Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, saying he wants to continue working to address crises in affordable housing and opioid addiction, has filed for re-election, his campaign announced Friday.
Dyer, 60, Orlando’s longest-serving mayor, was first sworn in 2003 after then-Mayor Glenda Hood was appointed Florida’s secretary of state. He won re-election in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2015.
He said Friday he’s proud of what his administration has accomplished in areas such as job growth and he looks forward to more progress.
“I want to continue the momentum we have built in the last 16 years,” Dyer said in an interview Friday. “We don’t have the problems other big cities have. Crime is low, job growth is high.”
“I am just as excited as I was when I first started.”
However, the mayor won’t have a free pass to a fifth term in the Nov. 5 election. Three candidates have filed to run against him thus far: Aretha Simons, Shantele Bennett and Jentri Casaberry.
More names could enter the fray as qualifying doesn’t take place until Sept. 9-13. By filing now, candidates can begin accepting contributions and petitions.
Aubrey Jewett, a UCF political science professor, said Dyer’s opponents face steep odds to topple him.
“I think it would be extremely difficult, perhaps almost impossible, to beat him right now under current circumstances,” Jewett said. “Even if he is the favorite, it’s good that he has to get out there and run and defend his record and lay out his agenda.”
In his most recent term, Dyer helped lead the city after the Pulse nightclub shooting, which at the time was the nation’s deadliest mass shooting.
Dyer, who became Orlando’s longest-serving mayor in 2016, said he decides on his future in four-year increments, and “right now I’d like to serve another four years.”
During his tenure, the city brought the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the Amway Center, Orlando City Soccer Club and SunRail to Orlando.
Soon other major projects will join that list, including the Performing Arts Center’s Steinmetz Hall expansion, the Orlando Magic’s Entertainment Complex and UCF and Valencia College’s downtown campus at the Creative Village.
The campus, expected to bring more than 8,000 students downtown, is on schedule to open in August.
In 2005, he was suspended by Gov. Jeb Bush for about a month after an indictment for an absentee-ballot violation. The case was dropped.
Of his opponents, Simons filed to run in 2017 and is a Navy veteran who served both in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. She’s a consultant for nonprofits and has argued in social media posts that Orlando needs a new voice and that she’d “bring everyone to the table.”
Neither Casaberry nor Bennett have started fundraising for the seat.
Bennett declared her candidacy during public comment at a City Council meeting months ago after accusing city leaders, without evidence, of spying on her. Court records show she was charged with attempted first-degree murder in a 2016 shooting but was found not competent to proceed to trial.
She didn’t return a call seeking comment.
Staffer Marco Santana contributed to this report.
Correction: A previous version misstated when Dyer was most recently elected.He was re-elected in 2015.