Orlando District 4 City Commissioner Patty Sheehan will seeking a fifth term this November, and wants voters to know she’s ready to serve and to set the record straight on the property tax increase that has been the dominant theme in all of city races.
Like Mayor Buddy Dyer and fellow Commissioner Sam Ings, who are both also up for re-election this year, Sheehan has been criticized by her opponents for the 17.7 percent tax increase that City Council unanimously approved last year to cover a budget shortfall. She says the message has gotten distorted, and that imposed caps on commercial properties led to a substantial decrease in revenue that led to a 40 percent decrease in the city’s revenue.
Sheehan adds that her opponents have blown the 17.7 percent number out of proportion saying, “We’re still below 2009 tax levels, that’s the thing. The average citizen pays $40 bucks a month, less than their cable bill. It’s a $7 dollar per month increase. That’s what’s been so frustrating. I’ve gotten complaints from my opponents but not from constituents.”
Sheehan has been proud of the art projects created in District 4 in the past couple of years, the national publicity they have gotten, and contends Lake Eola Park is still the gem of the city. She questions her opponent’s ability to work with other leaders in the community. “We’re getting all of these things done, we’re forging relationships. If all you’ve got is a tax increase to complain about, you’re not going to be a successful commissioner.”
If the voters give her another term, she wants to focus on balance between developments and possibly implementing limits on size, mass, and scale of some of the apartment communities in the middle of the neighborhood, as well as strengthening historic preservation in the area.
She’s also brought up alternative ideas that have been well received by the city, and could possibly be adopted on the county level as well. “Composting, urban chickens, doggy dining, this is stuff people think I’m crazy for, but I’ve been to other cities and it’s worked, now it’s working here.”
Sheehan faces opposition from activist and talk show host Randy Ross and Navy veteran Aretha Olivarez. She thinks her existing relationship with the voters will lead her to victory.
“I tell my folks, I’ll tell you what I want to be when I grow up. They tell me ‘never grow up.’ People have asked me to serve. I love what I do and I’ll be here for as long as they want me,” Sheehan said.