Few folks can claim such a hands-on dedication to their community. One of Mount Dora’s longest-serving residents is taking a step back. Back, but certainly not out.
Mount Dora City Council Member Cathy Hoechst recently announced she wouldn’t seek re-election this fall. Instead, she feels the time is right to focus on new professional and personal opportunities, as well as to allow someone new to serve the City.
Hoechst and her husband Jack have lived in Mount Dora for over 30 years. After a long career in hospital administration, she served as president of Mount Dora Area Chamber of Commerce for ten years. In 2013, she was elected mayor and served a two-year term, and she was elected to the city council in 2016.
“My husband and I want to travel while we have our health,” said Hoechst. “I want to have more time available to volunteer at Lake Cares Food Pantry, and I believe the council has done a good job this past year identifying strategies to move the city forward.”
Hoechst identified the top challenges of Mount Dora as remaining focused on improving downtown parking, developing a good financial strategy to fund the city’s future needs, and planning for the impact of growth. She feels other high priorities are maintaining Mount Dora’s high standards and the small-town-feel of downtown while supporting the needs of the entire city.
The former nurse seems to reserve most of her community passion for her long affiliation with Lake Cares Food Pantry, which she’s been part of since it opened nine years ago. “I believe in the mission and know it has had a positive impact on the community in many ways,” said Hoechst. “I want to have time to help Irene plan our future space needs,” she said of helping the Executive Director Irene O’Malley expand the non-profit to meet the growing needs of Lake County.
Although public office is often thankless, Hoechst believes her time at City Hall taught her patience and that doing the right thing always pays off. It also taught her to communicate clearly, listen, and not react until all information is presented. According to Hoechst, she also learned the hard, yet simple, truth that she can’t please everyone.
Hoechst and her husband will still be seen downtown where they regularly enjoy the abundance of restaurants, entertainment, special events and walking along the waterfront.
“I truly believe that Mount Dora is Someplace Special,” said Hoechst, referring to the city’s slogan.
At the time of publication, two residents have stepped up to run for the seat she'll be leaving on the city council. Resident Donnie Stroud, a community volunteer and appointee on the City’s Planning and Zoning Board, and Crissy Stiles, owner of downtown's Barrel of Books & Games store, an appointee on downtown's Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and an active volunteer are both seeking the At-large City Council seat. Two other seats are also up for re-election in November.