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A campaign casualty?



In their mailboxes this week, 30,000 Orlando households finally will receive what his campaign has named The Bruce Gordy Plan for Orlando's Future, attaching an agenda to a candidate who has been more vocal about wanting to oust Glenda Hood and be mayor than about what he would do as mayor.

Woven into a plank about "our transportation crisis," however, is a suggestion that Gordy put into action even before those brochures reached the post office. "He won't sit on all those boards when he's mayor," said campaign manager Paul Seago, addressing Gordy's written vow to "work with Orange County to review Lynx and regional mass-transit programs," each overseen by boards on which Mayor Hood sits as the city's representative.

That is, she did until this week.

Sparking a contentious council debate, Gordy on Feb. 21 unexpectedly nominated a fellow council member to take over Hood's soon-to-expire term on the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority board. An angry Hood cried foul, but the six-member council -- half of whose members back Gordy -- voted against her. The job went to Don Ammerman, whose southeast Orlando district is home to Orlando International Airport.

Gordy's surprise action was motivated, he said, by a looming deadline: State law requires that someone be appointed at least 30 days before Hood's term ends on April 16, and the council's next scheduled meeting would have missed that deadline. But his move also directly illustrates his campaign theme that Hood refuses to share the wealth, which he says keeps council members isolated and in the dark. As mayor, he wants to change that, and elevating Ammerman proved his point.

"I don't think the mayor needs to serve on any boards particularly. ... Let the mayor stay in City Hall and run the government," Gordy says. "If there's anything of importance, then certainly the city commissioner will bring that back to the governing body." When ideas are exchanged, "then you don't have a problem. If you're a vacuum and the city commissioner doesn't get any information and doesn't know what's going on, then he or she is at a disadvantage."

Hood says in joint appearances that Gordy, Hood's first serious threat in her three campaigns, didn't ask for information. Yet as one example of barriers that Gordy says exist in many forms, he points to Hood's failure to follow up on suggestions that the City Council and Orange County Commission sit down together and discuss potential disputes.

That meeting is part of his campaign agenda. So is a summit of local municipalities to seek consensus on transportation needs -- a missing element that, ultimately, led to the loss of state and federal funds that collapsed light rail. When a regional rail line was on the table, Hood and Gordy both backed it; they diverged only after Orange County pulled out, and Hood tried to push ahead with a poor substitute. Would Gordy's summit agenda revive a regional light-rail plan like the once he once favored?

His campaign wouldn't commit. "Nothing's off the drawings boards," says Seago. "I don't think we can afford to take anything out of the discussion."

The pounding Hood has taken for championing, briefly, a rail line that would have linked downtown with Belz Factory Outlet World caused her to concede, in a commercial first broadcast last week, "Along the way I've made some mistakes. And I've learned from them."

The show of humility attempts to soften the stance that pushed Gordy into the race and became his rallying cry.

No one, however, does humility better than Tom Levine.

The dark-horse candidate is running on an anti-establishment campaign that includes shutting down City Hall on hot days to preserve electricity. His cause reached a peak when he successfully battled for the microphone at a debate from which a movers-and-shakers club had excluded him, securing his image as the ultimate outsider.

But he has another peak in mind: The freelance writer who has collected something like $600 -- Hood and Gordy together are pushing toward $600,000 -- is now going after money to put a commercial on TV. Filmed last weekend in a park off Greenwood Avenue, the spot is the volunteer effort of filmmaker Justyn Rowe.

The nearly wordless narrative is a metaphor for Levine's run: The opening shot shows the word "YO," then pulls back to reveal the full word "MAYOR" on a school desk at which Levine sits amid an open expanse of green. Wearing a white shirt, tie and jacket, Levine stands and shows off ... Bermuda shorts. His clothing becomes more casual as the spot unfolds, with a troubadour and others joining in as Levine walks past his hand-lettered campaign signs. In the end, the group meets folks in business suits, "and we vanquish the foe," says Levine.

Levine leant his minor celebrity months ago to those who failed to keep the Orange County School District from seizing their property for a school expansion south of Boone High School. That fight, too, is a metaphor for him in what he sees as the city's overdevelopment. He portrays his campaign simply as "people fighting for their homes. You don't have to have a lot of particulars with that. That'll come later.

"You just have to take a stand eventually," he says. "At least you can say you did it."


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