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The best and worst of Orlando City Councilwoman Daisy Lynum

As Lynum prepares to retire, we look at the highlights and lowlights of her 16-year tenure

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“I love policy, I love good governance. I have a sometimes short patience with foolishness,” District 5 Commissioner Daisy Lynum said at the Feb. 10 meeting of the Orlando City Council. It was a somewhat prescient distillation of Lynum’s 16-year career on the dais, and it came (as is often the case) wrapped around a blip of media controversy. Only days before, Lynum was running for re-election in the upcoming April 8 municipal stakes; also, her son, attorney Juan Lynum, had filed paperwork to run for his own mother’s seat. Were they fighting? Was it a setup? The younger Lynum did logic no favors in suggesting to the Orlando Sentinel that the matter was still up in the air on Feb. 7.

“It was a long night last night,” Juan Lynum said. “I’m sure we’ll talk more, and we’ll see what happens in the next 72 hours.”

What ultimately happened was Daisy Lynum dropped out of the race, but not before referring to her former challengers in the often hotly contested Parramore district – Cynthia Harris and Regina Hill – as “thugs.” Such is the nature of a commissioner who has courted controversy (while simultaneously rejecting the term) since 1998. Though she’s been known to ramble at length about everything from wayward chickens in Parramore to the cocktails she’d imbibed at Dubsdread golf course’s legendary 19th hole, she’s also something of a respected fixture on the Orlando City Council – somebody who has advocated for opportunity and equality even under the pressure of looming rubber stamps from two gentrifying mayors, Glenda Hood and Buddy Dyer. She doesn’t suffer fools lightly, even if at times it makes her look foolish. She plays the race card, for both good and bad. She is, as one former commissioner told us on background, “the one person on that council who people will always remember.” And, as she walks away from her office in June, she will be missed. But how much? Let’s pick the petals and find out.

She loves you

On June 1, 1998, on her very first day as commissioner, Lynum was confronted with religious zealots objecting to the city’s flying of rainbow flags for the gay community on downtown light posts in celebration of both Gay Days at Disney and the city’s then-nascent Pride parade. She faced down members of the black community – including pastors anxious to throw around terms like “abomination” and “debauchery” when referencing the city’s growing gay population – and, without blinking, fought in favor of equality. This was at about the same time that Pat Robertson was banging on about hurricanes destroying Orlando as retribution for sodomy. Now the city posts its rainbow flags annually, and the downtown Come Out With Pride parade attracts more than 100,000 participants.

She loves you not

It didn’t take long for Lynum to earn a reputation for badmouthing just about anyone who stood in the way of her plans and ideas, or really just in her way at all. To some, it was part of her charm – who doesn’t love a feisty small-town politician? – but, in general, the tossing around of terms like “ants, fleas, pathetic people, fools and a posse of fools,” as we reported in 2002, did little to gain the commissioner more than a few laughs and the ire of some outspoken constituents. Invoking the Taliban, calling former commissioner Vicki Vargo “retarded” and her other fellow commissioners “cowards,” may have made for good viewing, but wasn’t necessarily on the order of good governance.

She loves you

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