Wildwood’s longtime mayor and a newcomer to the city commission scored easy victories in Tuesday night’s general election.
Mayor Ed Wolf was overwhelmingly elected to serve another term by defeating challenger Jay Turner. The 32-year mayor, who has served on the Wildwood Commission since 1975, received 2,355 votes (62.3 percent) to Turner’s 1,425 votes (37.7 percent).
“I feel really good and I feel very fortunate to represent the people of Wildwood,” Wolf said. “I am honored to serve another term.”
Villages Developer-backed candidate Marcos Flores defeated longtime local pastor Derrel Strickland in the non-partisan race to serve on the Wildwood Commission. Flores received 2,303 votes (58.93 percent) to Strickland’s 1,605 (41.07 percent).
Flores, who spent more than five times as much money on his campaign than his opponent, replaces Don Clark, a former Wildwood police chief who decided not to run for another term.
Wolf, 72, said he’s looking forward to working hard to continue the growth and successes Wildwood has seen in recent years.
“There’s really a lot of exciting things going on in the city,” he said. “We’ve worked really hard to get Wildwood to where it is today and there’s some really positive things coming in the next two or three months.”
When Wolf was sworn in in January 2015, he said that was probably going to be his final term as mayor. But he said there are so many important things going on right now that it just didn’t feel like the right time to leave the office.
“Wildwood has a $45 million budget now and things are going well,” he said. “We’re the fastest growing city in Central Florida and there’s so much opportunity right now in the city for so many positive things to happen.”
During Wolf’s current term, The Villages has moved forward with plans to build up to 26,590 homes within the city limits in the Villages of Fenney and Southern Oaks. Other development has taken place along U.S. 301 and in the Oxford area at the north end. Trailwinds Village has added retail stores – a new 48,982-square-foot grocery store appears to be on the horizon – along County Road 466A across from Pinellas Plaza. And the city is building a new police station and has added water and sewage capacity.
All of those things, as well as future growth and projects still to come, make Wolf thankful and honored to serve the citizens of Wildwood. And he said he’s very appreciative of the votes he received and the support of so many residents.
“I didn’t go out and collect a bunch of money and wave signs in people’s faces,” the former Wildwood Middle School coach and educator said. “I decided to run on my reputation and see what happened. So I’m very thankful for the support and confidence in me to serve as mayor of Wildwood.”
Wolf also gave credit to the city’s staff for working hard to make Wildwood a city all of its residents can be proud to call home.
“We’re really only as good as they are,” he said. “And they do a fantastic job.”
Meanwhile, Flores, a T&D Concrete supervisor and 2009 graduate of The Villages High School, handily defeated Strickland after collecting $28,595 in contributions and spending $27,648.65, with the overwhelming majority of his money coming from Villages Developer-owned companies and his employer, reports on file with the Sumter County Supervisor of Elections Office shows.
Strickland, who has served as pastor at Oxford Assembly of God since 1985, raised just $7,090 and spent $5,381.77, records show.