Where do candidates stand in Seminole Commission District 2?
Protecting the county’s rural area is one of the top issues among the three candidates — Republican Jay Zembower, Democrat Katrina Shadix and non-party-affiliated Paul Cooper — vying for the District 2 seat on the Seminole County Commission in the Nov. 6 election.
Commission Chairman John Horan, who has held the seat since 2010, decided not to seek a third term. District 2 stretches from the center of the county to the eastern border and includes Geneva, Winter Springs and portions of Sanford and Longwood. Commissioners are elected countywide but must live within their districts.
Who they are
Zembower, 57, of Chuluota, is part owner of Zembower’s Auto Center in Altamonte Springs. He also is a consultant in automotive investigative forensics for law enforcement, government agencies and law firms.
Shadix, 50, of Geneva, is director of the nonprofit Bear Warriors United, which aims to protect Florida’s black bears. A secondgeneration Seminole County native, she is a member of the Foundation for Florida Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s bear technical assistance group.
Cooper, 57, is a Casselberry resident and was the part owner of Restore Computers, a repair business operated out of a home. He worked as substitute teacher, but was recently barred from teaching by Seminole County Public Schools for what district officials called inappropriate actions and comments to students.
Where they stand
A vocal advocate for protecting the county’s rural area, Zembower said high-density development should be concentrated in Seminole’s urban areas. In 2004, Seminole voters approved a ballot measure that established a strict rural boundary mostly east of the Econlockhatchee River. Densities in that rural area are currently limited to between one home per three acres and one home per 10 acres. But a majority vote by commissioners can change that zoning.
“There’s going to be development pressure in that rural area in the coming years,” Zembower said. “So my position is that the people voted to leave the rural area alone. We need to be smart about growth.”
Zembower proposes raising the county’s three-story height limit in most of the county’s urban areas to allow for more offices and residential complexes.
He also proposes eliminating “burdensome regulations” on local businesses and streamlining the county’s permitting process.
For example, when county building division employees are busy, workers in other departments could process applications and paperwork.
“There’s no reason they can’t be cross-trained so that they can jump in when things get busy,” Zembower said.
An ardent environmentalist, Shadix often speaks out at county meetings on conservation issues.
Shadix also supports protecting Seminole’s rural boundary and, along with Zembower, opposed the proposed River Cross mega-development that called for 600 singlefamily homes, 270 townhouses, 500 apartments and 1.5 million square feet of commercial space on 291 acres west of County Road 491 and north of the Orange County line, within the county’s rural boundary. County commissioners unanimously rejected the proposal in August. The developers have since filed a lawsuit against Seminole in federal court.
Shadix said the county should focus more on redeveloping vacant eyesores in urban areas rather than approving projects in undeveloped spots with woods or wetlands.
“We should work to refurbish and re-energize many urban areas,” she said. “We’re tired of developers coming in and doing what they want. I want that reputation to end.”
Shadix said the county and other local governments along the SunRail line should take a hard look at the inefficiencies of the mass transit system before “we sink any more money” into it.
Shadix blasted commissioners for recently boosting their pay by more than 2 percent to $83,708 a year, and said she would push for a referendum that commission salaries be pegged to Seminole’s median wage.
Campaigning without party affiliation, Cooper calls himself a “liberal Republican” or a “conservative Democrat.”
Seminole should make it easier for medical marijuana clinics to open within designated zones, Cooper said. He points out that his mother died from cancer, and “she would’ve been an excellent candidate for medical marijuana.”
“We need to make that as easy as opening a liquor store or a smoke shop,” said Cooper, 55.
He said Seminole should consider building through a public-private partnership a small-to-mediumsized convention center for musical performances, sports competitions and other events.
“It would help Cooper said.
Regarding growth and development, Cooper said the county should encourage developers to hire 75 percent of their workers – such as electricians, plumbers, masons, carpenters – from Seminole County. The developments should be affordable to those workers, who thereby would be building their own community through “sweat equity.”
In March, Seminole’s school district barred Cooper from working as a substitute teacher after officials said he told middle school students that he was shot “in the private areas” while in Grenada.
Unbeknownst to Cooper, first graders in his class watched a music video that depicted a boy drowning in a lake and dying in a car fire, the district said. attract tourism,”
How they differ
Shadix said she has not accepted any political donations from developers. She added that she signed a pledge not to raise taxes, even though Zembower supported a penny sales increase in 2014.
Zembower said he has committed more than $170,000 of his own money to his campaign. However, through September, Zembower has raised a total of $276,376, that includes the $170,000, according to county records.
“If you contribute to my campaign, it buys nothing from me,” he said. “You’re entitled to the same time and same open door as anyone else.”
Cooper said he is not beholden to a political party, unlike his opponents. He added that he limits his campaign contributions from individuals to $500 rather than the allowable $1,000.