Orange County mayoral candidates talk key issues

Candidates speak at Central Florida Urban League's annual policy discussion

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The three candidates running for Orange County mayor met for the first time Friday to discuss key issues.

As part of the Central Florida Urban League's annual policy discussion, the organization invited Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, District 3 Commissioner Pete Clarke and nonprofit consultant Rob Panepinto to speak about their plans for the future of Orange County.

Demings, who likely has the most name recognition of the candidates, talked about his track record as a leader in the county for more than 20 years.

"You do not have to guess about whether or not I can lead in this community, because you've seen me doing it," Demings said.

During the discussion, all three candidates spoke about issues such as poverty, affordable housing and infrastructure.

As a political newcomer, Panepinto said his experience in the world of business will help build a better Orange County.

"You need a skill set from someone that knows how to create a job, to build a business, to work for a nonprofit, so they can bring a different lens and a different set of solutions to our community," Panepinto said.

For Clarke, a main talking point was how to spend tax dollars the right way. He said he's seen improvements in his district since he was elected, and his goal is to bring much of the same across the county.

"I want to leave something better for our children.  Something better for our community," Clarke said.  "I want to attack those issues that are under there (and) that are keeping people from succeeding."

Orange County residents will be able to cast their votes for mayor on Aug. 28. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff during the general election on Nov. 6.

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