Name: Jim Murray
Have lived in Mount Dora since: July 2011
Professional Experience and Background:
After high school I went directly into the military, from 1974 to 1977. I was a military police officer and then I changed over and became a chaplain’s assistant for the last 1-1/2 years of my service. After the military, I was attending Boston College when I was hit with cancer. I spent three years fighting it and came away with a clean bill of health. I went to Miami Dade County in 1981, serving as a uniformed patrol officer and then went into a special investigations unit that primarily focused on what we would today call community policing. I was in special operations and dealt with everything except public corruption, homicide, robbery and sexual battery.
I am a member of Disabled American Veterans. I was considered disabled because my cancer was attributed to Agent Orange. Part of my job in the military was transporting Agent Orange, as well as transporting American prisoners. I have also been a member of the American Legion, C.O.P.s (Concerned Police Survivors), and I am a retired member of the Police Benevolent Association. I am a volunteer at Lake Cares Food Pantry and Lake Life Coaching Center.
How will your professional and educational experience, or your background, help you to perform the duties of council member, if you are elected?
All of the jobs I have held, for example in Key Biscayne, and Aventura, and Miami Lakes allowed me to observe mistakes that were made by local government and to learn from them. For example, the city of Sunny Isles Beach was once a beautiful small town with three-story buildings. You could see the sunrise from everywhere. Now, there are 45-story buildings – and all of the associated huge problems that come along with the kind of overdevelopment. There was an increase in crime, in traffic; the aesthetics of the town were destroyed. I listened and I learned; I will do everything I can to see that never happens here – by setting strong policies that honor the wishes of the residents of Mount Dora to protect our historic downtown.
Why are you running for a Mount Dora City Council seat?
I am tired of seeing how special interest groups are dividing us. It’s something we have to find a way around. We need to elect people who have no hidden agendas, and no one should have special influence over the votes of the council. People should be elected who will represent everyone and not just a select few. I also believe more focus should be directed to the Northeast Community and to our Innovation District.
What 3 issues do you see as the top concerns for the City Council to focus on now, and going forward?
- Controlled responsible growth within the Innovation District and the areas around it is critical to the city’s future. To do that successfully, we need to work with our neighboring cities. For example, Eustis has a 5-year CUP (consumptive use permit for water), ours is for 20 years. Why are we not reaching out to Eustis to talk about water? The city is looking to expand its reclaimed water supply through the development of the Thrill Hill reservoir. If we worked together with Eustis, we could be saving money, as well as making progress, and still retain control over asset.
- Infrastructure along 441, 46 and Britt Road. That will be paramount as o what we can and cannot do relative to any development along those corridors. Eustis is currently far ahead of Mount Dora in planning for the future. Look at the ISBA they are proposing.
- Most important to the future stability and balance in the city, we need to discuss redistricting. In 2020 we will be required to review our districts. We need to think now about creating 6 equal districts and doing away with the at-large council seats. Right now, a majority of our council can be elected from a single district. If even the federal and state governments can look to redistrict to ensure fair representation, we can also. It is the only way elections in Mount Dora will be fair and equitable in the future.
Much has been said at council meetings about the need for an economic development director/planner in Mount Dora. What does the term economic development mean to you?
We have an economic plan. It was developed over years with business and citizen input. We need to hire an individual in-house that will be under the policy direction of the council, who in turn, report to the citizens of Mount Dora. We don’t need to continue hiring outside firms and consultants to express our views and vision for the city. We should stop rehashing the same points over and over. We need to analyze potential growth areas and consider what would be best for Mount Dora, considering issues like geography, traffic patterns, and the watershed. We need to plan and develop our community for the future. Let’s keep this under the city’s purview, and not enlist an outside agency. That’s been done in the past.
What brief message (3 sentences or less) would you like residents to hear about your candidacy as they consider their choices for office in November?
1) I will always put the City of Mount Dora’s best interest first! No special interest group will ever come first. It is this “division” that could be the downfall in the end.
2) I will always listen and answer my constituents. You may not like the answer, you may love the answer, but you will get an answer.
3) Finally, I have the desire, the time, drive and commitment to fairly, equally and honestly represent my neighbors within District 3 and the citizens of Mount Dora as a whole.
Email contact: JimMurray2016@gmail.com
Telephone Contact: 786-287-7201