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Orlando Sentinel

Lamour Hopes Exposure 'Will Add Up' To A Victory

By Beth Kassab | Sentinel Staff Writer

February 28, 2004
Copyright ©2004
Orlando Sentinel. All rights reserved.


*Age: 72

*Occupation: Real-estate broker

*Education: Economics degree from the University of Texas; law degree from Inter American University of Puerto Rico

*Political experience: Former aide to Hernan Padilla, the former mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico; ran unsuccessfully for School Board in 1992, County Commission in 1994, county chairman in 1998 and Orlando mayor in 2003

*Family: Married, four children

*Key issues: Stopping downtown skyscraper development, senior citizens issues, crime prevention, creating community health centers

*Quote: "I can bring a good administration, better quality of life, good care for senior citizens and schoolkids."

When the candidates for Orlando mayor ventured onto the campus of Colonial High School earlier this week, it was underdog Alex Lamour who unexpectedly won the "cool" contest.

Lamour, 72, got the most rousing round of hoots and hollers when he boasted of his native San Juan, Puerto Rico, and again when he announced his idea to build a drag-racing track to take the dangerous and illegal street sport off the street.

Unfortunately for Lamour, most of the 300 middle- and high-school kids in the audience are too young to vote, and the candidate who captured less than 1 percent of the vote in the 2003 mayoral contest is showing no signs of gaining any more ground this year.

But Lamour, who ran unsuccessfully for various offices in Orange County four times during the past 12 years, thinks he is slowly gaining name recognition among voters.

"The very little exposure" from each race, he said, "will add up."

His mission, he says, is to see more Hispanics hold local public office and to solve community problems such as transportation and growth.

He disagrees with incumbent Buddy Dyer on most of his agenda. Specifically, Lamour contends that a centralized downtown will hurt the city.

While Dyer has spent much of his first term attempting to secure development deals that will fill out Orlando's sparse skyline, Lamour says "vertical" growth is bad.

"My vision of The City Beautiful is one where we don't need to grow on the vertical," he said. "The city of New York needs to grow on the vertical because they are on an island."

Instead, he would like to see decentralized growth throughout all of Orlando's 104 square miles, he said.

He touts his experience as the former aide to former San Juan Mayor Hernan Padilla in the 1970s as evidence that he is ready to take on Orlando.

"San Juan is a city of 1 million people," he said. "I have dealt with things Orlando hasn't seen yet."

Lamour left Puerto Rico in the late 1980s after there was a split in his former political party. He settled in Orlando after he and his wife stopped here and decided to make it home.

His platform includes creating more affordable health clinics funded through federal grants, a transportation plan exclusive of light rail and the unusual idea of ending teenage drag racing with a supervised track built somewhere in Orlando.

"You can let out your steam," Lamour told the students at Colonial High when he answered questions alongside his opponents there earlier this week as part of a program to encourage youth involvement in politics.

He's hoping the heavy round of applause is evidence that his new agenda can help him improve on his last-place finish a year ago. The other candidates in the March 9 election are Dyer, retired Orlando police Capt. Sam Ings, former city employee Sharon Leichering and businessman Ken Mulvaney.

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