ABOVE: From left is Mayor Crissy Stile and Council Members Nate Walker and John Cataldo.
Known for its festivals, quaint downtown and mossy oaks, little Mount Dora woke up in November to some big changes. For years, the city’s residents have predominantly been represented by active retirees, willing to give their time and experience to serve their city. The result was a cohesive council, but one that didn’t reflect the increasing diversity of Mount Dora or cultivate new ideas.
Fast forward to this year’s non-partisan election, and the result was extraordinary, not only for the large margins of victory, but also the dramatic change to the City Council's demographics. Three much younger representatives earned seats on the council and the trio also work full time.
Meet the new faces of Mount Dora City Council:
CRISSY STILE, MAYOR Crissy Stile, 45, moved to Central Florida in 1994 to attend Stetson University, after growing up in the small town of Fishkill, New York. She graduated from Stetson in 1998 with a B.A. in Accounting and continued to earn her MBA in 1999. After working for several large companies in accounting, budgeting and treasury, Stile knew she wanted to follow in her parents' footsteps and establish her own business. Today, she’s the owner/operator of Barrel of Books and Games, which has been open for over a decade in downtown Mount Dora. Stile loves the outdoors and tends to a community garden to grow food for the clients of Lake Cares Food Pantry, where she volunteers. She's also an avid cyclist, a rising pickleball player, a partner in programs with the W.T. Bland Library, a book club organizer, and a strong proponent of green initiatives. In the 15 years Stile has lived in Mount Dora, she has become involved in almost every aspect of the City. The new mayor, who won with almost 59 percent of the vote, lives in the Pinecrest neighborhood with her partner of 15 years, Elena, a registered nurse, and their three rescue dogs, Gracie, Toby and Brin. Stile stated the most important thing in her life is her family. She is the middle child of five and was raised by, she claims, the best parents in the world.
“The only promise I make is to always consider the thoughts and concerns of all residents and work as hard as possible to be a responsible voice to our taxpayers,” said Stile, who previously served on Mount Dora City Council from 2018 to 2020.
JOHN CATALDO, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT 1 John Cataldo, 57, is passionate about helping people. Thoughtful growth, progress and historic preservation will be among the priorities of his term on Mount Dora City Council. Together with his partner Arthur Natale, John has been a resident and business owner in Downtown Mount Dora for sixteen years, operating the award-winning Adora Inn. The two turned their 105-year-old building into a boutique, hotel-style bed and breakfast. Since then, they have been hosting travelers coming to Mount Dora from all over the world. John was born and raised in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan, the youngest of seven children. Having a mother who was a terrific cook, he always loved food and chose to attend the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York, and graduated in 1985. John’s educational experience opened the door for a successful 35-year career in the hospitality and tourism industry.
Having served on the Economic Advisory Committee and Planning & Zoning Commission, John, who won with nearly 64% of the vote, hopes his experience and dedication will help address the concerns of District 1 and guide Mount Dora’s growth in a positive direction.
NATE WALKER, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT 5 A lifelong resident of Mount Dora, Nate Walker, 47, is the first councilmember to represent the newly created District 5. He is a graduate of Mount Dora High School and has worked in the telecommunications industry for 25 years. Walker and his wife Sheree have been married for 20 years and have six children and three grandchildren: Kyson, Kyla and Kinsley. Walker has a long history of advocating for the Northeast Community and is passionate about working with and serving the community in various capacities. He has served on both the Northeast CRA Advisory and Charter Review Committees, and is Chairman of the Steward Board at Bethel I.F.M. Church. “I’m honored to be afforded the opportunity to continue to serve the city that I love, and I’m excited about the future of Mount Dora. I look forward to listening to the residents, working with fellow council members and staff to make Mount Dora someplace special,” said Walker.
MARC CRAIL, COUNCIL MEMBER, DISTRICT 4 Although Marc Crail isn't one of the three new faces on council representing the demographic shift, it’s important to note that he ran unopposed in the election and will serve again as Mount Dora City Council representative for District 4, which includes Lakes of Mount Dora. Crail brings along his years of experience on the council and as a former teacher and School Superintendent to benefit the city.