Craig Russell wins seat on Winter Park City Commission
Winter Park City Hall. Image via City of Winter Park

He will fill the remainder of new Mayor Sheila DeCiccio's Commission term.

Political newcomer Craig Russell has narrowly won an open seat on the Winter Park City Commission.

Russell won 50.3% of the vote over opponent Jason Johnson, according to unofficial final results from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections. The 0.6% margin of victory was just outside the window to trigger a recount under state law, so the results appear to be final. Russell won by 34 votes out more than 5,700 cast.

Now Russell will fill out the term City Commissioner term for Sheila DeCiccio, who resigned to run for Mayor. She won that office in March, so she will remain at City Hall in a higher position.

The election last month saw Russell, Johnson and Stockton Reeves all compete for DeCiccio’s Seat 2 post, but no one secured a majority. Russell won 42% to Johnson’s 34% at the time, with Reeves picking up the remaining 24%.

Russell, a coach at Winter Park High School, ran with the support of the local Chamber of Commerce. In addition to his role at the local high school, Russel and wife Kate Demory in 2019 founded the Army of Angels, a local nonprofit focused on helping at-risk youth succeed in school and graduate.

As far as issues, Russell ran on the need for workforce housing in the tony Orange County community. He called on his website for “ensuring our teachers and police officers can afford to live here.” He also said the city needs better infrastructure and advocated for “promoting smart, residents-first growth.”

Johnson, a lawyer, ran on a preservationist message about preventing development from destroying the city’s character.

“I will preserve the charm that makes Winter Park one of the best places in America to live and visit,” he said on his website.

Johnson sits on the Winter Park Board of Adjustments, where he was just re-elected as Chairman, and he has been involved in local nonprofits including Special Olympics Florida and has served as a student mentor at the public schools and the FAMU College of Law.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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