Building supply co. CFO says he wants “to work to solve problems.”
Scott Kennedy, 54, candidate for Ocoee District 1 Commissioner, highlighted his priorities in a Friday phone interview with VoxPopuli, citing traffic concerns and the city’s budget process as predominant concerns for constituents.
“My top issue is traffic and congestion,” said Kennedy, who is the vice chair of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. “That’s the issue that is on the mind of every resident in District 1.”
There is already a city project to widen Ocoee-Apopka Road to four lanes south of West Road. Kennedy said that widening the road north of West Road would also help alleviate some of the congestion.
“A lot of the traffic is commuter traffic, and I'm going to work with County Commissioner Christine Moore to try to get that solved. But traffic and traffic safety need to be addressed in all areas of District 1. For example, families and kids should be able to walk along Wurst Road without getting hit by speeding cars.”
Kennedy also wants stricter enforcement of speed limits and better lighting on Ocoee-Apopka Road. There were two traffic fatalities on that road in 2022. In April, a driver drifted off the road and crashed into a tree where Ocoee-Apopka meets Demastus Lane. In November, a pedestrian was killed in a hit and run outside of the ForestBrooke neighborhood.
Kennedy, who has been president of the ForestBrooke homeowners association for the past 10 years, described the stretch of Ocoee-Apopka as “very dark,” adding “speeding is out of control.”
The city budget is another key issue for Kennedy, who is chief financial officer for Orlando-based building materials distributor R. S. Elliott Specialty Supply. He also ran a consultancy for CFOs for 18 years.
“I'm a numbers guy, and I think it's important that the budget represents the priorities of the residents,” he said. “I intend to be very active and a strong advocate in the budget process.”
Conducting an operational audit of the city’s finances has emerged as an election issue after questions have been raised about why finances for two high-profile city events — the Music Festival and Ocoee Remembers, commemorating victims of the city’s 1920 massacre — were handled differently.
Mayoral candidate Chris Adkins is campaigning on it as a matter of transparency and accountability, recently telling VoxPopuli that if elected he would “immediately ask for a consensus” to have an outside firm start the auditing process. “We shouldn't have different rules for different festivals,” he said. His opponent, District 4 Commissioner George Oliver III, has repeatedly called for the audit that the city commission unanimously approved in 2016 but never conducted.
At the Jan. 17 city commission meeting, District 1 Commissioner Larry Brinson, Sr., who is not running for re-election, raised the audit issue, saying he wanted an outside operational audit that goes beyond the financials that the city supplies to the state in an annual comprehensive financial report.
“We’ve had monies come into the city, and it’s been said, not by me, but by city staff, that they don’t provide reports for certain monies that come into the city,” Brinson said. “They don’t track those monies. I think that’s problematic. I would like to see how money is coming into the city. When it comes into the city, where is it being placed, where does it live? And when it leaves the city, where is it going and to whom is it going?”
City Manager Robert Frank told the city commission during that meeting that city staff “didn’t have an issue” with an independent audit, which had yet to be conducted because the scope had not been specified.
Kennedy, who said he’s done his share of audits as a certified public accountant, said he “generally supports audits.”
“They can be good, but I think they can also be open-ended. They can have scope creep.” He said when doing an audit, “you define the question, you audit the facts and you answer the question. The purpose of an auditor is to express an opinion on a specific scope of work.”