Orlando’s General Election will be held on Tuesday, November 7, with three public positions up for grabs: Mayor, District 4 Commissioner, and District 6 Commissioner.

Tuesday’s results will likely have a significant impact on several current and ongoing local initiatives, including the temporary moratorium on new nightclubs downtown, the recently acquired Pulse nightclub property, and the perennially-delayed Under-i Park. Each of which have been divisive issues for elected officials and residents alike.

Despite this, fewer than 23,000 eligible voters participated in the last municipal election, with some precincts reporting turnouts of less than 10 percent.

Building a stronger community starts with being informed and politically engaged. To that end, we’ve put together this roundup of the candidates vying for your vote, and the legislative issues they hope to enact.

For more information on how to cast your vote, visit ocfelections.com, or call 407-836-2070.


As Orlando’s chief executive and seventh member of the City Council, the Mayor holds significant influence over city legislation and administration.

Campaign finance reports suggest that the race is Buddy Dyer’s to lose. He’s raised over $480,000 for his reelection campaign – ten times more than the combined amounts raised by the other mayoral candidates.

Buddy Dyer – Incumbent

Dyer has served as the Mayor of Orlando since 2003, winning five consecutive general elections. His tenure has been defined by Orlando’s rapid growth and tackling the multitude of municipal challenges that come with it, including affordable housing and accessible public transit.

According to his campaign, Dyer’s legislative priorities include increasing public safety, creating a new breed of high-tech, high-wage careers for residents, working with Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings to make significant investments in expanding the region’s mobility options, and working with regional partners and across jurisdictional lines to continue to address the region’s housing challenges.

Samuel Ings

Ings served as District 6 City Commissioner for 13 years before running for Mayor against Buddy Dyer in 2019. Despite failing to secure more than 17% of the votes cast in that election, Ings has decided to run against Dyer again.

A former Orlando Police Department Captain, Ings has made reducing crime rates and increasing public safety the focal point of his campaign. Ings has blamed Dyer’s leadership for the rise of the homeless tent cities and crime rates in Parramore, and if elected, would make “neighborhood policing a priority in every community, not just downtown.”

Tony Vargas

According to his campaign, Tony Vargas has been a “seasoned fitness professional and active Orlando resident for over three decades.”

Also according to his campaign, Orlando’s streets are “marred by crime, homelessness, graffiti, and a pervasive sense of unease among the local community.” If elected, Vargas promises to shape the city into a place “where residents can live without fear.”

If not elected, Vargas’ rhetoric and physical fitness background may make him perfectly suited to become Orlando’s first superhero.

Steve Dixon

Coming off a defeat to Linda Stewart in the 2022 general election for Florida Senate District 17, Dixon – who previously ran as a Republican – has his sights set on the nonpartisan position of Orlando’s Mayor.

Running on a platform which includes crushing crime and igniting Orlando’s economy, Dixon seeks to, in his own words, “M.O.G.A.” (Make Orlando Great Again).

Good Grief.


District 4 – which encompasses parts of Mills 50, Milk District, SoDo, Thornton Park, and the Central Business District – has seen significant change in the last twenty years. One constant, however, has been its elected official, City Commissioner Patty Sheehan.

Two candidates – neither of which have held public office before – will seek to end Sheehan’s tenure.

Patty Sheehan – Incumbent

First elected in 2000, Sheehan has been a vocal representative for the preservation of some of Orlando’s most prominent neighborhoods, even through seismic developmental shifts.

Sheehan’s also been a strong and consistent advocate for LGBTQ issues and organizations in the community and has been heavily critical of the OnePulse Foundation and their handling of the Pulse memorial site.

Randy Ross

Randy Ross, a staunch conservative, is running on a simple platform: “Don’t San Francisco Our Orlando.”

According to Ross, Sheehan’s complacency has led to an influx of homeless tent cities and a rise in crime. His legislative agenda includes enacting term limits for City Commissioners and allocating public funds more efficiently.

Ross ran against Sheehan in the 2015 general election, but only received 20 percent of the vote (1,141 total votes). Most recently, Ross ran and lost to Doug Bankson in the 2022 Republican primary for Florida House of Representatives District 39.

Katie Koch

Koch is looking to leverage her experience as a business owner and working mom to usurp Sheehan’s incumbency. Koch’s legislative priorities including enacting term limits for local elected positions and rolling back the recently passed commissioner pay rates.


District 6 – which makes up parts of Pine Hills, MetroWest, Washington Shores, and Parramore – has long been a useful punching bag for candidates who want to “clean up the streets.”

That said, the rhetoric surrounding the area is not entirely unfounded. The residents of District 6 are facing significant challenges including a rising crime rate, and the all too familiar combination of a lack of affordable housing and a low median household income.

Bakari Burns – Incumbent

Burns is seeking his second term as Commissioner after defeating Gary Siplin in a general runoff election in 2019. His campaign has touted his accessibility to his constituency, and attention to seniors and youth as the major accomplishments of his freshman term.

Rufus Hawkins

Born and raised in Roosevelt Park, Rufus Hawkins boasts a unique and personal insight to the systemic challenges faced by residents of District 6. Hawkins will seek to bring his experience as an active community organizer with the NAACP and the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee to bear on those issues.


While the position of District 2 City Commissioner was scheduled to be decided during this general election, Commissioner Tony Ortiz ran unopposed and thus has already automatically won reelection.

Tony Ortiz

Tony Ortiz has held the position of District 2 City Commissioner in his mustachioed, and mostly unopposed grip, since 2008. He is often the most outspoken member of the City Council – especially in matters related to governmental overreach and local business development – and was extremely critical of the recently passed downtown bar ordinances.


Your vote is the most effective utility you have for influencing change. We encourage you to make your voice heard by participating in this election, and all future elections.

For more information on how to cast your vote, including how to find your polling place, visit ocfelections.com or call 407-836-2070.

Mike Donohue

Strategic Partnership Director of Bungalower Media

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