top of page

Shane Taylor

Avatar 106

Candidate, Oakland Mayor

Public Service

Has never held elected office 

Planning and Zoning Board, 2011-2024


Director of Construction and Development, Dr. Phillips Charities


University of South Florida, BA, History, 1996

Strange things propel people into politics. For longtime Oaklander Shane Taylor, it was sand.

Sand from the Johns Lake Outfall Canal was piling up on the banks of Oakland homes fronting Lake Apopka. In March, the Oakland Town Commission hired a contractor to reroute the canal. But not long after the $120,000 project was completed, sand started piling up again.

In November, while commissioners were debating whether to spend another $120,000 to remove the sand a second time, Taylor spoke up and recommended they bring in an engineer to advise them on fixing the recurring problem.

The commission nixed the engineer and spent the $120,000.

That was the moment Taylor decided to run for mayor.

"I walked out of there and I was just livid," he told VoxPopuli in an interview. "At that point, you don't care about the rest of the town."

With longtime Mayor Kathy Stark retiring after nearly three decades on the commission, Tayor (formally known as Gordon Shane Taylor), a general contractor with Dr. Phillips Charities, faces Commissioner Sal Ramos in the March 19 election.

Mail-in ballots have begun arriving in mailboxes. You can still request a mail-in ballot until 5 p.m. March 7. Early voting starts March 4.

The mayor serves part-time for a four-year term, and like commissioners, receives a $50 monthly stipend plus health insurance. All on the town commission can opt into dental ($34.99) and vision ($6.55) coverages at the town employee rate, according to Assistant Town Manager/Clerk Elise Hui.

Elections are something of a rare occurrence in Oakland. The last one was held in 2022 when newcomer Matthew Bunevich challenged Commissioner Rick Polland for his seat while Commissioner Joseph McMullen went unopposed. Before that, it had been 16 years since the last election. Even this year, Seat 3, which Ramos resigned to run for mayor, enticed no qualifying candidates.

Taylor’s family has been in Oakland since the 1930s when his great-grandparents settled there as vegetable farmers. His mother was born in Oakland. After getting his history degree at University of South Florida in Tampa, Taylor returned to Oakland in 1998 with his wife Kelly when the town had all of 900 residents.

Working in the construction business, Taylor started getting involved in town projects after he decided to rebuild the Grover Cleveland Tubb statue that had been knocked down in a vehicle crash.

“It sat there probably for about two weeks,” he recalled. “One day I was talking to my neighbor, and I said, Hey, let's go build that thing because I'm tired of coming home and seeing it all knocked down. We ended up rebuilding that monument and putting it back up.”

After that, the town approached him to help build the new roundabout for the town square. By 2011, he was on the Planning and Zoning Board, which he currently chairs.

Taylor told a group of voters gathered at Prairie House Coffee’s open air patio on a recent Friday night that his campaign was about “protecting Oakland’s identity,” but also making everyone who lives in Oakland — those in the newer developments; those south of Highway 50; those in historic Oakland, those in apartments — feel that they’re all bona fide Oaklanders.

"We've got to pull everybody together," he said. "We've got to listen to everybody." 

He talked about the need for smart commercial development to sustain Oakland’s growth and keep taxes flat while partnering with “town builders, not builders in your town.” These, he explained, would be companies that would share the community's vision for finding boutique businesses that become destinations in themselves and perpetuate Oakland’s charm. Businesses like Farm Nine and Prairie House Coffee.

“I live here, so it's my house, it's my home,” Taylor, a father of three, told the crowd. “I want to make sure my home and my house is really well taken care of. The ideas I'm putting out there are not ideas that are crazy ideas. They’re ideas to make the town, its residents, better.”

Taylor expanded on his vision for Oakland in a separate interview with VoxPopuli on Feb. 7. It has been edited for length and clarity. Some material has been reordered and added from follow-up interviews.

VoxPopuli: Commissioner Sal Ramos has served on the commission for nine years. What makes you the better choice for Oakland?

Taylor:  I think what differentiates me from him, and most of the commission that's been there for 20-plus years, is a fresh vision and the fresh ideas that this town deserves and this town needs. It's time for this town to start progressing itself forward. I look at a town as something that you can manage and  create this great development that everybody can live, work, and play in. The charm is here… but you can create more charm.

VoxPopuli: The Johns Lake Outfall Canal was a controversial issue, and there was a lot of disagreement on the commission about whether to spend another $120,000 to remove the sand without consulting an engineer. What do you think about this now?

Taylor: When it first came about [in early 2023], it was the old town manager, Steve Koontz, and the assistant town manager, Jack Butler, and we met over lunch. I said, I think you should really get an engineer on board. When you're doing a project like that, you're spending that much money, spending an extra $10- $15-, $20,000 to get a professional opinion from somebody who says, No, you should do it this way, not that way, makes more sense not only project-wise, but business-wise, to make sure you're spending the money appropriately. 

The commission at that time all agreed to pay this contractor… to cut a swath [of sediment] out for [the residents] to get their boats out, and to re-divert the canal, and let's cross our fingers. So when they made a motion [to fix the sand again in November], I stood up. I feel bad for the homeowners, the Christies there. I genuinely do. They have a beautiful place. They’re great people. I think it has created some division there with me standing up. It's not that I'm opposed to doing it, that's not it at all.

[Ed. Note: The town commission eventually spent $20,000 to hire an engineer.]

VoxPopuli: You’ve talked about commercial development being essential for Oakland’s long-term growth. What kind of commercial development do you want to see?

