what he says and says what he means if he fails to do what he said he’ll be gone in the next election.The people are tired of them saying one thing and then doing something else.We know there are going to be some decisions that will have to be made they we may not like but let’s see which ones and go from there.So I wish all good luck on Nove 3re and may the best man win.

  11. John says:

    I have been watching this election with great interest. I have spoken personally with all but one of the people running and have made a decision. I’m voting for John Richardson. Brian Sackett tolled me to my face that he has a good plan for the Longwood fire department he planes on giving them to Seminole County. Now I see a sign out that he supports city owned fire department. So is he just having trouble making up his mind? No I think he is lying through his teeth just like ever other dirty politician out there. So I did a little looking yes Seminole county fire would be cheaper for the city but not for the people of Longwood we would have to pay more. I don’t believe Brian Sackett has the interest of the people of Longwood in mine only his own. Don’t forget for the people by the people. We are the ones voting you are there to represent us too many politicians have forgotten that. So I know who is thinking about the people Longwood John Richardson. So that’s who I will be voting for. I just hope that what I have seen helps others to decide.

  12. brian says:

    Mr. Sackett is a good teacher!

    Wilson Elem. c/o ’00

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