For the afternoon of April 8, there were more questions and answers about Orange County governance than about paintings and sculptures at the Orlando Museum of Art.
BusinessForce hosted the first debate between Winter Garden Commissioner Bobby Olszewski and Oakland businesswoman Betsy VanderLey, frontrunners in the race to replace outgoing District 1 Orange County Commissioner S. Scott Boyd.
Tension flared when Olszewski repeatedly attacked VanderLey's record on votes related to schools as a member of the county Planning & Zoning Commission – after each had given a closing statement.
“We have to find ways to site our schools appropriately in West Orange County, in the highest growth area in the county,” VanderLey said in closing. “They're calling for a relief school to come online when a school is at 150% capacity. When you're in an area like Horizon West, next year it's at 200%. We've got to find ways to give the school board tools to get those schools on the ground faster, to respond to high growth that we have.”
“You've consistently voted against schools,” Olszewski interjected.
VanderLey said the only time she had voted against any school was a kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school in east Orange County because it was prohibited in the rural settlement developers sought. But Olszewski insisted she had voted against a relief high school in Wedgefield and instead voted for hundreds of new homes to support developers. VanderLey said the projects were entirely unrelated.
Olszewski also portrayed VanderLey as a third term of Boyd, citing her management of his campaigns. VanderLey said she and Boyd have been good friends but have disagreements.
“It's not Scott Boyd's third term,” VanderLey said. “I've been married 25 years, and I don't always agree with my husband; he's my favorite person on the planet. Scott and I have a long friendship … but that doesn't mean we agree all the time. … There are things I want to do that have never been on his radar.” ... read more