Lee Constantine was defending the environment as a Republican long before his party thought it politically beneficial to finally take up the cause.
His record has been nearly impeccable through the years as an Altamonte city commissioner, a Florida legislator and, most recently, as a Seminole County commissioner.
So we were not surprised when Constantine led the charge to halt the hated River Cross project that threatened the eastern rural zone that Seminole voters decided to protect more than 15 years ago.
The project would have been a dagger in the county’s rural heart, and Constantine deserves the largest share of credit for making sure it didn’t happen.
For that leadership, and for his steadfast devotion to protecting the environment and managing growth, Seminole voters should give Constantine another four years in office.
Constantine is facing a challenge from Democrat Kim Buchheit, a land surveyor who is running on a platform that seems to largely track Constantine’s core beliefs. She’s a sharp business owner who has built a solid resume of environmental activism.
In an interview with the Sentinel Editorial Board, she lamented the poor development decisions Seminole has made but struggled to articulate exactly what those were. Constantine answered with several recent examples where he opposed projects he thought represented irresponsible growth.
She and Constantine also departed on the value of SunRail. While Buchheit did some of the survey work for SunRail, she now questions the commuter rail line’s value. We understand it hasn’t lived up to its potential, most recently because of the pandemic, but without SunRail portions of Central Florida are back to commuting in cars or relying on an inadequate bus system.
Constantine is a vocal advocate for the rail line, which he helped shepherd through the state Legislature. He understands public transportation isn’t a money maker, just like roads aren’t. It’s basic infrastructure that requires government support.
In another commission seat, Buchheit might be an opportunity for Seminole voters to trade up for a better steward of the land and a better manager of growth.
Not in District 3, where Constantine has demonstrated those qualities as he has in a variety of elected positions. Even today he serves as a board member for 1000 Friends of Florida, a respected organization that advocates for responsible growth management.
Buchheit’s the right candidate in the wrong race. Seminole County voters would be crazy to get rid of Constantine, their strongest voice for the environment. He should be reelected to the Seminole County Commission.
Election endorsements are the opinion of the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board, which consists of Opinion Editor Mike Lafferty, Jennifer A. Marcial Ocasio, Jay Reddick, David Whitley and Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson. Sentinel Columnist Scott Maxwell participates in interviews and deliberations. To watch the candidate interviews, go to OrlandoSentinel.com/interviews.
©2020 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)
Visit The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) at www.OrlandoSentinel.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.