Democrats file to challenge incumbent John Quiñones
By Ken Jackson
A pair of Democrats have joined this year’s election race for the district 2 Board of County Commissioners seat, meaning both major parties will have a primary this summer for the seat should none of the current candidates withdraw.
Democrats Viviana Janer and Romuald Jose Leydon have entered the race, joining incumbent John Quiñones and fellow Republican and teacher David Garcia.
Janer, 42, is a senior manager of internal audit for a local hospitality firm and a political newcomer, but only on the candidate side. She worked on President Barack Obama’s local re-election campaign and introduced him at an appearance at the Kissimmee Civic Center.
Janer, a Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico native, who came to Osceola County by way of New York City, has lived in the county for 11 years.
She said her desire to run comes from being a true reflection and representative of
“Our community deserves better representation and officials that look out for its residents,” she said. “I know only one woman, Mary Jane Arrington, has been elected to the county board, and I’m excited that I would be the first Hispanic woman elected. With the demographics in our district, I want the commission to reflect that.”
Janer has both served and worked with several local and regional Democratic Party committees.
“I have many issues I am passionate about, but I want to wait until after the qualifying period ends to speak on them,” she said.
Leydon, 48, ran against and lost to incumbent Patsy Hefner in the 2012 race for tax collector, and said he’ll be leaning heavily on his experience from that race later this year.
“I got that experience of getting out into the community and talking to people,” said Leydon, who was born in New York City and moved to Puerto Rico before coming to Osceola County in 2003.
His professional background is in community service, as he works with nonprofit groups to procure grants in order to set up outreach programs. He also is a supporter of the Pan de Vida food pantry at the Renewal Church in Buenaventura Lakes.
“I’ve been in this district for six years and have seen how underdeveloped it is, how programs form the homeless and the elderly have been underfunded,” he said. “When the needs of the community are well served, then we can focus on roads and other infrastructure and such. But before that we must provide the services people need in our community.”
In October 2013, Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) recognized both candidates during Hispanic Heritage Month for their work in the community in a speech that appeared in the Congressional Record.
Candidates can still qualify through June 20 for this and other county races, according to the Supervisor of Elections office.