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Gary Siplin picks up $42K in his bid for Orlando City Council

Siplin now has raised $53,000, Burns $16,000.

Democratic former state Sen. Gary Siplin made an impressive statement toward a political comeback in April when his campaign to be elected to the Orlando City Council raised more than $42,000, swamping all other candidates for any council seats.

Siplin is running for  Orlando’s City District 6 seat, which is opening up because incumbent Commissioner Sam Ings is running for mayor instead of re-election.

The other two Orlando City Council seats, for District 2 and 4, do not yet have contests. Both Commissioner Tony Ortiz in District 2 and Commissioner Patty Sheehan in District 4 are seeking re-elections, so far unopposed,

Orlando’s municipal elections are in November.

In April, Siplin’s campaign was showered with support from development interests and others in the city’s business establishment, with 22 maximum $1,000 checks fueling his $42,850 take for the month. In two months, Siplin now has raised $53,200. His campaign also has spent $10,553, so he entered May with $42,600 in the bank.

Siplin’s campaign drew eight $1,000 checks from development interests, two entities representing Mears Transportation, and four grocers. Other big checks came in from HMS Host Food Services, restaurateur Johnnie Rivers, Clear Channel, I-Drive NASCAR, and lawyer Anthony Suarez.

Meanwhile, District 6 candidate Bakari Burns posted a respectable collection of $7,135 in April and has raised about $16,685 overall in his bid for the District 6 seat. Burns entered May with about $12,300 in the bank.

Burns picked up a couple of $1,000 checks from the family of former Orlando City District 6 Commissioner Ernest Page, and one from former Orange County Democratic Chair Doug Head.

Perennial candidate Lawanna Gelzer also filed to run for the District 6 seat in April, though she did not report any campaign finance activity. A fourth candidate, VickiElaine Felder, withdrew in April.

In District 2, Ortiz really has not yet begun to raise any re-election campaign money. He reported having $114 in the bank at the end of April, none of it raised in April.

In District 4, Sheehan has begun stocking a campaign fund. She raised $10,035 in April and entered May with about $18,000 in the bank.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at

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