July 30, 2021

Orlando's mayor: Buddy Dyer

Amy Keller | 4/27/2020

In the meantime, Dyer’s had to fend off power plays by political adversaries.

In May 2019, state Sen. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican, filed legislation to try to oust Dyer and Demings from the board of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, which manages the rapidly expanding Orlando International Airport. After the media got wind of it, Baxley withdrew the legislation. Through public records requests, the Orlando Sentinel traced the amendment back to Halsey Beshears, a Winter Park Republican who served in the Florida House of Representatives until 2019, when Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed him secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

During an interview, Dyer declined to comment on the attempted maneuver.

While Dyer’s name pops up periodically as a potential candidate for governor and other statewide office, some believe his 2005 indictment could be a stumbling block. Others say the only thing standing between Dyer and gubernatorial bid is bad timing. Their political calculus assumes DeSantis will be a shoo-in for re-election in 2022, not leaving a Democrat any realistic chance of winning until 2026, at which point Dyer will be 68 years old.

A couple of years ago, Dyer said the only other job he’d ever be interested in would be serving as president of the University of Central Florida — but he a took a pass when the job came open earlier this year.

For now, he says, “I’m still in a city that’s a teenager — we’re growing, and the future’s ahead of us. If you’re the mayor of Boston or Chicago or Philadelphia, you’re kind of set in your ways. You can kind of steer a little bit. But we can go anywhere … so it’s really fun to be the mayor at this point in the city’s life.”

Buddy Dyer, 61

  • Hometown: Kissimmee
  • Education/Experience: Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Brown University; law degree from the University of Florida. He worked for four years as an environmental engineer and served 10 years in the Florida Senate (1992-2002), including three years as Senate Democratic Leader before running for mayor.
  • Family: Dyer divorced in 2017. He has two grown sons, Trey and Drew, and a labradoodle named Sammie, a frequent presence at City Hall.
  • Spare Time: When he’s not working, Dyer likes to hike, hunt, fish, golf, read and watch sports. His wallet and several pairs of boots he wears are made from alligators he killed.
  • Feedback: “I get more positive reinforcement about, guess what? My voice on the tram at the airport,” Dyer says. He also got e-mails from people around the world after he rescued a Jack Russell terrier from the jaws of a pit bull while he was jogging around his neighborhood in 2008. “People love their dogs.”
  • Future Ambitions: Asked about running for higher office, Dyer replies that he “never says never” but for now is focused on leading Orlando.


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