Taylor: I'm not for car lots. I'm not for super-Walmarts. I'm not for anything like that. That would not serve the residents of the town. I don't want to see drive-thrus or fast food either. I mean, they have their places. They're not here. 

There's so many great ideas that you can do out there. It's a blank palette. I always say medical [offices] would be a great one. Why couldn't you work with a partner to come in and open a medical office building, and then you have your doctors here? You don’t have to drive to Winter Garden.

I think Tubb Street right here, this street right here, is the perfect street for a boutique, Winter Garden vibe. A prime example is Farm Nine and Prairie House Coffee here. If you could provide more of that down this road, and across the street, it's a game changer for the town and the residents of this town. Restaurants, however, won’t open unless there’s people to frequent the restaurants. If you have businesses that start populating [Highway] 50, then the restaurants will come in.

The town should focus on [bringing in] an economic director position. Those people are like cheerleaders. They go out and they promote the town, and they go out and work with the businesses.

VoxPopuli: What’s your stance on increasing property taxes?

Taylor:  I don't want to increase anybody's taxes, no. I'm trying not to. This town is going to hit a wall if you don't start bringing in other sources of revenue to help offset the taxes that basically fall to the residents right now. Almost 100 percent of the taxes fund this town to work. If you were to strip  away [grants and subsidies] and see what comes in, it comes from the residents, from your millage rate. The town relies on grants for a lot of things. But what if that grant doesn't come around, or what if that grant dries up? That's the other part of being fiscally responsible in the town. It’s like getting a paycheck and getting a bonus. You should live off your paycheck, not your bonus.

VoxPopuli: Multi-family developments have been an issue among the community. Many citizens don’t want apartments. How do you see Oakland expanding in terms of housing and apartments?

Taylor: When you look at apartments, there's pros and cons. The cons: some people are like, They're monstrosities, and there's a lot of concentration of people. But then again, there's pros. If you look at the financial side of an apartment building, the pro on that to a town or a community, and I'm looking at strictly financial, is that it's considered a commercial piece of property. If you have one, there's a tax base that it creates. Let’s say an apartment complex is worth $100 million. Oakland’s millage rate is 6.4 percent, and you have all these other fees. There goes $640,000 to support the town and its needs and infrastructure.

[Ed Note: Oakland’s millage rate is 6.3 percent.]

VoxPopuli: Your campaign site mentions creating green spaces. What’s your vision for environmental preservation and creating green space?

Taylor: I think we have the best asset, and it's the Oakland Nature Preserve, right? It's the best asset that the town has. That should be supported 100 percent.

I look outside the box. Green space doesn't have to be an open park like this. Green space could be the streetscape that you would do down Oakland Avenue. Maybe you put pedestrian sidewalks. Don't think about it just as a square space. Think about it as linear. The West Orange Trail is basically a huge linear park.

VoxPopuli: Residents are concerned about traffic coming into Oakland from developments on Highway 50. What can the town do?

Taylor: The traffic on [Highway] 50 is not caused by Oakland. The biggest traffic [in Oakland] is probably Lakeside Church on a Sunday. I will say that when traffic is bad [on Highway 50], or if it's blocked up, they take Oakland Avenue to bypass it.

There's this idea of a grid-type street system on commercial development for Highway 50 on both sides, and it's a great plan. You have these back streets that you can go back and forth, cross streets, and they go through from one side to the other, and get you off of that Highway 50 quarter. It's safety, cuts down on somebody getting hurt on 50 and the fast traffic that happens here. Then, it allows you to go from Point A to Point B. It just creates some more connectivity of the streets. That's what I'd like to see when that happens right there.

VoxPopuli: Municipal government officials are now required to file Form 6, which requires a more detailed reporting of their net worth, assets and liabilities than they used to file. State and federal lawsuits seeking to overturn the new law were filed Feb. 15. Oakland is not a part of the lawsuit but the town has expressed its support in favor of the lawsuits. What’s your opinion on that?

Taylor: On the P&Z, you have to do a disclosure form. It's a general disclosure form [called Form 1]. The commissioners have to do it, and you list any properties. It's just basic. I don't believe that it's necessary for me to list my house value as this, I own this car, I own this piece of property. I have nothing to worry about because I only own a house and I have nothing to hide. Good luck trying to find something. I think [Form 6] just gets a little bit too government touching me.

VoxPopuli: Despite ample evidence that the 2020 election was secure, a CNN poll from August showed that 69 percent of Republicans still believe the 2020 election was stolen. You’re a registered Republican. How do you view the 2020 election?

Taylor: Do I think the 2020 election was legitimate? Yes. Do I think that there should be some sort of election reform where not everybody can vote twice or whatever? I mean, there's always room for improvement. When it comes to elections, people will try to do what they can do to try to get their side to win and push their own agenda. I'd be all for a national holiday on election day, second week of November. A national holiday: There's no mail in. There’s no early voting. You need to show up on that day and you need to cast your vote.

VoxPopuli: The Appeals Court ruled that former President Trump is not immune from prosecution for crimes he may have committed while president. Do you believe the trials are politically motivated or is justice being served?

Taylor: I think you respect what they had to say. But for me, I'm concerned about my election here. [Donald Trump]’s got his own troubles and problems, and he's got to do his own thing. But that's the ruling they made. You have to respect what they made. But again, I'm concerned about myself becoming mayor. I only care about where I live and in my little community in town.

— Andrea Charur
bottom of page