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Chris Messina

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Candidate, Orange County mayor

Public Service

Never held elective office.




  • Rutgers University, B.S.

  • Harvard Business School, MBA

  • Rotary Fellow, University of Sydney

In a video on his campaign website conservative Republican Chris Messina, said, “the good Lord has called me” to be mayor. He is joined by fellow conservative Republican Ret. Army Colonel Tony Sabb and Democrat Kelly Semrad in a race to unseat incumbent Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, a Democrat in the Aug. 23 primary.

Unlike closed primary races, Democrats, Republicans and independents can all vote in nonpartisan races regardless of party affiliation or no party affiliation. The candidate with more than 50 percent of the vote will be mayor. If no candidate wins a majority in the primary, the top two will face off in a run-off election Nov. 8.

Like his fellow challengers, Messina is strongly opposed to the mayor’s plan to fix the county’s roads, rail and buses and pay for it with a 1-cent sales tax increase for the next 20 years. He called it “regressive,” “destructive” and “unnecessary” when he talked with VoxPopuli at the Pine Hills Community Council’s People’s Hob Nob held at the Orange County Fairgrounds July 14.

Rather than expanding Lynx service, Messina told VoxPopuli that he believes Orange County would provide better public transportation service at lower cost by making use of the service’s “smaller access vans” — and by possibly teaming up with a ride-sharing provider for a “smaller, more nimble fleet that’s technology-enabled.”

Messina favors solar energy and says he has panels on his own home. “It makes a ton of sense. We get a lot of sunshine,” he told VoxPopuli. “It helps you get off the grid, helps you become a local power producer.”

On his website, Messina outlines ideas for the county to replace ornamental plants with those that bear food to create “food forests” with the “bounty donated to local food banks or otherwise offered to the community at no charge.” He also supports assigning lake protection to local management groups, no kill animal shelters for animals and stronger ties and “sister city” programs with Puerto Rico.

As a father of a child with Down syndrome and founder of the nonprofit 3-21 Foundation that helps families like his, Messina advocates for better schooling and transportation options for people with disabilities. However, he also supports “legislation banning the targeted abortion of babies diagnosed in-utero with disabilities,” according to his campaign website. Messina, whose vision statement talks about “leadership that follows Judeo-Christian values,” has attended Church of Planned Parenthood sidewalk worship services near University of Central Florida for “repentance for the apathetic church and of our blood guiltiness in this abortion holocaust.” He wants to see more support for crisis pregnancy centers in Pine Hills and Winter Garden.

Asked about the teacher shortage, Messina told VoxPopuli, “It’s really important that we keep qualified teachers. But it’s also important we get rid of the bad teachers.” Messina did not qualify the difference. He has been campaigning with Moms For Liberty-endorsed candidates for School Board Demensio Barton and Rachel Kirby.

— Norine Dworkin
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