Whether by happenstance or disinterest by younger residents, the roles of Mayor and City Council members are typically filled by active retirees in Mount Dora. This year’s local campaign season is quite different. Both of Mount Dora’s non-partisan races have attracted community-minded local business owners.
In the race for City Council District 1, which encompasses much of the historic district, John Cataldo, co-owner of Adora Inn, has tossed his hat in the ring. Cataldo is a 16-year Mount Dora resident who previously served on Mount Dora’s Economic Advisory Committee and its Planning and Zoning Commission. Prior to moving to Mount Dora, Cataldo's career was in hospitality management. According to his campaign information, Cataldo’s priorities will be Mount Dora’s people, progress and historic preservation.
In Mount Dora’s mayoral race, another small business owner has stepped up to serve. Downtown bookstore owner Crissy Stile launched her campaign focusing on integrity, public safety and preservation of the historic district, according to her website. Stile is also a former Mount Dora City Council Member and holds a masters degree in business administration.
Stile is running against incumbent two-term Mount Dora Mayor Cathy Hoechst, who also served as a past president of the local Chamber of Commerce and previously had a lengthy career in nursing and healthcare administration. Before retiring in 2019, Hoechst, a 35-year Mount Dora resident, was in management at Lake Receptions.
Cataldo is running against Carroll Jaskulski, a 14-year resident who serves on the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission. He is currently an associate real estate broker with Colony Realty Group, which has the same principal as Cottages on 11th, a new Mount Dora development he voted to approve in 2019 and later became its project manager.
The four candidates share the same stance on one key issue. None of them oppose a parking garage to improve downtown's parking issue. Additionally, they all support some form of growth to increase the city's revenue. The candidates differ greatly on the appropriate location, size and scope of new development and their own relationships to developers.
In addition to local business ownership, Stile, 45, and Cataldo, 57, also represent a younger demographic than what is typically attracted to run for City Hall office in Mount Dora. Future elections will determine if this is a trend of younger residents becoming civically involved or just an anomaly due to current issues.
Mount Dora’s non-partisan election is Nov. 2 and vote-by-mail begins September 17.